BFP: What do you do?
MM: I am the Regional Chapter Coordinator- East Africa Chapter, Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE), a program of the Aspen Institute. I coordinate the activities of the ANDE East Africa Chapter. ANDE is a network of organisations that support small and growing businesses (SGBs) within emerging markets. I support members who are working in East Africa by running programs that are geared toward creating synergy and strengthening the eco-system to support entrepreneurial growth in East Africa.
BFP: What is the best part about your job?
MM: ANDE members are very passionate about supporting small and growing businesses in the region, and the impact that has on the economy. The best part of my job is talking to members and learning about what they are doing in the sector and finding ways to support them. One of the main ways I am able to support these organisations is by making connections between them and facilitating collaboration.
BFP: What have been your greatest challenges?
MM: One of my greatest challenges has been identifying all the players in the eco-system and bringing them together. There are many organisations and resources in the region available to entrepreneurs. However the sector is disjointed with lots of replication of efforts. My goal is to create synergy in the sector to ensure that entrepreneurs in the region are able to make use of the numerous resources that are available to them.
BFP: How have you overcome these challenges?/ What is the secret of your success?
MM: The ANDE East Africa Chapter is launching a mapping study of the eco-system in East Africa. With this tool, we hope to begin to address this challenge.
The secret to my success? There is no secret. I took time to really get to know myself, to get to know what makes me tick. I found the thing that gets me excited in the morning then I worked at it. My second piece of advice is, never stop learning.
BFP: If someone wants to do what you do, where should they start?
MM: I don’t think I can give you a formula. I just followed my passion.
BFP: Finally; what do you hope to get out of being part of the BFP community?
MM: This is a community of people who believe that enterprise can raise communities out of poverty. I hope to build alliances and find partners I can work with to strengthen the entrepreneurial eco system in East Africa.
Thank you to Mary Mwangi for taking the time to do this interview.
Read previous Member of the Week interviews here.