And now creates a social impact in Kenya
Carol Wanjiku and her business partner Shirish Shah are driving at creating a legacy.
By Ben Oduor
The vehicle in which they are driving is Daproim Africa Limited and the engine is a team of young Kenyans who would not have been able to achieve their dream were it not for this vehicle.
Interestingly, the journey of moulding the company into its current status started 10 years ago from a simple campus idea. Steve Kamanja, then a student at the United States International University (USIU) pursuing his professional dream through a research paper on business outsourcing, read huge books aiming at excelling in his studies.
However, living up to Charles F. Kettering’s phrase, “Keep on going, and the chances are that you will stumble on something, perhaps when you are least expecting it. I never heard of anyone ever stumbling on something sitting down,” he thought: “Why not turn this massive academic task into a successful business?’
Armed with his computer, passion and skills, he started sourcing for clients at his sister’s office in 2006, gradually growing the business’ clientele — with its first huge break being an Indian firm that financed its initial services.
The startup then had envisioned an organisation that would tap many clients and create employment for youths. It is for this reason, Carol explains, that in 2012 her husband Steve partnered with Shirish Shah, the managing director and founder of Greenspan Housing — a real estate firm that builds a range of housing comprising of maisonettes and apartments, to realise this dream.
Unfortunately, Steve passed on in 2014, but Carol and Shah have laboured to grow the firm, which now employs numerous youths ad provides solutions to both local and international firms.
The company offers a variety of services which include; audio and visual transcription and online subtitling, customer support such as virtual assistance, online customer support and telephone support, IT services, data entry, scanning and indexing, form and indexing processing, account receivables and content services such as data mining, web content creation and competitor analysis and content tagging.
Daproim, an acronym for Data Processing and Information Management, has recorded significant milestones since inception through its partnership with international organisations such as the Rockefeller Foundation that addresses issues of poverty and economic instability in Africa, and Techno Serve that educates youth and women on poverty eradication and unemployment.
“Daproim employs 200 staff, mostly young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. We continue to build work skills for the graduates we employ and provide a source of livelihood for them and their families. Through empowerment and our mentorship initiatives, some have gone on to further their studies, which gives us great pride in our work,” Carol says.
“The firm has also supported other entrepreneurs in setting up business outsourcing (BPO) centres. Most recently, I was involved in mentoring an entrepreneur who successfully got a grant to begin her own BPO in Yaounde,” she says.
Digital Campus Connect
To support its programmes, the organisation received a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to roll out Digital Campus Connect, a programme that hires skilled but needy university students and engages them virtually through a website application “Nikkoworkx” (I’m at work) by feeding them work at their various locations and delivers quality output back to the office for checking before sending it to the client.
“So far the programme has engaged over 200 university students and created over 500 jobs,” says Carol, adding that the organisation has over 3,000 direct beneficiaries over the years.
For instance, Erick Okoth, the third born in a family of five and one of the firm’s beneficiaries, narrates how he lost his father when he was six and his mother when he was in class seven, resulting in him and his siblings travelling to Nairobi to live with a brother in a single room in Mukuru Kwa Njenga, a slum near Embakasi Estate.
Despite the challenges in the slum, he excelled in his primary and secondary examinations and proceeded to Kenyatta University to study for a degree in management science.
He says his recruitment by Daproim improved his skills and paid his university fees. “Daproim has given me financial freedom. I’m able to pay my school fees partly and cater for my sister’s shopping. My computer skills have also improved.”
According to Al Jazeera, almost 10 million youths between 18 and 35 have no jobs in Kenya, a situation Carol envisions to change.
“I’m looking at a future where Daproim will serve the African continent while impacting the lives of young people. My dream is to grow an organisation that creates employment for over 20,000 young people in the next 10 years.”
Carol, who has Masters degrees in Strategic Management and Entrepreneurial Leadership, says penetrating the market and technical issues are key challenges to the organisation, but they are being tackled through consistently investing on technology and expertise.