African women continue to surprise the world in every aspect of life. Form being survivors of the cruelty in war to starting new businesses and giving back to their community. African women are now at the front of many companies and startups that are now becoming successful. African women and families have to struggle a lot to reach their dreams, but even so it is possible for each one of them. The story of Agnes Mulewa is about how somebody can overcome obstacles and still reach the goal of having a multimillion business under her watch. This is her story, or at least some of the highlights of it.
Since she was very young odds were not on her favor. She grew up without a father figure and struggling family to pay for education fees. “All these however, did not stop me from becoming somebody in this society” as she says. She started working at the age of 17 and having contact with people from higher economic level who gave her the motivation to look for a brighter future. Even since she was very young, she bought pencils to re-sell them at school for a higher price. She sees herself as a positive person “I believe I am a very positive person, I do not allow anything to bring me down, although emotionally I struggled I believe due to the lack of a father, I pushed on” Business was in her blood, she knew the ups and downs of life and now she had the motivation.
Agnes has not yet finished the university because she took a break from classes to focus full time on the business. She is now going back to study in May. While taking classes at the university, she realized that she had a lot of free time between classes. She then decided to start doing research on her business idea and get a better picture of it before formally launching the business and start looking for clients.
She then came up with an idea called IBS, International Brands Solutions. IBS is a Market Research company that works at understanding markets and targets and report to their clients whether their products will sell or not, or if it is viable to launch a product or tap into certain market. Most people start businesses assuming they will work in the market, but they do not have accurate information to know if their product is going to be successful or not, or what could be the product´s life cycle on certain market. She then realized while in 2nd year that there was a need to explore research for business purposes for products for new markets and old products that wanted to explore new possibilities. IBS focuses on questions such as Who are the clients selling to? Is there a need in the market? If there is a need, how are clients going to sell? IBS then proposes a marketing strategy for the clients and based on those and many other key questions and in depth research.
The business was registered only in 2015 but had been working for many years before. IBS is not a big company at all and in only six months and with only six employees (A research analyst, a creative officer, an operations officer, an accountant, digital marketer, and a social media officer), according to its latest accounts, it has already made profits of over Sh1 million.
Agnes Mulewa faces challenges like any other company or CEO in any other business. Some of her biggest challenges are that companies are not ready to hear that they need to rebrand or that they cannot sell in certain market despite the numbers and figures; some companies are not totally convinced of the success of such research and the period of time and budget are not enough for Agnes´ company to complete the mandate. Also, her age sometimes is an issue when it comes to very traditional companies. But the results give a different picture and always attract more clients.
Although she is much respected in the business world, she feels that being young and rich is part of a stereotype for women. She thinks that women in Africa are not prepared for the future because education is not giving them the tools or the direction they need to stand out in society. She thinks girls should give the same attention they give to beauty and fame to education, business knowledge and career advance. She also has a girl empowerment program to mentor those girls who want to get into business. The audience in this program is mainly women and girls that are discovering what they really want to do in the future with their career choice so they can be prepared to be successful and manage their personal, spiritual and professional wealth the best way possible.