Think of making KES50 million while you’re 27 years old. That’s how much Joe Mwale made when he sold his first business project.
Mwale is one of a new generation of young entrepreneurs who, rather than complaining about Kenya’s unemployment issue, have gone above and beyond to generate jobs.
Tribulation Gave Birth to an Idea
When the active young person was hospitalized with diarrhoea after drinking polluted water, he had a breakthrough.
As he lay in bed, he considered how he might offer access to clean water to his community, setting him on the path to becoming one of Africa’s most promising young entrepreneurs.
Mwale used KES8,000 in cash, physics expertise from Friends School Kamusinga, and volunteer help to drill a well on communal farmland.
To extract the water, he built a pump, which gave clean drinking water to hundreds of households in his village.
After the project was completed, it provided clean water to around 500 families.
His family was unable to afford his tuition, therefore he was forced to withdraw from Friends School. This, however, did not damper his spirits.
He set out to pay his tuition and supplement his income to help support his family.
Since Mwale was caught in a disaster which coincidentally gave birth to the concept for SkyDrop.
He established Skydrop in a couple of months, a firm that would specialize in gathering rainwater in a network of massive tanks before purifying and bottling it for commercial sale.
He skilfully developed the idea into a flourishing enterprise by bottling the water for sale across western Kenya and into Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, and South Sudan, in addition to supplying clean water to his hamlet.
He’d also just received a Google award for being one of the world’s Top 10 Brightest Young Minds. He spent a lot of time in Silicon Valley, California, as part of the prize. He met people like Larry Page, the co-founder and CEO of Internet search engine behemoth Google, and Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the man who invented the World Wide Web.
Building on the success of SkyDrop, he was chosen as a finalist for the Anzisha Prize, winning KES3 million and admittance to South Africa’s African Leadership Academy.
He sold a group of Israeli investors his 60 per cent stake in SkyDrop for around KES50 million. SkyDrop had 74 workers and yearly revenues of KES51.5 million at the time.
He’s now on a mission to create an African version of Google, Apple, or Facebook. He launched Gigavia.com with other partners, a firm he believes will likely offer solutions for how institutions disseminate educational materials as well as a platform for seasoned entrepreneurs to coach young people.
Kenya, South Africa, and Silicon Valley are among the company’s locations. It now employs a large number of programmers and administrative personnel.