I found my purpose at 40, and amid a pandemic

Event organiser Lorraine Kirigia. Photo | Pool

What you need to know:

Lorraine Kirigia is the Chief Visionary Officer of ELLE, an event management company, and also the current President of the Rotary Club of Karen

For most, the saying life begins at 40 is just that, a saying! But for 41-year-old Lorraine Kirigia, her life literally began at forty and she is enjoying every second of it. The mother of one tried her hand at many things before finally finding her passion and hitting the reset button. 

“For a very long time, I struggled to find my purpose. I tried many things. In 2021, I turned 40 and my prayer was that that would be my reaping year. Then on January 8, 2021, I lost a very close friend. This loss threw our lives into indescribable pain. But there was some silver lining from the pain, Epic Lorraine Life Events (ELLE) was born, after a week of many plans to give our loved one a befitting send-off,” says Lorraine. 

A few friends from the corporate world sat her down in her best friend’s backyard and told her “It is time to do events for a living. It is who you are.” 

“These endearing ladies wrote down a list of things I do very well; organising epic events, bringing people together whether— for business, social or for a worthy cause— and which come effortlessly to me,” the mother-of-one says. 

After this sit-down, she decided to give it a shot. 

“After experimenting with different names and looking at my key strengths, ELLE was born, complete with a strategy,” she continues.

In February 2021, they registered it and in March they did their first event as ELLE; a charity memorial golf tournament in honour of the friend who passed away in January.

“It was a resounding success! We have since held Mother’s Day in May for mums in heaven in partnership with Stanbic Bank, Father’s day in June in partnership with Safaricom, in July 2021 we had Pan African Women’s Day and a few weeks later, we hosted a four-day webinar with amazing speakers as we marked the International Youth Week. My biggest wins are having so many people participate in our events and having big brands endorse our events.”  

“I based the ELLE philosophy firmly on the cycle of life. We host memorable events that celebrate, honour or mark significant life moments. We do Bursary Fund Management where we help organisations manage their bursary funds by ensuring needy children access education, mentorship among other benefits,” Lorraine shares. 

During the reunions, the empowered beneficiaries meet and look back on their lives. They celebrate their successes and keep the cycle of life running. The mentees become mentors and give back that which they receive.

At this time, Lorraine was serving as the President-Elect of the Rotary Club of Karen and was finally sworn in as the President on 21 May 2022. “My house now has two presidents. My daughter Malika was appointed president of her class in April 2022 and I am super proud of her,” she says with a sparkle in her eyes.

“Giving back to the community has been at the core of who I am. It is where I find my greatest joy. In 2007 I registered Xmas Torch; an organisation that treats and gifts the less privileged, persons with disabilities, those living with HIV & AIDS and the orphaned children to a Christmas party. Since its inception, we have gifted over 7,000 children country wide.”

In 2017, a friend who knew of Lorraine’s passion for giving invited her to attend a Rotary meeting and she completely fell in love with their motto of Service above Self. “I was hooked and since then I have served in different roles at my club, The Rotary Club of Karen. I am honoured to be serving as the President.”

Lorraine is proud that she is among the first women to sit at the helm of the organisation. 

"Nothing is More Powerful than an Idea Whose Time has Come" she quotes the great French poet and author Victor Hugo. 

“In 117 years, Rotary International how has the first female President,” she notes. Women were only allowed to be Rotary members in 1987! But this year (2022) has seen almost 70 percent of female Presidents. 

"This is indeed a special year as we imagine the possibilities in the change we can make to transform the world. We have been called to dream big and harness our connections and the power of Rotary to turn those dreams into reality. Imagine Rotary and the impact we can make in the world." I feel extremely fortunate and humbled to be steering the ship of The Rotary Club of Karen in these special times,” says Lorraine who prides in the organisation’s selfless ethos. 

Lorraine plans to use her networking skills and contacts to bring together the business community around the club to implement impactful projects around. Her wish and dream is to collaborate with different clubs (she recently returned from a trip to Lagos) where many alliances with different clubs were formed. 

Raising awareness about Rotary within the Karen community is at top of her agenda as President. 

“I also intend on working with children with special needs and ensuring they don’t miss school,” Lorraine says. 

As the Chief Visionary Officer of ELLE, she says they are focusing on celebrating days in the calendar that are marked globally. “We do it in unique ways and are open to partnerships not just to celebrate the day but to show why it is significant and worth celebrating if at all.” 

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