04 Apr Meet our new Kenya Country Manager: Silvya Kananu
Tell us a little bit about yourself
My name is Silvya Kananu, and I guess you can say I have always been interested in business. When I was really young, maybe eight years old, I remember I would go about the house collecting ten-cent coins that nobody cared about and save them. One time when I had saved enough of them plus the few coins my mother gave me, I went to the kiosk, bought a bunch of sweets and chewing gum. I converted the newspaper cupboard into my own kiosk and set up my wares there, and then sold my candy at exorbitant prices to my only paying customers-mum and dad. Ofcourse they only bought my candy because they were my parents, but I had made my first profit at about the age of eight!
On the educational front, I attended Strathmore University where I pursued a Bachelor of Commerce degree, marketing option, and graduated with first class honors. Not long after graduation, I started working in Scangroup’s Media Initiative as a Media Planner and later on as a Senior Media Planner. I learnt a lot about working under severe pressure from Scangroup, as well as stretching my multi-tasking abilities to the limit! When I felt I was ready to move, I moved to Unilever Ltd. where I worked as an Assistant Brand Manager for the Savoury Category. Unilever was like my 2nd University and I learned so much from there concerning maneuvering my way about the corporate world.
I have also dabbled in entrepreneurship and run a boutique business consultancy focusing on MSMEs before I joined Equity Group Foundation as an Entrepreneurship Program Coordinator. It was in the course of this role that it became pretty clear to me that entrepreneurship is my passion area in life, and to this end, I undertook an MSc. In Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship from Manchester Business School, where I graduated with a distinction. I returned to Kenya in December 2015 and begun my exciting role at Sinapis in February 2016
If you had only 3 words to describe yourself, what would they be? (We know this one is a tough one)
Only 3?! Ok, I would have to go with Loyal, Lively and Focused.
Kenya, if not most of Africa, is in dire need of a revolution in order to change the economic woes it faces. The unemployment rate stands at approximately 40%, with more and more students graduating and less and less getting gainful employment. I believe it is primarily by supporting an entrepreneurial culture that we will be able to attract great minds into the field of entrepreneurship, who will in turn establish thriving businesses that will create jobs and contribute positively to economic development. It is my passion to ensure that a lot more support is given to the field of entrepreneurship, and budding entrepreneurs given the right tools they need in order to successfully grow their businesses.
Outside work, what do you enjoy doing?
Cliché as it sounds, I love travelling! There is something exciting about experiencing new places, people and cultures. I also enjoy experimental cooking on lazy Saturdays. I find it so much fun learning to make new dishes that go beyond the every-day meals. I also really love animals, and enjoy watching wildlife documentaries -the kind with a droning narrator’s voice 🙂 . We have two dogs, Chief and Juju, and I enjoy playing with them and giving them much-needed baths.
What’s the coolest thing you have ever done?
This is the part where I wish I could say “I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro” but sadly, I haven’t. I climbed Mt. Suswa and it was a wrap for me. Views were awesome though! But by day three I was just finished!
View from Mt. Suswa Super-tired Silvya
I think the coolest thing I have done thus far is back-packing in Europe with a friend. I really enjoyed it, especially Rome and Barcelona. We got lost a couple of times, couldn’t understand the languages one bit, ate some nasty food, experienced a Greek “heat-wave” but all these things made it all the more memorable 🙂 #turande
Roman ‘soldiers’ and I 🙂 Silly poses in Paris!
In another life, what would you be?
I would probably be either a marine biologist or a wildlife conservationist. Not because I really love science but because I find animals fascinating, especially sea creatures. How can they swim all day & night and not mind being wet 24-7?!
If you were any character in the Bible, who would it be?
Well…I can see myself being Queen Esther. Not in the sense of living a lavish queen-like life with servants at my disposal, but in the sense that God took an ordinary woman with an ordinary name, raised her societal position and used it to do much good for her people, the Jews. Likewise, I see myself as a woman privileged by God who is to use any position of influence I hold to bring glory to God, especially in the market place. What I really admire about Queen Esther is that she was a woman who accomplished so much while still remaining humble at heart. This is something I aspire to; to live a life that is highly impactful, while still being humble and down-to-earth.
What mantra do you live by?
Very simple. What-Would-Jesus-Do a.k.a. WWJD. As a Christian, the one I look up to for guidance and who I emulate is Jesus Christ. And every day I strive to be a little more like Him. If I can’t picture Jesus doing or saying it, I won’t do or say it. This also helps me to show compassion and love when I just feel like being mean and selfish. It’s a challenging mantra to live by, but like The Bible says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.