Resilience in the face of adversity turns life’s challenges into opportunities. This is the motto that Kenya-based George Gichuhi Kamau has chosen to live by.
Eight years ago, George found himself in a difficult position with a wife and three kids to look after at a relatively young age. His work selling insurance was barely getting them by and he wasn’t able to finish his college education due to financial constraints. “The lack of opportunities for young people is a global problem that becomes worse for those in third-world countries”, he says.
Eventually, George’s wife encouraged him to monetize his biggest strength - always finding a way to help others. “She told me, ‘more people reach out to you for help rather than to buy insurance so why can’t you make a living out of helping people?’” George recalls. It was in this moment that George realized he had a higher purpose to serve.
George started modestly by running small errands for a fee, but eventually he needed to bring on others to meet the local demand. Eventually, he decided to take his services online and thus Errands Guy was born.
George didn’t stop there. He believed that he had a lot more to contribute to the gig economy. With more people trusting him with larger jobs, George felt that it was time to start his own logistics business. Today, Mzigo Logistics sells its services on a subscription basis, giving brands the technology to manage their own business logistics. “I wanted to add value to small and medium-sized businesses. These businesses are the largest source of employment for young people in Kenya. I noticed how they were struggling with logistics, and helping these businesses indirectly helps young people like me.”
At the time of joining the MicroMentor platform, George’s ideas were still raw and undefined. He needed help with building a structured brand since most of his experiences have been with freelancing. He reached out to several mentors on the platform who have been instrumental in helping George build his businesses from the ground up. With the help of mentors such as Valeria Alarcon, Vernon Viera, Jennifer Patterson, and Nitin Mani, George was able to develop a financial model, understand gaps in the market, build a team, and begin selling the product to potential clients.
The COVID-19 pandemic significantly changed George’s perspective on the role his business should play in the wider community. “It was a time of reinvention and questioning the way forward. From the logistics angle, there is so much opportunity to make an impact.” He began his social impact work by facilitating the distribution of COVID relief materials to vulnerable communities. Soon after, he began working with Wote Kwa Wote, a community-based organization for people with disabilities.
His work with the organization highlighted the struggles faced by disabled youth and George felt the need to do something about it. He recognized an opportunity for disabled people to get involved in the gig economy and started pwdgigs.com, an online platform that helps people with disabilities sell their skills in the gig economy marketplace.
When asked what makes a mentorship relationship successful, George was quick to reply “I measure the success of my mentoring relationships by asking a simple question—from the point I began engaging the mentors, has there been any change? I am able to measure the value of a mentor using this simple metric.”
George hopes to continue his relationship with his mentors long-term with the hope of having them play an advisory role far beyond the infant stages of his ventures. “Mentorship has given me a renewed impetus to work harder knowing that there is someone committing their time and resources in ensuring that my business grows into a successful venture,” adds George, who hopes to pass it forward by mentoring others in his community.