By BUSINESS BEAT REPORTER
Almost exactly 52 years ago today in Nanyuki, a baby girl was born to parents who were hoteliers.
The couple already had three daughters, so a son would have been nice, but Shamsu and Malek Din welcomed their new baby with joy and love.
And from a sleepy village in Nanyuki came a woman who would go on to build one of Kenya’s best-known PR brands.
Gina Din-Kariuki, founder and chair of the communications agency Gina Din Corporate Communications, recently launched the Gina Din Group whose tag line — Shaping African Conversations — shows the intention to weave the African narrative into the continent’s homegrown brands.
The new group, which is made up of Gina Din Corporate Communications and IMC, a marketing communications company, already looks formidable.
It plans to increase its footprint in Africa by attracting global clients through its affiliation with Weber Shandwick, the award-winning and second-largest PR group in the world,
Gina is executive chair of the group, with Eddie Ndegwa being group CEO.
The launch came just a month after Gina spoke on the sidelines of the African Leadership Forum at the United Nations.
The theme of her speech at the event was re-branding Africa, and the continent was very much on-message at the colourful launch of GDG.
The launch included a mix of Nairobi’s movers and shakers from the corporate, NGO, diplomatic and government worlds.
The two cabinet secretaries who spoke at the launch — Phyllis Kandie (Trade, Tourism and East African Community) and Adan Mohamed (Enterprise Development and Industrialisation) — noted the impact Gina has made on Kenya as a pioneering woman entrepreneur.
Mohamed, who worked with Gina at Barclays Bank Kenya before she left to start out on her own, spoke of her courage to start her own firm and her commitment to raising her two children.
Gina’s daughter Natalya is a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, and her son Naythan is in his final year of high school.
Also present was Energy Cabinet Secretary David Chirchir.
Last year, Gina ventured into oil exploration with US-based energy giants Camac Energy, the only Black-led company quoted on the New York Stock Exchange.
“I am incredibly proud of Camac. They are an inspirational story of what a real African success story is,” says Gina.
Zimbabwean musical legend Oliver Mtukudzi, who had been brought in especially for the evening, entertained the guests.
Kavi Pratt, President Kenyatta’s niece and an accomplished singer, sang the National Anthem and the song she sang for the inauguration, “Believer”.
Martha Karua, who ran for presidency in the last elections, and Ida Odinga added to the colour at the event, as did British High Commissioner Christian Turner and Auma Obama, sister to US President Barack Obama.
Clients from different sectors of Kenya’s private sector all assembled to celebrate this iconic Kenyan entrepreneur.
Gina recalled leaving her salaried job at Barclays 16 years ago to create what she thought would be a dream job, but ended up being a dream life.
At the launch of GDG, Gina also announced a new chapter in her life with the unveiling of her TV show, At the Table with Gina, and foundation, the Gina Din Foundation.
Prior to the launch, Gina had used the Africa forum at the UN to set the tone for GDG.
She said: “As we talk about Africa we must realise that Africa is diverse; a melting pot of different cultures, a mosaic of different races and a continent which has blessed the world with the gift of her human and natural resources. I am fortunate to represent that diversity.”
She believes GDG mirrors what Africa stands for — resilience and strong promise.
“The African Renaissance has been driven largely by the resilience of its people who have never lost hope for a better tomorrow,” she told the gathering of African dignitaries.
“I feel strongly that we are we’re limiting ourselves to just Kenya ... to just PR. I want to be part of the re-awakening of this continent.”
Her vision is for GDG to take mediocre brands “and make them magnificent.”
And her plans are ambitious. Her new TV show will connect high-potential Africans to high achievers from the continent. Her foundation will focus on youth, especially young women, and help mentor them to get to the top.
“We don’t have enough women in C-suites in Africa,” she says.
And she most likely will pull it off.