I went from brewing Muratina as a child to running a series of successful businesses

Rahma Njiriri, 34, vying for the position of MCA in Zimmerman ward, Nairobi county. Photo | Pool

What you need to know:

Rahma Mwai, 34, started life with little hope. But despite growing up in poverty and failing her exams, she beat the odds to become an accomplished businesswoman. Her next chapter, she says, is in being the MCA for Zimmerman, Nairobi

I am the firstborn in a family of two and I grew up in Ndeiya Limuru where our grandmother raised us. She instilled in us the value of hard work and patience which I hold dearly to date. My parents separated when I was an infant, and my mother relocated to Nairobi in search of greener pastures.

I recall spending most of my time herding cattle and I felt like I was a boy because of this chore. I lacked many basic needs and I recall spending most of my weekends brewing Muratina (traditional Kikuyu liquor) with my grandmother and she would ask me to taste whether the mixture was balanced. 

At times I felt torn, and some days I wanted to vanish from the world. The challenges at home affected my academic performance and despite spending long hours reading, I often performed poorly and repeated classes one, seven, and eight. During this time, mom was trying to make ends meet and could barely support us as she also had bills in the city.

Life took a tragic turn when my grandmother died in 1996 while in class seven and my mother was forced to come back to the village to take care of us. Life was difficult and joining form one was a miracle. I was often the last pupil to report back to school because of lack of school fees but despite the challenges, I always kept hope alive. 

My mother would get “vibaruas’ in the neighborhood and we became the laughing stock in our village. I struggled all through high school and despite desiring to perform well in my KCSE, I got a mean score of C-. After high school, I had to work hard to make ends meet both for my family and me.

Looking back at my life, I am glad for every challenge I went through. Mine is a success story of a girl who moves from earning Sh30 per day and couldn’t afford basic needs, to owning a home in Nairobi’s upmarket estate of Kilimani. 

I believe in humble beginnings and I always advise people never to despise any moment because it has countless lessons to pick. I embrace every opportunity to earn money. 

My tide started turning in 2006 when a friend proposed to sponsor me to a beauty school. Despite not being passionate about beauty, I agreed and pushed through the course. After college, a Tanzanian schoolmate introduced me to a posh salon in their country, where I got work. Life changed for the better and I could afford my basic needs, support my mother, and have some savings. 

After one year, I relocated back to Kenya and with the little savings I had, started a bar in Zimmerman, Nairobi where I sold keg beer and spirits. The drinks attracted many patrons because they were pocket friendly. I extended the bar space and I could comfortably manage my bills. 

However, the industry was not an easy one, and I had to persevere challenges such as threats from policemen, as the police station became my weekend home. Some customers would also humiliate me, especially after insisting that they pay up and I faced rejection from friends who thought my job was associated with ‘umalaya’- prostitution.

Seven years later, the government introduced AGPO to the country where young people and women were encouraged to tender for government business. In October 2013, I registered a company in supplies and within a month sold my pub business. I was optimistic that it was time to embrace new beginnings and so, and with the hunger for success, I applied and won many tenders.

In 2014 I branched out into furniture delivery and supplies in schools, universities, and churches. I have progressed so far by believing in myself and by knowing that there is always a lesson in every trial. The key driver to my growth is perseverance. I believe there is no shortcut to success and one must be willing to pay a price. 

I am grateful to DR.KN Jacob of Sense 101 life club who trained me on strategic thinking as I was able to apply it in my businesses, much to my success. He is a US-based motivational speaker, life, and emotional intelligence coach who inspires members to improve all areas of their lives through powerful insight and actionable takeaways. 

In my next chapter, I want to serve in the political realm. In this year’s general elections, I am running as an independent candidate for the MCA position in Zimmerman, 

Having gone through so much in life and living most of my life in Zimmerman, I have a political interest in being the MCA as an independent party. I want to be the voice of the voiceless, create job opportunities, and work with the county government to sponsor needy children to school. I also intend to partner with the government to offer better drainage systems. I believe the future is bright and I look forward to doing my best as an MCA.


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