Cera Muchiri and Blake Nichols: Empowering Sustainable Dreams

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Three years ago, Micromentor had the privilege of engaging in a profound conversation with Cera Muchiri, the founder of Ecodunia, a remarkable social enterprise committed to collaborating with local producers in crafting utilitarian, aesthetically pleasing, and eco-friendly products while concurrently offering dignified employment opportunities. Cera's initial dialogue with her mentor, Eric Nashbar, laid the cornerstone for Ecodunia's journey. Today, Micromentor is excited to revisit this inspiring journey and examine the transformative changes in Cera's business.

A Lifelong Mentorship

The mentorship of Cera and Eric bore the fruit of a meticulously devised and efficient business plan for Ecodunia—however, the blueprint needed to be translated into tangible actions. As Ecodunia continued its progressive development, Cera recognized the pivotal role of identifying and understanding their target customers to facilitate efficient business expansion.

With various mentors offering diverse expertise, Cera acknowledged the necessity of a mentor who could guide her in business marketing. It was through this realization that she crossed paths with her new mentor. Blake Nichols, the founder of CILD (Cooperative for International Language Development) in Vietnam, was a marketing Ph.D. student at the University of Hawaii, specializing in consumer behavior and marketing theory. With seven years of marketing management experience and a rich background advising startups in Utah and Oregon, combined with 2.5 years working in rural economic development in Kenya, Blake was the perfect mentor for Cera.

No One Understands Your Business Like You

Blake's initial guidance focused on elevating Ecodunia's brand awareness. Cera attempted to set up shop at a local market but encountered unforeseen challenges due to inclement weather. She recounts, "I paid for the market, I showed up. It rained. It just didn't work, and he told me that that's one market, let's do another one, let's do another one." Blake's unwavering support extended to advising Cera to create customer profiles to identify her ideal client.

Thanks to the consistent encouragement from Blake and Cera's unwavering determination, Ecodunia's products have found their way into the hearts of people in the vibrant city of Chicago. Nowadays, strolling through Chicago's streets might lead you to spot the Ecodunia brand adorning the hands of satisfied customers.

Blake's mentoring was not just about offering advice; he also provided ample validation. Instead of imposing immediate solutions, he encouraged Cera to articulate her thoughts and devise solutions, recognizing that no one could understand Ecodunia better than its passionate founder. Cera recalled, "There was a time when I didn't know how to calculate inventory. I got on a call every Wednesday with Blake. I told him my thoughts. He was really listening and then giving me the feedback of just what I just said." By empowering Cera to find solutions, Blake bolstered her self-belief and decision-making abilities for her business.

Significant Milestones

With the invaluable support of her two mentors and her unwavering determination, Cera's business has achieved significant milestones over the past three years.

One of her most exhilarating accomplishments has been the growth of her team. Transitioning from a one-woman show, Cera now leads a team of nine talented individuals who share her vision and support her on the path to success. This expansion not only contributes to economic stability for Kenyan workers but also offers them a chance for a better life.

Moreover, as Ecodunia's revenue continues to soar, on track to double last year's earnings, Cera and her team are preparing for the opening of their first flagship store in Chicago. This marks a pivotal moment in her business journey, symbolizing the dawn of sustained brand development.

What's truly remarkable is Cera's commitment to giving back. With the revenue generated by Ecodunia, she intends to donate a portion to an organization in Kenya dedicated to providing educational opportunities for Kenyan girls. This is a testament to her unwavering dedication to creating a positive impact on society.

Cera's collaboration with mentors Eric and Blake has not only fueled her business's growth and success but has also kindled a deep-rooted passion to effect positive change, both in her business endeavors and in the lives of those she touches through Ecodunia.

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