Writer Beryl Itindi: How I rose from rejection to respected businesswoman

Social Media influencer Beryl Wanga Itindi at Nation Center on January 9, 2023.

Photo credit: Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • When Beryl Itindi, 38, posted two contrasting photos of herself on Facebook, she solicited quite some reactions.
  • The first snap, depicted a past of struggle, rejection and despair.
  • Today, she tells a different story. She is a branding and communications expert, an author and a businesswoman, running two schools in Syokimau, Nairobi

“In the first photo, my daughter was about seven months or so. I was just settling into my new job and I was in the process of putting my life together. I was in a big mess— from my finances to my emotions.

On the day I took the first photo, I was from the shower and had gone out to air my stuff. One of my close friends started laughing and told me, “Beryl, please stand there and let me take a photo of you. I need you to look back years from now and see where God pulled you from.” She took several shots and we laughed.

By the way, during this time, only my nuclear family members and two close friends knew about my situation. I put up a brave face and painted a very comfortable life.

In fact, most of my friends don’t always believe that I was once in that situation because I never showed it. I would turn up for events and parties as if all was well. I made sure I had clothes that covered me well especially around my neck because my jutting shoulder bones were my big sell out!

During that period, I was a weekly newspaper columnist in one of the main Kenyan dailies and every Saturday, my audience always looked forward to a hilarious piece. I had to wake up each morning and brave everything, and pen down beautiful pieces not only for the newspaper but also for my online fans.

We never thought much about that photo until sometime last year. My friend sent me the photos and told me, “I told you these photos would come in handy in the future. Look at them and compare with how you look now.”

The second photo was just after my school celebrated its first graduation ceremony. Sometime in 2018, I started a school. My first graduands who joined as daycare children graduated in 2022. Two months ago, I launched another branch. It’s been one adventurous journey I must say.

The genesis that led to circumstances surrounding the first photo can be traced back to 2014. I met this man, who had been a virtual friend for years before we physically met in Nairobi.

I was working already, and as for him, he had told me he ran quite a number of businesses, insisting that they were located miles away. I however never saw any specific business he ran. 

We started dating and we planned a blissful future together. It didn’t take long before we conceived sometime in 2015. This was to be one of the best news to us (so I thought), but it turned out to be good news to only me.

After I broke the news, my boyfriend grew cold and scarce. By the time I was in my third month, he had disappeared into the thin air. He stopped picking up my calls or responding to my texts. I have never seen him since.

On the other hand, the organisation I worked for was undergoing some serious financial strains and salaries would delay for up to two months. I could hardly settle my bills, and so I was forced to abandon my house due to rent arrears and settle in a hostel.

I was penniless. At one point I was craving mangoes that had some hot chilli and I couldn’t afford them. I cried like a baby that evening. I suffered from severe morning sickness and could barely eat anything. I threw up the better part of anything I ingested and that made me lose weight.

The hostel posed several challenges. I was 30 and the hostel was full of teens and those in their early 20s. I felt out of place but I pressed on. My bed was an upper-decker, so you can imagine the climbing and jumping with a big belly.

I was diagnosed with fibroids after experiencing serious pains during my pregnancy. The pregnancy was then termed high risk and I could barely walk. At seven months, I was put on total bed rest. That’s when I moved from the hostel and into my sister’s house.

In all this, my family has been very supportive of me.

They were always on call to assure me that all was going to be well. They respected my choice of not telling anyone about my pregnancy till I had the baby.

Only a handful of my friends knew about my pregnancy.

Many people were shocked the day I posted on social media that I had had a baby.

Things became worse after birth as I slowly slipped into postpartum depression while at the same time suffered panic attacks. I had to see a counsellor for three months in order to cope and manage the situation.

A year and a half after having my daughter, it started dawning on me that I was actually my daughter's only parent. I had to snap out of it because she fully depended on me.

When her time to join school came, I visited several schools in my neighbourhood and the fees were really high. I started wondering if I was really going to manage all the bills by myself and still live a comfortable life.

That's when I decided to start an alternative source of income to boost my finances. I had always dreamt of starting a daycare since my early years, so I took a loan from my Sacco and ventured into the daycare business. My daughter was basically my only client for three months.

Bees Haven Daycare and Kindergarten in Syokimau was started in 2018. We launched the primary section last year. I remember when I shared with a few friends that I wanted to take a loan to start the daycare, most of them discouraged me saying it was a bad idea to take a loan to start a business. The urge was too strong though, so I took a leap of faith and took three loans from three different places amounting to two million.

The journey was never near easy, at some point I almost closed the school due to bills. Sometime in 2019, I almost slipped into depression. I took other small loans later and gave the daycare the best I could in terms of the infrastructure and staff. One year into the business, we were voted first runners-up Childminding Business of the Year in Kenya. It was such a big award to us considering we had only been in business for a year. We beat others who had been in the field for years.

That alone was encouragement. We currently have about 50 students in our kindergarten and the primary section that was launched last year and is supposed to start operations already has 20 registered pupils since the launch. My daughter is and has always been a pupil in the school.

As for my book, I already have the manuscript. It’s been quite tough juggling between being a mother, an employee, an employer, a writer and a fiancée. The manuscript is however ready and is already with the publishers. It's honestly been a long wait.

Relationship-wise, in the past, I wasn’t a good judge of character. I’ve always made very wrong choices! 

This time round though, I am home and dry. I am booked, packed and sealed. Ready for dispatch to my matrimonial home. Yes, I met my match and we will be tying the knot soon.

I am now settled both financially and emotionally. I am in perfect shape physically and I am spiritually well nourished.”