Herbusiness interview: Mettā Nairobi’s Esther Mwikali

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This time round we spoke to Esther Mwikali. She is the Head of Operations and Community at Mettā. She is the first woman to open up her personal life to us, you will even find a book recommendation this week.

1. Start by describing Mettā Nairobi for those Kenyans who have never heard about it.

Mettā is the home for entrepreneurs in East Africa – a pioneering platform designed for individuals and organizations who are passionate about entrepreneurship and innovation. We support founders and enable them to connect with leading ecosystem players both locally and internationally. The space consists of entrepreneurs, investors, small businesses and multinational corporations.

Mettā Nairobi assists local entrepreneurs to gain direct access to Asia’s and Africa’s thriving startup economies; connecting them with investors and new business leads that provide opportunities to scale into new markets.

Mettā Nairobi

Photo: Mettā Nairobi

We host regular events curated by members to drive thought leadership and encourage collaboration on topics around business and innovation to promote meaningful connections on a global scale. In particular, through ‘plugging in’ nascent innovation ecosystems in Africa to the global entrepreneurial grid. Mettā Nairobi is the ideal environment for entrepreneurs to engage in open dialogue and connect with some of the most influential members of Kenya’s startup and business communities.

Mettā, thus, is a focused convener and neutral venue for the different stakeholders in the ecosystem. We bring the players together to collaborate because we understand the realities on the ground and anchored enough to manage.

2. What does Mettā (Nest) stand to gain from helping tech startups with this platform?

Mettā is the community side of Nest, knowing the latter has a Venture Capital arm and an Innovation arm. Mettā builds capacity and awareness to Nest for both arms to invest and catalyse entrepreneurs and start-ups.

3. Mettā Nairobi is the second one after Hong Kong. What attracted you to Nairobi?

Mettā’s success in Hong Kong saw the launch of another space in Nairobi. We already had a presence in the African startup scene so Nairobi was naturally the best choice. We saw incredible potential in the entrepreneurs and wanted to connect and support them in this thriving community.

I was drawn to Mettā by the mission and vision it stands for, to support and connect individuals throughout their entrepreneurial journey. It is definitely a plus having an amazing team both here in Nairobi and in Hong Kong. And an energetic, explosive ecosystem which is an amazing plug-in

4. From what you have seen and heard, comment on the participation of Kenyan women in the tech startup scene.

We have seen a drastic growth of Women in the Tech scene in Kenya. We have seen women playing the roles of CTOs (Chief Technology Officer) and leading up innovation teams in large companies like Safaricom. We have definitely seen the rise of women in specific sectors by infusing tech such as Edtech, Healthtech and Fintech. We have many players in the industry who are catalysts of this growth such as UN Women and  Akirachix, in particular, who are really redefining the inequality piece by training more women and youth into this industry.

5. Does Mettā Nairobi have any (or plan any) initiatives to get even more Kenyan women involved in tech?

Definitely! Our doors are enormously open for Women in Tech. We run a series called “Women in Tech” with one of our members, Moringa school. This is a source of content and a platform to tell the stories of amazing women in this industry through workshops, forums and panels. We have hosted women who are techies in the banking industry, media, telecommunications industry, just to mention a few.

We have actively decided to take up a role in having women use Mettā as a platform. This, through having women participate in all our tech events. Particularly, curating most tech-panels having two women in the various industries present. We are definitely proud to have kept this going at Mettā.

6. Lastly, you have to tell us a little bit about yourself of course. Tell us about yourself.

I am a young enthusiast of tech and innovation working at Mettā as the Head of Operations and Community with a background of Economics and Finance. I am humbled everyday by the people I meet at Mettā. The people who walk through our doors always have a story to tell through their work, their product, the people they work with. It is definitely never a bore at Mettā, with the bubbling and exciting conversations that take place in this home of entrepreneurs.

→ Mettā Nairobi on Facebook

Previous to this, I have also had the opportunity to work with the leading creative and tech institute in Kenya (Africa Digital Media Institute). So tech isn’t new to me, I literally grew up with a sister who has come to be a techie genius. I’m very blessed to have grown up in an environment where I could test most of the new tech that entered our country while growing up and till date.

I have a very adventurous life. I enjoy exploring and testing out new experiences and opportunities from zip-lining to white water rafting, hoping to tick sky-diving of my list soon. I enjoy a good read in the evenings and over the weekends. Current indulgement – “What they don’t teach you at Harvard Business School” by Mark H. McCormack.

Continue reading: How these 10 Kenyan women raised funds to start their business

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1 Comment

  1. Margaret Kithei on

    Very informative. Keep it up Esther Mwikali and METTA!! Open up more to our young entrepreneurs in other counties in Kenya to create more opportunities.