We are the millennials; labeled as lazy, unreliable and indecisive by the generations that came before us. But, there are those amongst us who are tearing this myth apart by working multiple jobs to make ends meet, pursuing their dreams and starting their own businesses all at the same time.
One such millennial is 24 year-old Deborah Nabuyena Kisongochi.
‘I am a busy girl. Business is in my DNA and I don’t know how I would function in a work environment that doesn’t challenge me, ‘Deborah says.
Debbie has not always been this focused and industrious young woman she has evolved into.
‘I joined college in 2011, and at this time I was a still daddy’s girl, assured of getting what I want, when I want it. I had no reason to get out of my comfort zone.’
As Debbie progressed with school, an idea came to her, one that would be the start of a series of different business ventures.
‘The older you grow, the more your needs multiply. I needed some extra money at school and because I didn’t want to constantly be calling home for cash, I decided to try out selling mitumba clothes to my friends at a profit.’
Deborah would get the clothes from Nairobi through a friend who would send them to her in Kakamega, and she would immediately show them to friends who luckily, would buy.
‘This was my first business venture and it really excited me. I loved seeing the profits-however little- coming in. Though I have to admit I was never able to save anything.’
The hunger began.
In second year of campus Deborah decided to register with Oriflame so she could buy their beauty products at affordable prices.
‘Then I got the info that I can actually make money with them! That was it, the business spirit in me awakened and ready. I have been an Oriflame consultant for 5 years now, an experience I totally love. ‘
At this time, Deborah was only in her second year of campus. She wasn’t about to relax and just enjoy the experience, she hungered for more; a bigger challenge.
‘I had always been a tomboy. I joined campus rocking dreadlocks and this don’t-care attitude, you know, a girl just expressing herself. But then by the time I was starting my third year at school, I wanted to be a fashion model.’
Wooh! From a tomboy to strutting the cat-walk in six-inch high heels and dresses?
‘Yes. And I can walk in them pretty well. I didn’t just model. I also started my own modeling agency, Ingoo Models.’
This only gets better. Because of how well Ingoo Models was doing in Western Kenya, Deborah was called upon to be part of the judging panel of a number of modeling gigs in the region, including the 2015 Mr. and Miss KMTC beauty pageant.
‘You see what happens with me is when I go into a business or venture, I go in with the whole of me. I give it my all. I don’t know how to do 50-50. If I am not going to give it my best, I’d rather not start at all.’
Modeling, Oriflame, a little business here and there, soon, Deborah was out of campus and thrust into the ‘real’ world.
‘I studied Journalism, my dream career, and this is what I intended to pursue once I am done with school.’
So Deborah went ahead and applied for an internship at TV Magharibi, an upcoming television station in Bungoma County.
‘I got the opportunity and set out to make an impact within this new space. During my period at Magharibi, I conceptualized and hosted Magharibi Wedding show, which focused on wedding around western Kenya. I continued with this dream when I later moved to Tandao Television where I currently work as a reporter and host of Tandao Wedding Show.’
To put icing on the cake, Deborah set out to start her own business empire, Deyena Enterprise.
‘I registered Deyena enterprise on Ecitizen, paid for the certificate and started operations!’
Deborah is quick to note that what holds back many young people is lack of knowledge and drive.
‘Like for example, many youths don’t know about Ecitizen, and many other online platforms that are there to help us out. Yet we call ourselves the tech- savvy generation! We are afraid to start because we don’t know, and are afraid to try, and that’s sad.’
Deyena Enterprise is now four months old, and Deborah has only good plans for her new baby.
‘I am currently the manager, CEO, sales person, accountant, office messenger and everything in between. I am not complaining. I wanted this, I have a vision I must achieve.’
Away from all the busy-ness Deborah, what do you do?
‘I love cooking, so I experiment a lot with food. Also going on short nature walks to refresh my mind and do some soul-searching. I am pretty much a laid back person.’
As I finish my interview with a millennial who doesn’t care about labels and tags, I ask one final question, what does Deborah think is the problem with us, millennials?
‘We are in our comfort zones. Happy with an average life, average money, averagely worked on dreams, and average people around us, average everything. The moment you’ll start seeing the problem with being average, you’ll start working hard.’
I couldn’t have put it better.