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Job scarcity should spur you to be own boss

WORK LIFE
By Margaret Kanini | Jun 4th 2014 | 4 min read
By Margaret Kanini | June 4th 2014
WORK LIFE
Beatrice Wababu set up her own communications consultancy. [Photo: Wilberforce Okwiri/ Standard]

The training people get in college or university should be a basis for adapting easily to different markets and becoming innovative as opposed to sitting on it and waiting for employment. Indeed, fresh young graduates should take to heart the charge given during graduation – when they are conferred with “power to read” – and exploit their potential.

Beatrice Wababu, who has a master’s degree in communication from Daystar University, says her university education was enough to spur her to set up her own communications consulting firm. She did not wait to be employed.

And in the course of her business, she has expanded the knowledge she earned in university and is helping others discover their potential.

Beatrice, 42, does more than what is written in her university transcripts.

“I train and do public relations. I also train trainers and coach companies and individuals in effective customer service,” she says.

She explains that there is a lack of comprehensive courses for trainers of trainers or effective customer service in almost all the universities and local colleges; she identified that niche and used the basics of what she learnt in school as well as some advanced knowledge to become an expert.

“The field of public relations is very wide, so I mostly train companies and individuals in advertising needs, effective customer care skills, effective merchandising skills and corporate image,” she explains.

Penetrating the communications field successfully is always the biggest challenge, she says.

“It is very difficult, especially when one has no previous experience and has no testimonials to prove they can consult for a client,” she says.

But this did not deter Beatrice to go for what she believed and two years down the line, Wabcom Ventures Limited, which is based in Westlands, Nairobi, has moved on smoothly. The firm has six trainers, and an administration and finance officer, which is different from when she had started.

“I started with only two support staff in finance and administration. These, according to me, are the key areas in business,” she says.

Beatrice, who is also a part-time lecturer at Mt Kenya University, says she did not have enough to set up the business but she was determined to be her own boss.

“I had my savings from previous jobs so I used that to find an office and furnish it in 2012.”

Already, Wabcom has a sister company called Wabcom Technologies. Just a few months into the venture, her business started picking up. Beatrice got her very first contract from Tuskys Supermarkets and a client she has maintained to this day.

Effective customer service is something Beatrice holds close to her heart. She says she has travelled widely and encountered friendly people and experienced very good customer service that made her a loyal customer.

She wanted to see this happening at home. So one day, after one of these trips, she decided it was time to put her dream to the test.

“Everyone would be very happy if they were treated right and respected, so it was like a challenge for me to train people on the importance of this and how to go about it,” she said.

She knew exactly what she wanted as well as what was missing from customer service in the country.

“For the trainer of trainers programme, we prefer self-sponsored individuals, not those a company sends for training. We also prefer candidates who already have a first degree because they can grasp easily the issues we talk about; all we do is expose them to the world rather than start everything from scratch.”

Trainer of trainers and effective customer care service are the company’s two flagship programmes, which have constant fees. The trainer of trainers programme, which costs Sh29,000 per individual, runs four hours a day for five weeks.

Other customers besides Tuskys are CIC insurance group, Kenya Commercial and Co-operative banks among others

“Every client is charged differently depending on the number of people an organisation sends to us for training; cost also depends on the type of programme and employees’ level – managers pay different from other employees or individuals.

“Sometimes we use our own infrastructure and resources to train and charge more in such instances compared to those who have their own venues and resources,” she explains.

She also must reciprocate the money value – apart from offering the services, she and her team evaluate their programmes to determine if they are a success or not.

“Learning is a process but we evaluate our services during and after the training. We follow up customers to see if they are effectively using the skills we have imparted and what success they have achieved from that.

“We maintain good relations with our clients and try to find out if the complaints they previously received from their clients have gone down and if there are increased sales (in cases where an organisation deals in products),” she says.

Beatrice’s major achievement so far has been the ability to offer employment to other people and be her own boss.

“There are many graduates out there looking for jobs; to them I say stay open minded and flexible so that you can adapt easily to fields other than the one you trained in and be able to work anywhere.

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