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I sold smuggled underwear in campus for huge profits


Joanne Mwangi-Yelbert, is the founder and CEO of Professional Marketing Service Group.Harriet Akinyi had a chat with her about life in campus.


Which university did you attend?

The University of Nairobi where I pursued a Bachelor of Arts – Political Science, Anthropology and Economics course.

Your toughest unit?

I found anthropology tough, which was odd because I had assumed it was going to be a breeze. Once I engaged, however, I discovered that it is not only fascinating but also quite relevant to day to day life. There was a surprising amount of sociology and psychology that we learnt and that left a lasting impression.

Who was your favourite lecturer?

Prof Okuthe – he was highly intelligent, very knowledgeable, articulate, stylish and absolutely charming. For most of the young impressionable girls like me, the class couldn’t last long enough!

Did you skip classes?

Yes, albeit very few. This happened when I gave birth to my daughter during my second year of college and had to take a break.

Where did you hang out?

We went out to Visions, Boomerang and Carnivore for dancing and to Munyiri’s and Kenchic (Jeevanjee Gardens) for cheap fast-food. For a good expensive meal, by our then standards, we went to Green Corner and Trattoria. Then there was Exotica (or Exo as we called it) for their incomparable masala chips, chicken and kebabs with a crisp lettuce side salad. Just talking about them makes my mouth water. No girl could resist a date for ice cream at SnoCream!

How did you manage your finances in campus?

We were lucky to get Boom (an allowance from the Government) and so all our basic needs were met. I was prudent to get any school materials purchased before splurging on luxuries.


 What was your dating experience in campus like?


Extremely limited. I had already met my future husband while in high school and so focused on my school work, an extra diploma, partying and later, family.


What were your side hustles in campus?

I remember buying lingerie (I didn’t know that jargon then) and make-up from Ugandan smugglers along River Road and trading at 100 per cent margins. The fastest moving item was a green-coloured lip colour that changed to a bright pink upon application and lasted all day. This financed college extras like a music system, electric kettle, blow dryer and posh perfume.


Advice to those in school

Focus on what is important – your education. And get the most out of the institutions you are in. If you can do an extra course, the better. There’s time enough for everything else after you excel. But do have some fun too and make good friends who support and help you achieve your dreams.



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