Thursday, February 13, 2014

Entrepreneurship: Your Vision Drives Your Success

There is a growing ecosystem of entrepreneurs in Kenya who have been motivated to build a company through a search for change based on a clear vision and contagious passion.

It is the vision of Duma Works that in a society with such high unemployment rates, no job opportunity should be lost. It is this vision that has led us to create a job matching platform to help match people more quickly, a screening system to make sure people are matched more accurately, and a mobile platform to make sure Duma Works is accessible to everyone.

Duma Works participated in an event with Ashoka Innovators for the Public last week that drew social entrepreneurs from across the globe. Walking around the rooftop of Pawa254 you could overhear pieces of conversations that ranged from how to increase the number of disabled people in the workforce, to sustainable bee keeping.

The one common thread throughout each conversation was the vision. Vision is the guiding force behind all decisions an entrepreneur makes. At Duma Works, we prefer to call social entrepreneurship “vision-driven entrepreneurship,” because it is the clear vision that determines the outcome of the venture. Passion and vision combine to yield a focused, driven entrepreneur.

Every entrepreneur in Kenya (and everywhere) should make sure to find and clarify their passion before they start their venture. So many entrepreneurs know they want to do something, but they don’t know what. This leads to a startup, or a social enterprise, without a clear vision.

If you haven’t yet figured out your vision to make change in society, take some more time to think about it before starting your venture. If you don’t have a clear idea of your goals, how are you going to convey them to your team, stakeholders, or anyone at all?

Some other great tips on how to be a successful entrepreneur include:

1- Dreaming big, but starting simple – The most important thing to building a venture is creating a solid foundation. Keep this foundation in line with your vision, and don’t get distracted by building too many new “features,” especially at the beginning.

2- Don’t get distracted by promises of profits – No one knows your vision better than you. Don’t let a client paying big money change your focus in a way that is impossible or too costly for you to realign with your vision.

3- Don’t be afraid of change (as long as it is in line with your vision!) – At the beginning, your venture will experience many changes, especially with your business model. Understand those changes are you getting closer to what people really need, and make adjustments accordingly, keeping your overall vision in mind. A way of understanding this point – I want to eat a candy bar – that is my vision. But there are many different ways for me to actually eat it.

Stay focused and good luck!

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  Wednesday, February 12, 2014



The Duma Works platform offers some great tools to help job seekers use their professional and personal networks to connect to job opportunities.

Here is a checklist of things to make sure you complete on your Duma Works profile to maximize your network of job opportunities

1-    Add your past employers/mentors to your Duma Works network

Before you do this, it is important to first call your past employers/mentors to explain what Duma Works is and how it works. Anyone you add on your Duma Works referral network will receive a confirmation SMS, and will want to know that Duma Works is real. We find it is easiest to convince people to sign up if we explain how Duma Works is a social job network to help job seekers stand out and help match employers to the best candidates. We also tell people that Duma Works has been recognized by Google, Rockefeller, Intel, and the Equity Foundation as an empowerment tool for youth, and matched over 3,500 job seekers with job opportunities in 2013.

2-    Invite your past employers/mentors/colleagues to give you a recommendation on Duma Works

This recommendation will give your profile more credibility and increase your ranking in the job matching software so you will be matched to more job opportunities. It is important to make sure you only request recommendations from people who you have worked with in the past, as fake or uninformative recommendations can negatively affect your job eligibility.

3-    Add your colleagues/friends/family members to your Duma Works network

Duma Works functions like word of mouth. When an employer has a job, he/she asks friends, family, and colleagues who they would recommend. Then, those people recommend others. It looks something like this [graphic]. If you add people you can trust to your network, you will be more likely to be socially connected to a job opportunity, and have a higher chance of being notified.

Like with employer/mentors, you should probably tell your friends and colleagues what Duma Works is before you add them.

4-    Refer your friends/family to jobs!

Duma Works provides a really cool opportunity for you to help the people around you connect to jobs. If you ever receive an SMS or email from Duma Works asking you if you know anyone to refer to a certain job, take that opportunity! Not only are you helping those around you, but you also earn points through successful referrals.

You can build your referral network by creating a profile here on Duma Works, and then visiting the contacts page. You can also add a person by sending an SMS to +254 701 060 302 with the word ADD + THEIR NAME + THEIR PHONE NUMBER

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  Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Your social network matters!


According to a study conducted by Jobvite94% of recruiters now use social media in their effort to recruit fresh candidates.

Not only that, Jobvite also announced that over 78% of recruiters have made a successful hire over social media, and 42% have reevaluated decisions about candidates based on their social network profiles.

As a jobseeker, this would make me think long and hard about the content, images, and profile details I publish on my social media pages.

If you were a recruiter, what would you look most positively upon?

Post about…

–       Volunteering?

–       Political opinions?

–       Current events?

On the other hand, what would you look most negatively upon?

Posts about…

–       Alcohol consumption?

–       Drug use?

–       References to violence?

–       Sexual experiences?

 Think about what an employer is looking for in a staff member.


–       Responsible

–       Healthy

–       Moral

–       Intelligent

–       Conscientious 

Recruiters will look at your Duma Works or LinkedIn profile to assess your technical skills, work experience, and duration at a job. They will also look at your Twitter and Facebook to assess your company fit.

What does your social media say about yourself?

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  Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Data at Duma Works Can Grow You (& Your Company!)

Screen Shot 2014-02-06 at 11.35.29 AM

Duma Works is straying from the simple job board format to deliver more effective results to employers and job seekers alike.

The “IBM Global Entrepreneurship Day,” kick started a discussion on entrepreneurship and how to grow a company. One of the key points that IBM brought to the talks was a focus on the importance of data to growing companies effectively.

Understanding, processing, and helping other people understand data regarding the job market is hugely important if Kenya wants to create jobs, and create happier, more efficient SMEs and workers.  Two of the biggest job-related issues in Kenya today are ghost workers and mismatched workers. Duma Works helps solve these issues by conducting research on the Kenya job market and integrating the results into its job matching technology. By leveraging real time data, Duma Works provides companies with an effective means to match job opening to job seeker and a dynamic platform to track employee performance post-hire.

If technology can be leveraged to give access about a job opening to only relevant candidates, how much time and money would employers save in the interview process? If data can be leveraged to help job seekers understand what qualities are required for jobs in certain sectors, how much more could they improve upon themselves?

It turns out that over 80% of data in the world is unstructured, left misunderstood in scattered Excel files on a computer. Let’s not add to that pile of data. Let’s try to better understand it and teach it in order to drive growth in companies and development in the people behind the companies.

Read more:

To learn more about Duma Works and our services –

To see how data-driven Google is, and how this can reveal things about our society –

To watch a neat video on IBM’s Watson robot using data to dominate on Jeopardy gameshow –

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  Monday, November 18, 2013

“DEFINE What You Want and FOCUS on It” – Interview with Anna Akinyi

Anna Blog

We met with Anna Akinyi, founder of Top Down Concepts in Nairobi, and here’s what she had to say to the youth of Kenya…

Tell me a bit about yourself…

Professionally, I am a trained Pharmacy professional. I graduated in 1992, but immediately after that, I worked in a hospital pharmacy for 2 years, administering medication. Then I switched to sales and marketing for multinationals.


Curiosity – I just got bored working in a hospital and though sales and marketing would be super glamorous. I saw people who I was in class with working for these big multinationals and thought hmm…I’d like to do that.

I then worked with 1 firm from Belgium that was bringing a new pharmaceutical product to market. That job gave me the opportunity to discover Kenya – places I would never been to before. And I went by matatu!

That must have been bumpy…

But it was exciting because I was young, energetic, going to explore.

The rest of my career in pharmaceutical sales was with Astrazeneca, and I was able to travel all over – Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania. I finally was able to move up the ranks to become a trainer of sales representatives. That’s when I decided to marry my professional career with my passion to get TopDown– an organization that would dedicate itself to developing and growing SMEs.

At TopDown, we give sales and marketing support focusing in the pharmaceutical industry. I’ve worked with hotels on how to train their sales staff and how to increase their visibility. There are modules to improve soft skills and sales skills of staff, how to get people to be more inclined to use their product. Based on my experience dealing with pharmaceutical sales, I found fast moving consumer goods sales very easy because healthcare providers are the toughest to sell to!

So tell me a little more about TopDown

Well, we are a service that tailors our programs to client needs. We don’t give them what we have but what they need to realize their organizational goals through their sales force and the marketing. We make companies more visible in their competitive environment. We also follow through and have implementation modules.

What types of clients do you work with?

We mostly work with clients in the pharmaceutical industry. I have a few proposals in the pipeline with some international companies trying to enter the Kenyan market  who want to connect with doctors, sales people, other organizations.

Also I am currently working with the Mvuli Hotel in Nairobi to help them gain more visibility in the market.

What do you think the most popular myth regarding sales is?

Myth: You have to talk about the features of what you offer without translating it to the needs of your client. People talk a lot about features about the goods or services they have but don’t translate it to benefits.

Truth: You need to translate the features into benefits. Our training develops people to translate those features into benefits – and that’s a full day exercise.

Do you have a favorite success story from your work?

I’m working with a client right now who wants to grow his business from 600,000ksh/annum to 1billion/annum. I am going to part of that journey and that is exciting. He’s taking me on because I am going to help him get there. We want it to happen by the end of 2014. If you think it is so, you can.

What is your personal brand?

I see myself as having a passion for excellence and realizing the highest standards. People should not put them down because they are small. Being small does not mean you cannot be excellent. So my personal brand is achieving excellence – be good at what you do no matter how small you are.

Is there one person in your life who has inspired/pushed you to get here?

Many people inspire me many companies inspire me – I think Polycarp Igathe is brilliant.

If you could give 1 piece of advice to our job seekers…

Define what you want and focus on it. If what you want to do is defined clearly in your mind, focus on it and figure out what it is that you need to do to get there. Do not be swayed by environment or circumstance. I did that for myself, which was a bit deviant– not many people going into sales and marketing at the time. I sent out over 100 application and got regrets and regrets. However, I was determined that I was going to do it. Moreover, I knew when I got it, I was going to do it well. It was not about the pay I was getting. When you are passionate about something you are remembered – by the people you touched, and by the people you have talked to. I have many friends who are doctors that I met over 20 years ago who still remember me and prescribe to Astrazeneca because of me.

Most of all – enjoy what you do, and do it because you enjoy it.

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  Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Jobseekers of Nairobi…



Q. What advice can you give to a young person out there who is hustling to make it in life?

A. First of all no one should call themselves a hustler because they have the potential to get out there and do all they can to make it in life. The simpler it is the better and if you work on it well and love what you are doing within a period of time you are going to grow in it.

Q. What was the worst job you have ever taken?

A. Personally, I have never been employed. I have always been trying out new things like singing and acting and am still doing and earning from it.


Q. What advice can you give to a young person out there who is hustling to make it in life?

A. I would tell them to take advantage of the youth fund and other government initiatives for the youth to start their own businesses.

Q. If you won 1 million shillings what would you do with it?

A. I would have fun and go on a holiday!

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  Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Job Networking Evolution

Society evolves with technology over time.

In the early stages of a society, every business is a family business. Society is so unstable and chaotic that the only way to ensure your assets is to trust the people who are closest to you…and who you know where to find if anything goes wrong.

As cities become more gentrified and the family unit breaks down, companies grow outside of families and immediate social connections. People now no longer have that close knit family to rely on and being adopting those who used to be strangers into their “family” business. Governments and society even begin targeting companies that only hire within their family as discriminatory.

The reason for this being that as hiring became more complex with the rise of more complex markets, family members often lacked the skills necessary for the job. Family members then became illogical hires, while candidates more qualified existed outside the familial unit.

Tech comes in here at a very interesting place. 

Companies like DUMA, LinkedIn, and Branchout are jumping upon this opportunity to use social networks for the good. New technology and sophisticated databases are able to provide job linkages through social/professional/referral networks, while also ensuring that the person is a good match. These technologies are making it easier and faster for HR staff to find appropriate job matches. 

This ability to leverage social network and skills profile is going to become a key value in emerging markets, as trust is a huge component in hiring. These new technologies even turn reliance upon social connections into a social good. They do this by giving people an opportunity to expand beyond their immediate social connections and grow their professional network to connect with more work.

Test out the new age of hiring – visit us at or reach out to us at +254 701 060 302.

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  Friday, October 4, 2013

Job Boards Are Dinosaurs (The Employer Edition)


The subject line says it all.  Job boards are dinosaurs. They eat everything – time, money, nerves…and they deserve to be extinct.

Why would posting up an opening to the general public of everyone everywhere be the default successful, easy search option? It’s like searching for anything on Google without search engine optimization. You type in “baby panda” and your first hit is an article from a fantasy children’s book from the 1700s about “baby” Jesus that also happens to mention a “panda.”

Why do employers think it’s a good idea?

1-    It appears to be cheap

2-    It appears to be easy

3-    It appears to be effective – you get so many CVs, you must be able to find someone amidst the rabble!

Why we think it’s a bad idea?

1-    It’s not actually cheap – the time you spend sifting through the CVs is a waste of time.

Time = money. Waste of time = Waste of money

2-    It’s not actually easy – once you’ve successfully posted your job there is this endless void you sit in while waiting for that miracle job seeker to appear. I don’t know about you but I hate waiting.

Waiting = Stressful. Stressful = Not Easy.

3-    It’s not actually effective –

(Scenario 1) Once you think you have the best job seeker, you finally ask to meet them in person and because the job board is delayed, the candidate doesn’t show for the interview because they have already gotten a position somewhere else.

(Scenario 2) You get so many CVs, you don’t want to deal with looking through them at all, ask your sister for a recommendation of a friend/colleague of hers, and then hire them. Then you find out this person isn’t actually the best, then you have to fire and rehire all over again.

We have a lot of new tech running around in this small world these days. Tech is fixing so many things that usually happen slowly – you can send money via M-PESA instead of going upcountry to deliver the money in person. You can use Uber to find a trustworthy cab in your area. You can advertise your business to a targeted audience through Facebook. You get news and crime alerts via Twitter. These technologies are simple platforms to help you do things better. People start using them once they realize everyone else is doing it already.

So get ahead of your competition. Be a leader. Try out our method to make job boards a thing of the past. It’s free to sign up here and we promise we won’t try to eat you.

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