After learning the ropes of marketing in the tough corporate world, ambitious lady establishes an advertising agency that is giving established players a run for their money
By George Gichuki
The demanding tasks various individuals take while growing their careers, form very strong building blocks in their endeavour to succeed as entrepreneurs. Koki Muia can attest to that. The managing director and founder of Shaya Advertising, Koki held senior management positions in various international organizations specializing in the sales and distribution of electronic products and mobile phone handsets. A seasoned marketer, her job involved extensive travelling to various countries within Africa to pitch for sales and increase market coverage.
As a common practice, she had to meet high targets that were set for her team. To say the least, the job was very demanding but as the popular adage goes, every cloud has a silver lining. Its rigours have made her an entrepreneur of stunner stuff.
After quitting her corporate job, Koki started off by establishing a graphic design and print house in Westlands, Nairobi namely Rainbow Adpoint Limited. The firm has run for the last five years and it has a strong corporate clientele base including: Tuskys Supermarkets, Capwell Industries, Keyara Organics and Superfoam Limited among others.
But it is Shaya Advertising (established in 2017) that is close to her heart. “We established Shaya in order to support our clients in the design and printing line with their advertising and public relations needs,” says Koki. “Most of them would source for advertising services from other firms and in the process, we were losing revenue,” she adds. According to Koki, Shaya is a cultural name which means ‘crisp fresh,’ hence the company’s slogan, fresh brands.
A step of faith
Advertising and public relations is big business. Indeed, Bill Gates (the billionaire who founded Microsoft) once pointed out: “If I was down to the last dollar of my marketing budget, I would spend it on public relations.” Nevertheless, much as it is lucrative, locally, the business is dominated by a few firms whose leaders are mostly men.
By venturing in a field characterized by cutthroat competition, Koki must therefore have taken a major step of faith. But she has no regrets.
Within a relatively short period of time that it has been in the market, Shaya Advertising has brought on board many clients who are mainly in the small and medium enterprises ( SMEs) market segment. “We target SMEs and mid level corporates because the big advertising agencies often shun them,” emphasizes Koki.
Together with her team, Koki first of all understands the needs of respective clients, before advising them on how they should plan their advertising campaigns. The firm specializes in formulating advertising concepts, design visuals, icons as well as logos that help its customers in their marketing campaigns. The end products of this creativity can be seen in billboards, vehicle wrapping and banners.
Koki is very glad that so far, her initial client base has given Shaya Advertising a platform to prosper.
In addition, she has relied on the strong network she built while she was in the corporate world to penetrate the highly competitive advertising industry.
Above all, she has assembled a team of highly motivated, loyal, experienced and efficient employees in providing quality service and products to her clients.
Take on women in business
According to Koki, business is a tough balancing act for women. “As a woman, one is torn between balancing on the needs of her family, the enterprise and personal commitments,” she says.
“One has to juggle many pressing needs and commitments and the only way to succeed is by prioritizing them,” she affirms.
Moreover, as the business leader, one should have very good communication skills. “One of the key roles of a leader is to clearly articulate the vision of the business to the members of his or her team, besides setting targets for them,” Koki says. “To that end, excellent communication skills come in handy,” she adds.
She further emphasizes that after setting up the team, the leader’s next critical role should be ensuring that its members are able to deliver the goals of the business.
Advice to young women aspiring to be entrepreneurs
Koki’s advice to young women aspiring to be entrepreneurs is simple. They should get started at an early age. “Young girls who are still in schools and colleges should be encouraged to get the right skills and dream big about succeeding in business,” she avers.
“They can set up the business in a small way but grow it into a giant with time, by embracing big dreams and ideas,” she adds.
Within the next five to six years, Koki is confident that Shaya Advertising will be a formidable agency.
Her strategy of growing the business is working closely with various county government s, before having a regional presence.
“Whereas formal employment helps one to be skillful and more exposed, ultimately, business is the in-thing because it is more rewarding and fulfilling,” ends the entrepreneur.