After working as an auditor for nearly 20 years, Esther Muchemi left that career path behind to open a shop selling airtime, mobile phones, and SIM cards. Today after nearly 20 years of building her empire, Muchemi is CEO of the Samchi Group of Companies, a Kenyan conglomerate with its hand in a number of industries. Samchi Group began in telecommunications and has since branched out to include microfinance, hospitality, real estate, restaurants, and ICT. Muchemi has developed a reputation as a powerful businesswoman and her success is all the more remarkable for existing in such a male-dominated world.
Predicting the Future
A key to Muchemi’s success may be her keen eye and ability to predict the future. As How We Made it in Africa describes, there were only 10 million mobile phone subscribers in Africa in 2000. Muchemi predicted the massive growth that would soon occur and saw that telecom would quickly become a domain for not only the ultra-wealthy. Her abrupt career change was also about seeking more personally fulfilling work: “I could honestly see limitations in my [previous] profession because there was too much passion in me not being fulfilled by that environment,” Muchemi said.
Muchemi reached the pinnacle of business success despite many hurdles. Among the things she overcame were being underestimated in the male-dominated business world, fighting the corruption rampant in Kenya, and the death of her husband in 2007.
Her success hasn’t gone unnoticed. Muchemi was the recipient of the 2017 Global Inspirational Women Leadership Award, awarded by the Centre for Economic and Leadership Development. She also received the award at The 2017 South America–Africa–Middle East–Asia Women Summit, and she was inducted into Amazon’s 100 Global Women Leaders Hall of Fame.
An Inspiration to Others
Today, Muchemi is eager to give back and inspire others. She is proud to have been able to create so many jobs and give back to society. She offers encouragement and motivation, especially to other entrepreneurs, in her book Give Me My Mountain: From a Single Shop to an Empire. In the book’s introduction, she writes: “I wrote my story to stir your spirit to the unsettling point, after which you must go after your dream with the ferocity of a lion hunting its prey.”