My advice to the youth: Make your ideas happen

By: ANGELA OKETCH

Ruth Mwanzia is founder of Koola Water Company. She shares with Lifestyle about her journey into business

Q: Tell us about yourself?

A: I am a 26-year-old lady, a strong believer in God and the director of Koola Waters Company. I am pursuing a Master’s degree at Africa Nazarene University.

Tell us about your firm. When did you start?

The company manufactures, packages and treats drinking water in Karen. I started in October last year.

What motivated you?

As a child I wanted to be a neurosurgeon, and I loved reading Ben Carson’s books which really inspired me, but with age my interests changed.

What motivated me was my passion to provide clean and safe drinking water in Kitui which is where I come from.

It’s a semi-arid area and it rarely rains and there is scarcity of clean water. Growing up, most children used to suffer from water borne diseases. I was motivated to come up with a solution.

Why the name Koola? What does it mean?

Koola Waters, it is a connotation of the name cool, because when you drink water it leaves you cool and hydrated. And also “K” stands for Karen where it is manufactured and “K” stands for Kenya. My mother suggested the name and I loved it.

Where did you get the starting capital?

From my personal savings and my parents. We went to Davis & Shirtliff and bought the treatment plant. We then registered the company and got the relevant certification from Kebs.

What did the Entrepreneurship Summit mean to you as an entrepreneur, what new thing did it bring to the business?

Kenya has so much potential for growth and that doing business in Kenya is possible, you just need to have a great business plan.

There are many venture capitalists and investors willing to invest in good businesses.

How is the journey since you opened your company?

It has been both tough and enjoyable. I have learned a lot and still learning because I am doing what I love and that brings me so much joy.

What challenges have you encountered so far?

Competition and also penetrating the market sometimes takes time. It is not easy to get into the market as a startup. It took me time but I am happy I have a share of the market.

What would you tell young people who want to start their businesses?

That they should not sit on their ideas, they should share them and start. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single stride.

If they have an idea, they should not be worried where the capital is going to come from. Little by little they will realise their goals.

What exactly do you do at the company?

I do everything from packaging the water, marketing the product and supervising the company’s operations.

Are you married? If not are you dating?

No, for now I am single, my hands are full.

What do you love doing at your free time?

As part of my CSR project I am working with a few friends and my networking group, Nairobi Young City Entrepreneurs, to build a better shelter for the children at the Korogocho Children’s Centre.

What in your life has brought you the greatest satisfaction?

I would say salvation and having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

What is your day like?

I wake up at 5am, do my devotion. The rest of the day is spent managing the company’s operations and in the evening I go to class.

What are your future plans?

I want Koola Waters to expand and get to be known throughout East Africa and for it to be a household name in Kenya.

Where do you go for holidays?

I love going to the Coast because of the climate and sandy beaches and Dubai because I love shopping.

Who are your role models?

I have many; in leadership I admire the late President Nelson Mandela, in business I admire Richard Branson and in education I admire Ben Carson.

What keeps you going?

My faith in God, strong family support and love, and a few close friends.

Your favourite food?

Pilau, grilled chicken and mukimo.

What do you like doing for fun?

I love travelling, reading and blogging.