By Catherine Kuria
A change maker who is keen on bringing young people together through networking forums
There are a host of different reasons why people become entrepreneurs as opposed to the traditional route of becoming employees. Only you can decide the life that’s right for you, but with the uncertainty of entrepreneurship also comes tremendous freedom and accountability. Steve Jobs perhaps summed this idea up best when he said: “When you grow up you tend to get told that the world is the way it is. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.” One such person is Calvin Jodisi. He learned that his creativity simply was not cut out for the limitations of a corporate life.
Mr. Jodisi is the President and Chief Executive Officer, African Summit on Entrepreneurship and Innovation (ASENTI). He studied actuarial science at the Technical University of Kenya (TUK). He is also currently pursuing a bachelors degree in economics and statistics at Egerton University. Additionally, he has also done a few fellowships through some international programmes that build young future leaders. He has gone through the International Young Leaders Fellowship that took place in the United States in 2012 and 2013 for 6 months.
Moreover, he is also a change maker and terms himself as an entrepreneur since his main focus is on entrepreneurship and innovation. His goal had always been to study economics but he got short changed and studied actuarial science instead. Currently, his is focused on building an investment fund that will enable ASENTI to grow through investing in different forums. ASENTI is a consortium of young people from 4 countries. Mr. Jodisi and his colleagues had been attending numerous international forums in the United Kingdom and the United States. They sat down and figured that they ought to start a forum in Africa that will inspire and spark a conversation on entrepreneurship.
The organization is already established in 4 countries; South Africa, Ghana and Kenya. He serves as the representative of ASENTI in Kenya. Representatives in each country are tasked with the mandate of championing entrepreneurship in their countries. Every year, they host a forum that brings people together where they discuss issues that relating to entrepreneurship. He says: “It’s also a platform where people from different countries can network and be able to exchange ideas. The organizations focus is mainly on the African continent but we also get international support from entrepreneurs who are interested in investing in Africa.”
He plays the role of a visionary leader and tries to create a road map of where the organization is headed and shaping its agenda. He creates the vision of the organization with the help of the rest of the team from the 3 other African countries. A while back in 2012 he worked with African Alliance which is an investment bank. He gained a lot of experience in terms of spotting great investments opportunities bearing in mind that that is where his future plans lay.
Mr. Jodisi also runs a social enterprise known as Ecopoa based in Mathare. The enterprise started in 2015 and makes eco-friendly bags. He was inspired by the Paris Agreement that focuses on the climate change and calling upon world leaders to put a focus on climate change. “We are talking about environment which I hold dear. When you talk about the environment, most people think about planting trees or disposal but the context of environment is diverse,” he conveys.
After some deliberations, he decided to found an enterprise to create environmental friendly products. Since he is passionate about helping young people develop themselves, he decided to include a handful of them in the project. He has been able to bring together 20 youths from Mathare who he has employed to make the bags. He continues to say, “The slum set up is not a friendly one. This social enterprise helps them sustain themselves financially and also stay out of trouble. We have equipped them with the necessary skills they need in the business.” Through Ecopoa, Mr. Jodisi has also developed an online platform to help other people in the country sell their environmental friendly products as well.
He has always been passionate about seeing young people succeed especially in Africa. He partly grew up in a children’s home and the struggle that he and his peers went through shaped him as a person. He is deeply rooted on the ideals of giving back to the community and lending a helping hand to the less fortunate when he can.
Furthermore, he is always keen to try out new things irrespective of whether he might get burned in the end. He also blends vision with execution. This means that he can be able to blend his vision with the ability to get things done. In fact, Mr. Jodisi avoids spending too much time on developing business ideas. Most ideas are going to have to be heavily revised when you get out to market. Successful entrepreneurs are highly goal oriented, blending their big-picture strategy with a laser focus on execution and results.
He is a man who is in-tune with his passion. When talking about things that interests him, he passionately keeps the conversation flowing. It doesn’t matter if the subject is completely uninteresting to the other party, the conviction in his voice and the authentic enthusiasm he has for it is captivating. Passionate people know what it’s like to dive deep into a subject and completely understand it. “When you are genuinely passionate about the challenges that your company is trying to solve, you will be energized in trying to find a solution to curb the matter at hand,” he says.
The driving force in the industry
Agriculture is coming up in all aspects especially looking at smart agriculture. Most people have gone digital in terms of looking for information or accessing market for their products. A complete manual on how to succeed as a farmer can be easily searched online and numerous results will pop up within seconds. Financial Technology (FinTech) is all shaping entrepreneurship globally. He says that Africa is moving slowly migrating to becoming a cashless continent. Most people are doing their transactions via their mobile phones as opposed to when they would carry cash around.
Organizations have connected their systems to online payment platforms such as M-Pesa and Airtel Money as a way to keep up with the market trends. Investors are also gearing their money towards FinTech because they know that it’s pulling the masses. He expresses: “The current trend is that you have to develop a product that generates people’s data. Data is important because all businesses rely on it. Moreover, Investors use data to quantify whether they are going to risk placing their money under your care.”
A lot of focus has also been directed to words smart health. Accessibility to information on medicine has been made easier through the invention of health applications. Nowadays one does not have to go queue in a hospital because you can access your doctor via your phone. Mr. Jodisi ends by saying: “Entrepreneurship is not easy. If you want to succeed you need to exercise a lot of patience and be consistent. Don’t start one project today and leave it hanging to go start another one. Be patient and give yourself time to grow in the entrepreneurial space.”