Esther Kagiri, 28, says running her own company is her greatest achievement. She talks to Nelly Obadha
What did you study at the university?
I studied Communications and majored in Public Relations at Daystar University. After graduation in 2003, I worked with the Daystar University Alumni Association (DUAA) as a business communications leader for about a year then joined The National Muslim Council of Kenya as a communications officer in 2004.
The next year I got an opportunity to work with one of the leading PR firms in Kenya, Gina Din Corporate Communications, where I started as an intern and rose to the level of client services director.
What made you think of starting a company?
- 1 Quick expansion cost me almost everything
- 2 Why are there so many car wash centres in Nairobi?
- 3 Why You Need a Business Exit Plan
- 4 Mole catcher who photographed Barack Obama
I got the opportunity to work with women bosses and I took time to talk to them and to understand what they did different to get where they are. I believe God brings people our way for a purpose. When you work with someone like Gina Din Kariuki of Gina Din Corporate Communications who believes in you and expects nothing less than excellence, it means you’ll never settle for ‘fine’.
What motivated you to start a media monitoring company?
Having been in the communication industry for almost eight years, I observed and interacted with communicators and marketers who always mentioned the need for service-oriented media. I embarked on research on how to address the need for accuracy, reliability, timeliness, customer service and new forms of media such as social media, while maintaining sensitivity to budgets.
How did you manage to raise capital?
I sold the idea to a few people most of who dismissed it. Because I believed in the venture and I was persistent, I finally found someone willing to take a risk with me. Together with some savings and the funding,my company was born.
Who is your mentor?
Besides all the great people I have interacted with, my mum is my main mentor. She has the greatest faith I have ever known. When I shared my ambition with her, all she said was: "You will never know unless you try and who cares if God has your back?" She is a walking faith and I am blessed to have her.
Then there is my business partner who only asked one question: Will it work? Then he jumped on board.
What is your company’s name and what does it do?
Globetrack International (GTI) is a media monitoring company that deals with TV, radio, print and social media monitoring. We began operating last year.
GTI keeps track of what is being said about a brand, organisation or an individual. It includes advertisement tracking where we give the client feedback on the quality, space or time allocated to an advert they paid for on a particular media. Monitoring could also be editorial where we provide summaries and clips of mentions as well as analyses to enable our clients engage their customers or supporters constructively.
What challenges did you face when starting?
The cost of investment is not easy, especially when it comes to technology. I knew for the idea to work, we had to invest in the best technology to ensure efficiency and accuracy. Media monitoring isn’t something you can chance as our clients depend on us to be their ears and eyes in all the media.
We were the first company in East and Central Africa to employ automated tracking as well as provide social media monitoring and analysis that can inform strategies.
What are your achievements so far?
Being able to run my own company at 28 is the greatest achievement. Working with major brands like Kenya Airways, Safaricom, Tetra Pak while at Gina Din was also a plus.
Managing your own company must be tasking, how do you relax after work?
Relaxing for me means doing what I don’t get to do in the office. I always set aside time to read a good book or just take a walk with my music on. I love to host my friends with whom I am guaranteed a good laugh or chat. Then there are fun-filled Sunday outings with my sisters and nephew.
How many people have you employed so far?
GTI is a 24-hour business and we currently have 22 employees in our day and night shifts. I have an amazing team and consider myself blessed. We operate on a teamwork policy where problems must be accompanied by solutions. Since we hire experts, they always come up with solutions. We are all always accessible to each other.
What does it take to start a company or achieve whatever dream?
First and most important, you must have faith in God. There are days you will feel like He lost your address, but His favour is incomparable. Also key is: Positive attitude, relentless spirit and association with like-minded and supportive people.
You also need the support of family and good friends who also act as your check.
"We keep asking ourselves who we are to be brilliant, successful, talented and fabulous? Actually who are we not to be?"
— Marianne Williamson.