Esther Neema is currently representing her country (Kenya) at the Africa Youth Development Commission (AYDEC). And She’s the main communication advisor for LAMUKANI in the rural coast of Kenya, she’s also serving the same capacity at the Yali Nairobi Alumni Network (YNAN).
Esther Neema is the founder and president of Dream Tribe. She fully believes Dream Tribe can help young people fulfill their dreams in enterprises, business development, public and marketing.
Esther has a rich background on stage in acting and in journalism. And she’s passionate about youth and entrepreneurship.
1. How did the idea for your business come about?
I started my first business as an events company. Then it evolved in to catering. I notice that my greatest challenge was access to markets. So, I start to revisit my business and wonder how can I expand the business. This is where the ides started. It was key to create a system, so that we don’t just get lucky, we have a plan and above all, a community, that becomes a support system.
So, on this faithful day at 4:00 in the AM, in 2016, I got an epiphany. What if we had a network, a community of people in Business and Marketers! Then we would share networks and more links to markets. That way, entrepreneurs would always have a tribe to belong.
I called it the Network. It was going to be everything I wished I had as an entrepreneur, a home and the community that I had always wished for.
It was a chance for all of us to participate in something bigger than ourselves, fueling everybody’s dreams through collaboration. It was going to validate 1000 dreams in time.
2. What was your key driving force to become an entrepreneur?
Leaving school, it never occurred to me there was a world of entrepreneurship. Having studied PR, the government spokesman, Alfred Mutua, then was my role model. I could see myself strutting the world as one, perhaps in red high heels, red lipstick. Well, this vision was until I got my first job, and I was bored to death in the afternoons literally having to lift my feet in the air daily not to dose, reaching work just before the 9:00 am, rushing in wearing my heels at the gate since it was a rule.
And I remember being so unsettled, and thinking, yo, this can’t be it!!! So one day, in my wandering years, my father, took my brother and I to the Market, walked us in to the stalls, literally taking all brochures to show us trade, I was Soaked in speeches on Rich Dad Poor dad. And there I was writing notes, as if this was just the bible. Astound by this huge possible world surely. You mean. He told us narrative of his hustler friends who straight out of college went in to business, and now could buy the world. I was sold out
3. How did you come up with the name for your company?
In Africa, Tribe have such high importance for individuals. They provide a great support system and a sense of belonging. I wanted a space where entrepreneurs can belong.
4. How did you raise funding for your venture?
I have funded myself, through working on jobs. I have occasionally gotten support from family.
5. How do you build a successful customer base?
Through social media and being part of many networks. Many are also friends and former colleagues.
6. How do you market your business, and which tactics have been most successful?
Social media has got me many clients. I am constantly talking about Dream Tribe. That way, many people have approached me to work with them. Equally I pitch to corporates directly.
7. What kind of culture exists in your organization, and how did you establish it?
I observed that in an African community: “Poverty was a foreign concept. This could only be really brought about to the entire community by an adverse climate during a particular season. It never was considered repugnant to ask one’s neighbors for help if one was struggling .In almost all instances there was help between individuals, tribe, Chiefs, etc. even in spite of war” This explains why a community may have poor people but it may not have beggars”
Thus by using the same African spirit of coming together, establish great communities that influence great change in the entrepreneurship sector.
In Africa, the problem of one,is the problem of all. In Kenya, Haraambe made everything achievable. Tanzania Ujamaa ensures everybody wins. South-Africa, Ubuntu ensure that the principle of humanity thrives above all. In the sense that for a community to be well, all must be well.
How can these African principles engrained in our values leverage our success as traders in Africa. That together ALL and not ONE we leverage our unity for larger markets and a louder voice. In Business, the Indians, Somalis, and Kikuyus practice this, and you see their success in business is unquestionable. So you and Me, and every business person needs that sense of brotherhood, that we may equally survive. “Leave behind no one” and at last “Create an Africa that we want” That indeed should be our legacy
8. What motivates you?
I am motivated to see more young people live the life of their dreams. And I am inspired to empower the young people to discover their full potentials.
9. How do you generate new ideas?
I have many Dream Teams and together we come up with great ideas.
10. Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
1+1=2. In most case, it is not about Re-inventing the wheel. It is actually about choosing paths. In most cases, paths had pegged consequent results. It is the reason gaining knowledge or for the first time accepting that you are short, you would start experience different experiences. Thus in learning a lot from others, we save on time and stop gallivanting aimlessly. We now start to move with a purpose. I was blessed to have amazing women who taught me and showed me the way, starting from my producer, who not only believed in me and gave me my first TV job and literally introduced me to make up and power, to the women that I interviewed on the show who were power itself, who I would later follow for life skills. Forever grateful that these women, let me in to their spaces, and that I would forever be a different person, than who I was before I met them.
11. What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
FREEDOM: having this lifestyle allowed me to do the many things. Allowed me to spend my twenties learning, maybe not making as much as all, he he he he, some days I was below the poverty line. It was only when I looked back that I realized, I was now becoming “overqualified”. Being a perennial volunteer had built my expertise. And learned mostly, You are whoever, you say you are.
As TD Jakes put it, WHAT YOU DO IS NOT WHO YOU ARE!!! WHEN PEOPLE GIVE YOU TITLE THEY IMPRISON YOU. YOU ARE WHATEVER IS IN YOU. YOU ARE MORE THAN WHAT PEOPLE CALL YOU , MORE THAN THE JOB TITLE.”
Thus, it became key to discover: What am I made of, my capacity? How far can I stretch? Who do I want to be? And most importantly made me discover Multiple sources. And no oe could stop me.
12. What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
When we see satisfaction in who we are serving and actually get paid for it.
13. What piece of advice would you give to university graduates who want to become entrepreneurs?
WHY YOU SHOULD BE A TRADER
Trade as something so noble. Half the time you are feeling ultimately crazy for an idea that sometimes doesn’t even make sense to even you. That you have to chant you are amazing on the daily to maintain sanity, before anything particularly shows for why you are gallivanting the universe. And you may wonder, why would anybody want to feel like this eh???
Far from the truth though, something is happening in your heart, your body and soul. You are probably working round the clock for something you feel strongly about, that sometimes wakes you at 3:00 in the am, because you can’t imagine never having given your dreams a chance. Staying late at night after work for it. Trying to discover the how, because your why is so strong.
You have big dreams that force you be better, to serve better and give more your contribution to earth. You learn every day, you grow, you negotiate, you shamelessly sell. Somehow you become a force in time. You wear many hats that you can be anyone in a company, you have had to do it all by yourself, before you find fellow dreamers. YOU BECOME, you are different.
You learn you can give it to yourself, you become your CEO, your marketer, and your greatest cheerleader. You learn to be social and basically a better human. How powerful!!! You can have your cakes and eat them all. You don’t take no for an answer when it comes to your dreams, you Just do it!!!
You learn, as my mentor put’s it, there is no shame in the game. And you just keep moving until you see the magic. And nothing is more beautiful than when you realize, I CAN DO IT!!! And it wasn’t really hard, it was simple. I feel those are the things that make it all worth it. You can do it.
And above all, you get to serve humanity in a large way by providing solutions to the problems we experience everyday.
12. If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
I wouldn’t, I guess
13. Who has been your greatest inspiration? Oprah
14. If you had a magic stick, which are the three things you would change in the world?
- I would ensure equality of opportunities.
- I would upgrade slums.
- I would make everyone believe in themselves.
15. What is the part of your life experience you would alter if you had the chance to?
I would have studied business.
16. If you were to write a book about yourself, how would you name it?