With an unemployment rate of 17%, about 8.09 million Kenyans between the ages of 18 to 34 are unemployed. To cope with this situation more and more young Kenyans are having to learn the skill of running a business if they want to earn a living.
Fortunately, this specific age category has been advantaged by the advent of new niches in the society that were not there just five years ago: personal shopping, social media management and influencer marketing. We interviewed one such young lady, Miss Annie Kaniu, a business owner, to pick her brain on how she is excelling at her novel field. This is what she had to say.
What exactly is it that you do?
I run a Digital Marketing Agency called NIU Media that helps our clients get more leads and customers through paid traffic.
How did you come up with this name?
(Smiling) I kept it simple. NIU is basically the last 3 letters of my name Kaniu.
How did you get started?
February 11th, 2020 was the exact date I started my company. Little did I know that the coronavirus was just around the corner…Anyway, I digress. I got the idea for my company when I was in university studying law. I just didn’t feel like I fit in with the whole university education scene. Probably because I was studying to become a lawyer when digital marketing had already won me over.
I was already interested in digital marketing even before going to university. I was helping small businesses manage their social media. When I got to campus, I whole-heartedly gave my time to my law studies, despite the feeling that it wasn’t meant for me. When we went on break, I wanted to make some cash. I looked at the business ideas available versus the capital I had and I was discouraged. During this time I met a mentor.
This was so timely because when I was initially running social media for small businesses before campus, I found myself doing more and more to the extent that I was basically running the businesses I worked for. This mentor helped me whittle down to offering only one specific expertise and thus, NIU was born.
How did you navigate starting a business a month before the pandemic hit?
It was crazy. At that point, I had decided to quit school and go all-in on my business. I had not told my parents yet. My plan was to get results and let them speak for me. When the pandemic hit, it ironically made it easier to work on NIU because all the physical classes went online.
I went about looking for clients as normal and I got a few ‘yes’ answers. In March, it all came tumbling down. Most businesses were downsizing rather than hiring. Nevertheless, I persisted. I was reaching out to clients but I was often disappointed. December came and I finally landed my first big client. A client I had reached out to earlier but they weren’t ready by then.
I experienced so much personal growth during the pandemic. I don’t regret it.
What’s a typical day in a digital marketer’s life?
First, I work from home. We send weekly reports to our clients. Schedule and monitor sales calls depending on our targets…just the normal things required in the day-to-day running of a business. We’re also working on a course that can help those in need of our services but are currently unable to afford them. It will be a social ads school.
Any business advice?
Specifically for those intending to quit school to start a business as I did, I‘d advise you to try and do both simultaneously. This will make sure that by the time you quit your schooling your business can sustain you.
Are you a workaholic?
I used to be a workaholic. My sister would tell me I had no social life. I’ve tried to get some balance between work and play such that these days I feel like being in harmony. I like watching dramas on TV, going to cinemas, listening to music, having a conversation with friends and traveling- which I’d like to do more of.