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Getting employees excited about a company’s vision

FINANCIAL STANDARD
By By LILLIAN KIARIE | November 11th 2013

By LILLIAN KIARIE

NAIROBI, KENYA: “I am too nice! They say business is not for nice guys, but I will prove them wrong,” says Amani Maranga, 32, CEO of Three Sixty Degrees Holdings Limited (TSDH).

And he is well on his way to showing up his naysayers.

The father of two began reaping profits from his hard work after he decided to leave the comfort of employment, focus on his strong points as a communicator and make people believe in his ability to deliver.

“Never in my dreams did I envision tables turning for me to begin a thriving internal communications agency with high-flying clients such as GSK, Nairobi Java House, Nestle, Nairobi Securities Exchange and General Motors,” he said.

Maranga started small.

He completed his O-levels at Moi Forces Academy and got his very first job just after high school at a surveying company as a data-entry clerk. He earned a  monthly salary of Sh3,000 and worked there for more than a year.

He then enrolled at Daystar University to study public relations.

“I got a job with an NGO called Emerging Young Leaders in my second year of university. I was an administrative assistant and also did PR for them. I earned Sh5,000. A year later, I was promoted and my salary went up to Sh7,500,” he recalls.

His first taste of entrepreneurship came in mid-2003, when he went into business with a friend reselling Simu ya Jamii community phones.

In 2004, he got a job at the Village Market shopping mall as an assistant events, recreation and entertainment manager, a job he really enjoyed.

A year later, he moved to an events company run by communications agency Scanad.

“Between 2004 and 2006, I got really entrenched in the industry. I was employed but had like 50 side hustles. I was handling events for several companies and entertainment outlets,” Maranga says.

By the end of 2006, he was being pulled in so many directions that he felt too tired to continue, so he quit employment.

“In 2007, I registered Three Sixty Degrees. Our first job was with General Motors. William Lay who was Chairman and CEO at the time, was like an angel to us. He gave us a chance, and liked the results of our work so much that he remained a client for three years,” Maranga says.

The two had met on the committee of Junior Achievement Kenya, where Lay was chairman and Maranga a member.

Maranga’s firm helped a team that the GM management felt had not gelled as well as expected, to pull together to meet targets.

“In June 2008, I took up a job with Mavuno Church. My goal was two pronged: to give back and use my skills for good; and to change my rather wild brand. My business continued to run on the side. I worked with the church until June 2009.”

That month, he got “a very good job” with Linksoft Group as the group communications manager for the company’s three businesses that were in six countries.

“It was a fantastic salary with good perks and great exposure. It showed me where I would have been if I’d remained in the corporate world,” Maranga says.

But after seven months, he quit.

“I looked at what Three Sixty Degrees was making and the salary I was earning in a year, and the difference was small. I figured that if I focused on my business full-time, I’d quickly make up the difference.”

And he has not looked back since.

At the time — 2010 — his business was making about Sh4 million a year. Today, the company is valued at around Sh30 million. He has 10 permanent staff and several associates he works with on a temporary basis.

“I believe we are the only communications agency in Kenya that is focused on doing internal communication. We help companies turn their employees and stakeholders into brand ambassadors by aligning them with their vision, strategy, products and values.

“This creates more productive and satisfied staff as they end up working for more than just a pay cheque — they buy into a mission,” Maranga says.

The avid golfer believes entrepreneurship is the fastest way to create sustainable wealth.

“In employment, you get paid as you earn experience, and you are exposed to networking and benefits like medical cover — but on the flipside, you grow comfortable and dependent.”

Although a business is less sheltered and you have to hunt for every coin you earn, Maranga says that one has more freedom to experiment with different things.

His advice? 

“We are in the best time we have ever been in this country when it comes to opportunities. The future is in ICT, law, PR and marketing, content production for media and its distribution, and with the discoveries of oil, gas and other minerals, there is a lot of business for industries that support mining.”

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