Muthoni Njakwe is the founder and CEO of Stedcomm, a digital marketing and advertising agency.
She holds a Bachelor of Commerce in accounting from Egerton University and is currently pursuing a postgraduate diploma in marketing.
Njakwe is also a part-time student of animation and graphic design. She shares her career journey with the Sunday Nation.
Tell us about your childhood, family life, and career dream.
I had very humble beginnings. I am the firstborn in a family of four. As the firstborn and the only girl, I was forced to grow up very quickly. I grew up with many challenges that moulded me into the person I am today. I always knew how difficult it would be to break out of poverty. However, my dream of becoming successful was stronger than any obstacle. I always envisioned a world without poverty. I knew the surest way to do that was to get a good education first, then start a company that would uplift small businesses.
I went to local primary and secondary schools. After high school, I was admitted to Egerton University, where I did a Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting) Degree. Getting admission to University was a dream come true for me. Learning is a continuous process, we never stop learning. am constantly learning and researching. Currently, I am pursuing a postgraduate Diploma in Marketing. I am also attending a part-time class on animation and graphic design.
Please share with us your career journey.
Growing up, I wanted to change the world. I knew the way to do that was to start a business. I started as a finance officer for a savings and credit Sacco to get up on my feet. Although I was a great performer, I knew I wanted something different. After working briefly, I resigned and used the few savings I had to start my first small business, a restaurant.
I later founded Stedcomm, a digital marketing and advertising agency that helps SMEs transition to the emerging digital economy. Other than being the CEO, I also oversee all operations of the company.
How has been your career progression over the years?
For the digital marketing agency, I started with cold calling. I spent the first five months making 30 cold calls a day and sending business proposals. I knocked on doors. Cold-calling was excellent training for business. It taught me to think on my feet. We have so far built a good clientele. Serving hundreds of small businesses is an honour of a lifetime.
What has been a critical driver of your growth? And what important lessons have you learnt along the way?
I want to impact people’s lives positively, and that’s what drives me. As such, profit is not the only driver. I have a strong desire to help people and tiny business owners achieve their sales goals. I’ve learnt that when you do things with your heart, it creates vibes that take it to the next level.
I have also learnt that I can’t build a successful business if I am not going to surround myself with people who have skills and experience beyond my own. And so, I am constantly surrounding myself with great people who are more skilled and experienced.
Who are the people who have influenced your career trajectory?
I have had great people in my life who have held my hand and supported me. Most importantly, I have a very supportive family that supports me and pushes me to be the best that I can be.
Critical decisions you might have taken along your career?
I started in the accounting profession. Later on, I shifted to the marketing and advertising profession as it was in line with my future goals.
What would you tell your younger self?
Success is a process, not an event; it takes dedication, hard work, and sacrifice. Stay humble. Never stop learning; stay hungry.
What would you advise the youth in Kenya and Africa today?
Most Kenyans give up very fast. Others don’t start due to fear of failure. The secret to success is to love what you do. Your motivation must be compelling to overcome the obstacles that will come your way. The entrepreneurial journey can be challenging.
Yes, there will be many lows. But to succeed in any endeavor, the desire to succeed should be greater than the fear of failure. The youth should learn to start from where they are with what they have and embrace learning. Every successful person was once a beginner.
What is your biggest fear in life?
Failing to win the battle in my mind. That’s the battle between procrastination and getting down there and working for the life I think I deserve.
What do you do for fun?
I love long evening walks and hiking.
If there is one thing you would have changed about your past what would that be?
Not one thing. Every single shred of “awful, tragic, twisted, beautiful, amazing” from my past is what gave me my present. Your character and courage are not determined by how many times you get knocked down but by how many times you get back up.
I want to ensure my company becomes the best advertising agency in the world. I’m doing everything I can to realise that dream. I also hope to start a digital marketing institution in the coming years.