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Mums in Business : Amadiva Founder Maureen Murunga
Introduce yourself – tell us a bit about yourself and your business
- How many kids do you have and what are their ages?
I have two girls. Twins. They just turned 2 in July.
- What do you think is the best part about being a parent in Kenya today?
Family and help. There are family and friends who are always willing to help and indulge the munchkins. The saying ‘It takes a village to raise children’ is so true. Although getting the right help is challenging, once you do it has helped in getting me back to work comfortably
- How many selfies do you take daily? Weekly? Of your kids?
When they were born it was literally by the hour. The first year is very exciting and I wanted to document every moment. We did a couple of photo shoots. It’s a lot less now but still the phone camera is always at hand capturing most cute moments.
Tell us about your Business
- When and why did you start your business? Before that, what were you doing?
I started my business in 2013 officially. Before that I was in the banking sector for 10 years before I left to pursue ‘biashara’. I did some research into the hair beauty industry for a couple of years when I took a sabbatical from the bank. After realizing that there was a gap in the Afro Hair market to cater for the growing black middle class, I set out to set up the first African professional franchise hair and beauty services and products. The idea was to have lifestyle brand that would offer world class standardized services and products. Professional hair sales in Kenya recorded at Kshs 5.2 Billion in 2009. Despite the compelling size of the hair industry the black hair industry is fragmented with no ‘recognised salon franchise brands’ in Africa. This is in stark contrast with the Caucasian hair industry that have strong brands with some listed in stock markets such as Regis Corporation, Vidal Sassoon, Aveda, Lakme and Toni & Guy.
- Please share the main need your business is filling in the market and who your main customers are?
I decided to explore the opportunities in the hair industry. The concept is to harness the fragmented black market with a unique brand, AMADIVA. The idea was to develop a natural salon franchise that would deliver premier grooming services and products. The brand, AMADIVA, will create standardized salon experiences.
- Do you have any special services for pregnant women or new mothers?
We love mummies and serve them with all sorts of beauty and hair services. We are currently setting up a special on call service which new mothers and pregnant women will benefit from immensely.
- The ‘art of the start’ is often said to be very difficult – what was the hardest part about getting your business off the ground?
The two most difficult parts have been access to knowledge. When you are clueless about certain issues that can bring your business to a grinding halt when you make the wrong decisions. I learnt the hard way through making some crazy mistakes. But once you know better, you do better. Secondly, finding good personnel for a start up is difficult. In order to win the best expertise, you constantly have to pitch your idea over and over. It can be tough to feel like you’re constantly persuading your team. Luckily I love the art of persuasion.
- What is the most rewarding thing about being an entrepreneur in Kenya? And the most frustrating?
The most rewarding is that everything here is novelty and there are lots of opportunities to create and innovate. There is so much information from developed nations meaning you can research on your idea and most likely it has been tried somewhere. Take the lessons and run with it.
The downside is a lack of structure and regulation to implement ideas quickly. For example in the hair and beauty industry we do not have a regulator. It is also tricky navigating delays in getting approvals for certain aspects of business.
- Is this your first business idea you have tried, or have you tried others previously?
This is not my first business. I tried two others and failed miserably. I also co-founded and sold another business that is doing phenomenally. I wish I’d held on to my stake.
- What is the nicest thing a client has said about your business?
The best thing that clients say is ‘How beautiful’ they feel when they leave Amadiva. My best comment though was when I overheard two clients discussing if the brand was local. Apparently they had seen it on a London High street. I was like ‘Yessssss!’
- Is there any advice you received along the way that you’re glad you ignored?
Yes. That the natural trend WAS a trend! It’s not. Some people will off the band wagon but most who understand the benefit to their hair and health will not be going back.
- What do you like most about MumsVillage and what would you change?
A community of moms sharing ideas. I love the Articles and support. Please add more articles and support for mothers of multiples.
- Lastly, what or who made you most happy today?
My daughter Lou this morning flagged me off with ‘I love you’. My heart melted even though I was grumpy and fluey. She just started talking.