JUNE 5, 2015
Last year’s Venture Bus East Africa participant Betti Ngugi has shared her thoughts on the experience on her blog. On the Venture Bus she co-founded Jambocar which is supposed to launch later this year. She was so kind to allow us to share her post, it is a great read!
“Last year, a time like this, I came across a post on Facebook by Peter Ibaare on the Equity Bank Pre-University Mentorship And Alumni Group Page about a program called Ampion. Checking the Ampion Website, I couldn’t be more convinced that that was where I belonged. Coming from the most aggressive communities in Kenya, in fact I think my clan was dipped in a well full of aggressiveness and served with a tin of it to be applying every day, but I digress, you can guess my next move. I applied.
Several interviews later, I earned my spot on the Ampion East African Bus 2014. The event was scheduled just a few weeks from my final undergrad exams, but I was going to go anyway. May be you didn’t understand the seriousness that comes with final exams, allow me to explain. These are your final exams as an undergraduate in the university. For my course, it also meant that I had a project to design, implement and present before the dons could let me free. Those from JKUAT, know too well that the lecturers have high affinity for scheduling CATs and Assignments dates close to end of semester. So this meant missing, classes, CATs and Assignments to go follow my passion, entrepreneurship. But who cares, Y.O.L.O. Everyone was quite supportive, shout out to Equity African Leaders Program for funding me, my parents and JKUAT Computing Chairman for allowing me to do this.
14th November 2014, and I boarded my flight, destination: Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, beautiful city I must say, wonderful people too. Dinner party at the beach, Bajuni rides in the city, wonderful experience, I mean we had only that day to enjoy, intense work was to start the next day. Ideas started flying and I found myself next to a wonderful lady, Paula, we shared a vision.
Paula had joined the bus as a mentor, but she ended up being my permanent team mate and my forever friend. At just 24, she had founded a company, employed people and now she was just touring the world looking for ideas to put her money into. Who lives her dream at 24? (You can whisper to yourself, “I’m almost there”J) It took time for me to understand why someone would remain so humble despite having achieved so much. Paula the kind of person who will take a meal with you at Karumaindo and still fit in at Grand Regency the next day. She is jovial, intelligent, reliable, open and very friendly. When I met her, I knew if I don’t get anything else from Ampion, I had found a friend for a lifetime. Did I mention she is a model? Yes, that should tell you she is super beautiful, perfect definition of beauty with brains
She came up with the Jambocar idea and I was in love with it. Together we put up a team with Felix being the lead Tech Head. Felix talks in binary (1 & 0). He uses applications only through him I heard them for the first time, I mean being a software developer in Germany, one of the most advance countries technologically isn’t a mean feat. But don’t look for him, he is part of Jambocar for good, he isn’t taking any more applications, J Thank you, You are welcome.
We travelled to Kenya with the Ampion bus, refining our ideas and making mock presentations along the way, and that’s when I realized Tanzania is quite vast. You need two days to travel from Dar to the Namanga boarder, but we spent the night at this lovely hotel that has red rose petals sprinkled on our beds making a love heart (I think it’s meant for honeymooners). Fortunately, our bus failed to get us from Nairobi and we had to take a flight to Rwanda, our pitch day was fast approaching. When I tell you Ampion is serious business, please believe me.
The pitch was held in Kigali Rwanda and my team had prepared thoroughly. We even had a Jambocar song, we were determined to win this. The panel comprised of key officials from Rwanda including the ICT minister who promised to buy shares in the winning idea. Long story short, Jambocar won, and the media was on us that night asking questions like, “How did you make it?” (Where do they get these questions really?). Had I known, maybe I would have dressed better, no regrets though.
Ampion for me was an eye opener, to the numerous opportunities in Africa and the many problems that we can solve as entrepreneurs. It was an opportunity to build lasting relationships and to shape my future and that of my country, I mean I was named a CEO at 23, #NoChills. Jambocar will be rolling out later this year, and there is no better feeling than knowing you changed the way people live and work with your idea. The sharing of ideas with people from different parts of the world is just amazing, I can’t event put words to it. You have to be there to experience it.
The good news is, Ampion has opened applications for this year. And this being its third year doing this in Africa, it will be bigger and better. Head to the website and Apply, and thank me later”