In response to the question about what Wacu Mureithi does?
“Yes,” she says with a chuckle, “everything. I don’t have very many employees so my role is all over the place. I do what needs to be done. If there is a job title that fits that I would be happy to update mine. The closest one I think of is KYM (Kada Ya Moko) in Kikuyu.”
This rings true with many entrepreneurs, who wear multiple hats as their businesses grow.
Wacu is the founder and Managing Director of Mosara (K) Ltd., a business she began in 2015. Mosara manufactures personal care products made with natural ingredients sourced from across the African continent. And like most great business idea, hers germinated from a personal need.
“Mosara was founded at a time when as a consumer I felt that the Market wasn’t providing for my personal care needs. Having had acne and eczema for as long as I could remember, I was obsessed with finding products that would clear my scars and help prevent new outbreaks. I had been buying skin and hair products from everywhere. I was looking for that magic product that would give me great hair and flawless skin. I tried everything at least once. In my search, I stumbled across a neem soap that worked great and retailed at Ksh 60. I did not know it then, but this planted the seed for my future business. All natural products did it for me, and I was sure that there were many other people in my position.
“After leaving employment in 2015, I decided I would start whipping up my own products. With no income, I figured that it no longer made sense to buy things and throw them away. It took a few tries – finding the raw materials was the biggest challenge I encountered in my early days. But the trial and error, and then success, is what created Mosara Body Cream. This made all my efforts worth the while. The product was so good my whole family was using it. One of my sisters suggested that I turn it into a business and the cogs started to turn from that moment.”
Wacu had participated in the inaugural GMC competition in 2015, coming in at third place in the finals. As she was taking part in the competition, Wacu made a surprising discovery. She had the capacity to run a business. She had never pictured herself as an entrepreneur and the GMC opened her eyes to that.
“I took part in the competition because it seemed interesting. It was a fun experience! At the time, I had just completed my course work for an MBA in Strategic Management from the University of Nairobi. The GMC had helped me put into practice the theories I had been learning. I was able to test them in a real-world simulation, and we all know that the classroom is sometimes a far reach from the Board Room.
“My then employer was one of the sponsors of the competition and I had been asked to put a team together. There were three of us, a colleague at the office and my study mate from the MBA. In an unexpected turn of events, Wacu’s team members were unavailable for the final leg of the competition. But instead of shrugging off the challenge, she decided to power on, squaring up her shoulders and taking on all the roles expected from a full team complement.
“I wish I had put more pressure on my team members to show up; I am sure we would have been a lot closer to the win if not first. However, I did put on a good show. I still have all three trophies to this day. My team mates refused to claim theirs, insisting that my keeping them would remind me that I did the work of three people that day.
“Completing third in the final when I was by myself was amazing. Nothing else compares to the pressure I was feeling on that day, and I would have loved to win and put all the other teams to shame,” she muses with a smile. “But you know it might have been fate, maybe I wouldn’t have ventured into business if my team mates had shown up. Plus, it taught me a valuable lesson, life as an entrepreneur is a lot like this. You face challenges every day – a partner suddenly not being able to deliver at all or on time – these things happen. It’s scary but you have work through it. Resilience is something you should never be short off. Every time something doesn’t go according to plan you have to work with what you have. Things still need to keep moving.
The GMC experience also reinforced Wacu’s appreciation of how interlinked departments are within a business. “One small hiccup can affect the overall performance of the business. It doesn’t matter how unimportant that department seems, it is crucial to the end game. I for one having only worked in IT at the time didn’t consider a marketing department as very important. And that informed a lot of my decisions in the simulations. It affected my company’s performance for sure. I definitely learned my lesson as far as taking every department seriously. They are all there for a reason. There is no job less important than the other.”
Even with the heat at the national finals, everyone was very supportive. For Wacu, it didn’t feel much like a competition until the very end, when there had to be a winner. “The camaraderie doesn’t really reflect the real world where things can get pretty hectic. However, a world like that would be very ideal.”
“Planning and forecasting. This is one lesson that took me off guard. In employment these sorts of things aren’t exactly your problem, unless you are in a strategic management position. I have had to work in a structured way to build the Mosara brand. Having plans and budgets and sticking to them is rather impossible in the real world, but having them and veering off a little is better than not having one at all.”
“I obviously took action way too fast after that, but it’s never too early to start chasing your destiny! I pretty much left employment soon after the competition. I had no plan when I left my job, but because of the GMC, I felt that I would make it in whatever I got into next.
“I took away many valuable lessons away with me from the GMC – like being a little more patient with everyone. The realization that every piece of the puzzle is equally important means that I cannot overlook anybody associated with my business. I try to give everyone and everything a chance and see whether it fits first. The GMC gives participants a little more confidence to get out there and do something on their own. It will also definitely help them perform better at various roles both in employment and as business owners.
“It’s kind of is a crash course MBA in its own way!” She finishes.