With his signature round fedora hats, Wilkings Fadhili has always stood out! The award winning entrepreneur, recipient of Business Daily 2015 “Top 40 under 40 Men Entrepreneur” in Kenya, and nominee of 2017 “Top 30 Under 30” Forbes Africa Awards, Wilkins is passionate about connecting entrepreneurs, creating opportunities for different entrepreneurs and through his brand StartUpNow Lab Kenya, helps entrepreneurs to grow their brands to viability through mentorship, training and funding.
On set #ForbesAfrica30under30NomineeFeature So CNN Business journalists landed, sittted here Watching them set up to do a feature of my entrepreneurial journey just hit me that actually been nominated for Forbes Africa Top 30 under 30 , then remembered one day when I was starting up i was desperate to be featured in different media platforms, one day a friend whose well entrepreneur around and media is always on her told me ' … you see Wilkings all you gotta do is focus and show the world that you know what you doing and be consistent, but most important aspire to be a blessing to people media will look out for you. …'. Same to you entrepreneur reading this, you have the power within you to be the best, to be successful and get celebrated, stay focused but don't be comfortable with the state of your company, keep thinking and find ways to stand out and be unique. #Entrepreneur #entrepreneurship
With a rising tide of entrepreneurship sweeping across not just Kenya but Africa in general, and the youngsters riding it vigorously, we caught up with Fadhili before his CNN interview feature as he sets his own destinies, ambitions and gets ready to speak at the TEDx Conference in Kampala later on this year.
1. WGN: First, congratulations on the Forbes Africa nomination. Just tell us how you received the news. Where were you? What were you doing?
Thank you so much, well as usual was preparing to leave office for home and suddenly this strange call comes through, it was a lady with really authoritative voice, she asked a few questions to confirm that it’s me, then she broke the news to me ‘ We have seen what you doing with StartUpNow, empowering entrepreneurs and we are happy to nominate you as Forbes to 30 under 30 African entrepreneur……” . I’ve never been so proud of myself and the team behind me like that day. You know the feeling you get that someone somewhere actually recognises what you are doing.
2. WGN: Tell us about your background.
Born from a really humble family from Kakamega, came to Nairobi for my higher education studies, studied Mass Communication and PR from Daystar University, but since my High school days I was very passionate media, people, inspiration and growth.
3. WGN: How did you become so passionate about entrepreneurs and startups, despite studying communication in university?
All this started back then when I was in Daystar, I used to sell fruit Juice in Daystar and Kenyatta University, after school started East and Central Africa’s first ever Fashion and Creative business incubator which we rebranded to StartUpNow Lab due to demand to work with all round entrepreneurs from other sectors, this was after working at Standard Media as journalist for 4 months, I developed this deep passion to help young entrepreneurs develop their ideas into businesses. You see, I want to be a solution to Africa’s top problems, but I can’t do that alone, so had to create a platform, StartUpNow to help do that.
4. WGN: You run a summit and an incubation lab. Tell us about that.
StartUpNow Tips:- Prepare yourself, not just your idea. Investors invest first in the entrepreneur not in the business plan. They will want to see that you are fast, thoughtful and efficient, and can sustain the project through its conception and growth Want to learn how to pitch and find investors sign up for some of our sessions now:- firstname.lastname@example.org +254727659512 +254721798686 #StartUpNowke #pitching #startups #investors #african #kenyan #entrepreneurship #entrepreneur #founders #tech #investment #kenya #africaentrepreneurs
Yes, we have an annual summit; StartUpNow Africa Entrepreneurship Summit, a three day conference that’s focused on bringing together Africa’s leaders, innovators, investors, entrepreneurs and other organizations in designing solutions to top problems faced in Africa. This year’s summit will be on 16th- 18th November at Michael Joseph Center. Our incubation lab helps entrepreneurs with access to mentors, investors, PR & Marketing, Brand design and product development, we work with entrepreneurs from two stages: idea stage and scale up stage.
5. WGN: How was the experience at Safaricom’s Blaze Summit and the Global Entrepreneurship Summit?
You see life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams, go for it, don't let anyone or anything put you down . You are great and blessed. Good night 😊😊 #StartUpNow #StartUpNowbyWilkings
Being a mentor at Safaricom’s Blaze was amazing, just that opportunity to travel all over the country to inspire young people was just great. About Global Entrepreneurship Summit, meeting US Former President Barack Obama and sharing podium with him was a dream come true, I was 23 then, it taught me that sometimes all you gotta do is believe in yourself and the world will believe in you, that’s how it works.
6. WGN: What would you advise a young 16-year-old Fadhili out there?
If you recognize your passion chase it, work on it, be crazy about it go out of your way to see something great come out it. If you don’t see something happening, repeat the steps again, again and again, I’m a believer of passion can take you places.
7. WGN: One un-googleable fact about you we do not know?
I can eat close to 20 lollipops in a day.
8. WGN: Best place in Nairobi where you hangout on a lazy weekend?
I’m an indoor person but when I have to go out, I’m alwaaaaaays at The Alchemist, just come and look for a fedora hat ?
9. WGN: What is the future on startup space in Kenya?
Kenya startup ecosystem is growing, amazing organizations coming up to support startups. We not yet there but step by step we will be there. That’s one of StartUpNow’s mission watch this space.
10.WGN: One mistake most startup entrepreneurs make in Africa?
Trying to be like someone else and playing ‘successful’. You need to be the best version of you and show the world the real you, that way it’s easier to attract people who can be of great value to you.
11. WGN: You started out having launched Fashion Torch Hub. Are you still involved with fashion and how did you make the shift from fashion to supporting entrepreneurs. Are you still running Fashion Torch Hub?
Well I’m still greatly involved in Fashion, but now more on helping fashion and creative entrepreneurs grow their brand into real revenue generating companies just like other companies, Fashion Torch is still in existence as a creative agency. It wasn’t easy making the shift, had like three months of break before shifting but again it was due to demand from other entrepreneurs, so I ran on that demand.
12. WGN: What is the single most helpful thing that has made a difference in your entrepreneur game during the past year.
Prayer and dedication, these two things are self-taught you need to develop them within you and practice.
13. WGN: What was the biggest business mistake you ever made.
Back then when I had just started Fashion Torch , I had gotten an opportunity to produce and organise a show in South Africa , I didn’t check my email to see if it was confirmed. Nowadays I check my email in think close to 10 times in a day.
14. WGN: Where will Wilkings Fadhili be in 5 years? In 10 years?
An African icon who’s a champion in growing young entrepreneurs ideas into businesses and of the best inspirational keynote entrepreneurship speaker in Africa.
15. WGN: Who are some of your mentors and why.
Tilo Ponder she’s the co-founder of What’s Good Networks and my business partner, this lady works so hard and knows her craft very well I learn from her the spirit of supporting people even if you not getting something in return. Next is my mom, always happy about life, always smiling, and very mysterious she can really very funny and playful at a times.
16. WGN: You are making waves. TEDx call up, a new podcast on wgRADIO.fm coming soon and much more. What other milestones are on the horizon?
Thank you so much, our TV show also coming up in September that’s focuses on connecting entrepreneurs to investors, business coaches and having entrepreneurial meaningful conversations.