Ever heard of a serial entrepreneur? Well neither had I until I stumbled on Njeri Rionge, one of Kenya’s most successful and revered serial entrepreneurs.
Rionge co-founded multi-million dollar companies in quick succession. A 36 year old mom, she co-founded Wananchi Online, a leading Internet service provider which has gone on to become East Africa’s leading cable, broadband and IP (Internet-based) Phone Company.
She also founded Ignite Consulting, a thriving business consultancy; Business Lounge, Kenya’s leading startup incubator; Ignite Lifestyle, a health care consultancy; and Insite, one of Kenya’s most successful digital marketing outfits.
How did this winning streak start? As a 19-20 year old, Njeri’s first business involved selling yogurt to students of the International School of Kenya and Loretto Convent Musongari High School over their 10am and 4pm school breaks. Throughout this period she was also employed as a hairdresser with a clientele consisting largely of high net worth individuals. Recognizing yet another opportunity, she traveled to London on a regular basis using discounted courier tickets to purchase re-sale luxury merchandise which were not available in Kenya at the time. That was the beginning of a lifetime of successful endeavors.
Wonder why anybody wants to create one company after another? Njeri has been known to say that she creates companies serially because she believes that Africa is the next economic frontier and Africans must build indigenous organizations that will support this growth. She intends to hand over the businesses to business drivers to take them to the next level through a management sale or recruitment of a CEO.
At a BBC interview, Njeri said, “I am passionate about entrepreneurship, about people, about business. I am very interested to see growth in African businesses. A lot of companies in Africa are largely family owned and are also more likely to be trading without creating capacity for scaling into larger organizations. I think a time has come for Africa to pay attention to the opportunity of changing the landscape of how business is done.” She added, “You should expect a few more things from me. If I had to do one thing and do it for the rest of my life, that would be rather boring.”
She also runs the Njeri Rionge brand, which is a motivational speaking brand. Visit her web page at www.njeri-rionge.com
So she’s not done yet! Not one to rest on her past accomplishments and laurels. We do hope to see more from her and more like her arising from Africa.