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2018 Governors Startup Challenge Finalist, Khadija, Shares her story.

It is one of the enduring memories of her childhood that fueled her desire to start WAYODI Enterprise to ensure that women, youth and people with disabilities have access to opportunities while growing up, and can start businesses that can give them a better life. Here is our interview with the 2018 Governors Startup Challenge Finalist, Khadija Abdallah..

Khadija would you tell us the story behind starting your business?

Growing up in a humble background in the ‘90s inspired my desire to venture into business that not only helps me but the community at large. The urge to transform, develop and ensure social inclusion to my community is what drove me to start WAYODI (Women, Youth and People with Disabilities) Enterprise. After completing my high school in 2012, I faced some hard truth while hunting for a job. The rate of youth unemployment, radicalization, school dropouts and social crime were overwhelming. I started venturing in small businesses such as making cupcakes, snacks and selling clothes and other items from Tanzania and China. However, growing as a person was not satisfying, with the highest rate of youth unemployment, women and people with disabilities who were vulnerable to extremism and other social crimes. I decided to seek training in various informal sector then share the skills with vulnerable youth and women in my community. I paid for shaggy mat training, joined baking and pastry school to improve my skills in baking, and purchased videos on how to make khaki bags for packaging as well as gift bags. And in early 2018 I started WAYODI enterprise to equip vulnerable youth with hands-on skills on business and entrepreneurship. So far WAYODI has trained 5 girls in production of khaki bags, helping them to sustain themselves while at the same time providing an alternative to the ban of plastic bags.

What services are you offering and what makes your business unique?

I always strive to identify a problem and offer solution to my community. WAYODI is a Social Enterprise designed to offer solutions to youth unemployment, women and people with disabilities. We equip these marginalized people with hands on entrepreneurial skills such as making khaki bags, shaggy mat and baking hence addressing unemployment, drug abuse and other social crimes.

We also promote environmental conservation by producing quality and cost effective khaki bags as an alternative for plastic bags which are harmful to the environment. In Mombasa, we have less than 5 enterprises that make khaki bags. This provides an opportunity for us to fill the gap in the provision of affordable and Eco-friendly packaging bags.

What has driven you to be successful in your business?

My passion for empowering and developing my community is my motivating factor. The fact that I am positively contributing to the development of my community and knowing that I have the ability and opportunity to make a difference is what drives me, inspires me, and motivates me to strive in my business every day. I aspire to contribute to the national growth and live in an environment that is crime free and economically sustainable.

How does your business help the community around you?

WAYODI is a social enterprise that offers hands on training and entrepreneurial skills to youth, women and people with disabilities. It inspires and aspire people to achieve their goals no matter how small and regardless of their status. By encouraging innovation and entrepreneurial activities in the community, we help in eradicating poverty, drug abuse, violent extremism, prostitution and other crimes. We also create a sense of responsibility and brotherhood where people in the community strive to live in peace and harmony with one another.

What challenges have you experienced since you started your business?

As an aspiring entrepreneur, the challenges I have encountered sometimes force me to quit, but I keep on reminding myself that the road towards success is not easy. I have come across many obstacles such as lack of startup capital, negative public attitude, lack of trust and support on the idea and stiff competition from established businesses. Balancing between employment and my business is also a challenge. I sometimes find myself not having enough time to meet with my trainees. But with determination, hard work and resilience, I believe I can overcome these challenges.

How did you feel when you were selected to participate in GSC2018?

It was such an emotional moment for me. I never thought someone will actually consider and understand my idea. My take on entrepreneurship had been on people focusing on the profit aspect and no one would think of investing in a social enterprise. When I got selected as a finalist for the 2018 Governors Startup Challenge, I developed a “GO FOR IT” attitude that I never had before. I opened myself to more opportunities for business and personal development like YEPI. I also joined many forums to explore more on social enterprises. It has even inspired me to dedicate more time and focus on my project as well as increasing and strengthening my network.