Passionate as she was about it, CSR consulting was a hard sell especially to the smaller companies in Kenya. This was mainly because it digs into profit and the returns are not seen immediately.
“I chased my first client for four months before they finally gave in,” she says.
Sitting at the helm of a CSR consulting firm, 28-year-old Rosemary Wahome owes her business success to the three jobs she held before finally taking the plunge into the world of entrepreneurship. Each job provided her with valuable lessons and insights
that she credits with her success today.
Her first job after graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Kenyatta University was at a non-governmental organisation. She was based in Kawangware, Nairobi, where she got to experience the life of the less fortunate firsthand. She was able to
touch lives and see the domino effect as the people she helped in turn helped other people. However, six months into her job, the NGO was plagued with funding problems and she had to leave.
“This was when I knew there was a real problem out there. We were relying on foreign donors when we have our own successful firms who can effectively change the communities round them,” she recalls her light bulb moment.
At this point she knew she wanted to spend her life changing the lives of the less fortunate for the better, just as she had done during her stint in Kawangware. She, however, did not have the expertise or the means to do this so she took her second job.
“I worked as a business development manager for a magazine which featured entrepreneurs born and bred in Kenya,” she says of her second job.
Here, she came face to face with self-made successful entrepreneurs. When the magazine finally folded because of cash flow problems, she learnt an even more important lesson – she now knew not to start a business without a plan.
Her third job was at the treasury department of a local bank. There, she learnt the importance of systems in a business. Two-and-a-half years later, in September 2014, she finally felt ready to start her business.
“I juggled work with working on my MBA, so I had the knowledge I needed to put together a business plan and I knew exactly who I was targeting.”
At the mention of corporate social responsibility, charity and handouts come to mind, but Rosemary’s business involves looking at CSR in a deeper sense. Her aim is to get companies to look at the environmental and economic parts of it.