FIVE QUESTIONS: Undertake every task with the spirit of excellence

Daphine Okonji is the founder Elle Interior designers. PHOTO| COURTESY

1.What were you doing at 23?

I had decided that employment was not for me, and had started building my business.

2.Who is your role model?

From Richard Branson, I borrow the aspect of having fun at work. I admire Donald Trump’s no non-sense business attitude.

Locally, I look up to Jennifer Baraza because she built a successful company from the ground up.

3.Your most valuable advice to a young woman reading this?

There are many stereotypes regarding women, for instance, that men make better business people because they are tougher, or that it is impossible to build a business when you have young children. Do not pay attention to them.

4.How do you get through the rough patches?

The business lows aren’t so low because my passion is my business. Do what you love.

5.Which book has most impacted you as an entrepreneur?

Denis Waitley’s The New Dynamics of Goal Setting was a life changer. It helped me shift my focus from the non-issues to the important goals in business.

Rock bottom was the foundation that Daphine built her successful business. It took losing her job eight years ago for her to realise her potential as an entrepreneur.

Her company has won several awards, including the Africa SMME award in 2013, and the Africa property award 2013-2014.



  • She started by building her personal brand. A good brand, she says, will propel your business forward. The two feed off each other.

  • She does continuous research to improve her skills so that she can stay ahead of the pack.

  • Being in business in Kenya is challenging, and she reckons that to pull through, you have to believe in something. She has a good relationship with God.

  • She just doesn’t dish out her business cards. She networks with a strategy.

  • Every task that she undertakes, she does it with the spirit of excellence.

Interview by Joan Thatiah