How “Survive to Thrive” gave Wamaitha the tools to survive a spinning business world.

Wamaitha sitting in chair

Even the finest dreams need shock absorbers, so when Wamaitha Karanja, Founder and Lead Associate at Kernel Associates in Nairobi, embarked on her human resource dream, few things had ever challenged her like the 2020 pandemic. 

‘’When I went into business, I thought that it would be easy. But that only happened until the pandemic hit and my mind went blank. As the business owner I felt mentally stuck.”

Wamaitha describes herself as a woman living with delicious ambiguity. She believes in leading from the heart and emphasises the importance of extending kindness into the boardroom. Having worked in the human resource industry for over 10 years, her love and passion for people that is also inspired by her mum, pushed her to start Kernel Associates, which offers Kenya-centric solutions and approaches to recruitment.

Like many other business owners, Wamaitha describes the last two years as a time she had to pause, reflect and adjust a lot in her business. “I was experiencing a lot of burnouts.  I was fearful and anxious at the same time so when AMI accepted my application into Survive to Thrive, I was thrilled.” 

Wamaitha hit the ground running and began implementing strategies to keep her business afloat. Through lessons on risk management, cash flow and strategic planning, she began evaluating all her sources of revenue. 

To her surprise, what used to generate the most revenue was now contributing only 25% of her total. “We were kept afloat by a business line we’d not fully dedicated resources and time to. I was surprised by what a shift in mindset towards my business could do.” 

Something she would have barely learnt without joining Survive to Thrive.  

During this season, one of Kernel’s big projects stalled, and part of their payment for work delivered was delayed affecting cash flow and salaries. 

Through this experience she adopted financial planning and forecasting lessons picked up from AMI. Wamaitha would later combine efforts with her finance manager to revise their client contracting and billing processes. “I have an entire folder saved on my laptop full of AMI resources. Now, before we take on any client or project, we ensure that we have a well written contract with clear timelines and a proper billing structure.”

Through this programme, Wamaitha also learnt the importance of mental wellness as a business owner. 

“This programme reminded me of the importance of leading with the heart and mind concurrently and that is how I began holding regular check-ins with my team. This gave me an opportunity to openly talk about our financial status as we worked on adjusting our model for compensation. We now compensate employees on a contractual basis which is working well so far.”

“The AMI four action template is one among the many tools that I will carry everywhere I go. It’s through this template that I was able to identify what to eliminate, reduce, raise and create. Eventually, we survived! And to our surprise, we managed to pay off a few debts and increase our associates’ stipend. All this is thanks to AMI.”


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