Eva Muraya, the Kenyan Entrepreneur With a Heart of Gold
February 6, 2013 by Jennifer Nkem-Eneanya 1 Comment
Eva Muraya 1
Been a while since I wrote about our dear Kenyan brethren. Well, Eva Muraya opens up the Kenyan roll-call for 2013.
Now how do we catalogue a woman who has been the recipient of so many national and international awards over a span of years? Eva was awarded the UNDP Top Women in Public and Private Sector in 2009, the MSK Warrior Award, Marketing Society of Kenya in 2008, the International Alliance for Women (TIAW) World of Difference Award (Top 100 women of the World,) also in 2008, the Goldman Sachs Fortune Global Leaders Award – Co-recipient 2008; included in Kenya’s Top 50 women to watch, Business Daily in 2007, and declared by Eve Magazine as Kenya’s Woman Entrepreneur of the Year in 2006.
Eva Muraya attended the Alliance Girls High School in 1986. Upon her graduation, she trained in the United States International University, Nairobi, Kenya and earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Journalism and Marketing. From the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, she earned diplomas in Marketing, Advertising, Public Relations, Sales and Management. From the Marketing Society of Kenya, a Certificate in Marketing, and from the Strathmore Business School in Nairobi, Kenya, an Advanced Management Program (AMP). She also acquired a joint certification between IESE Business School, Spain and Strathmore Business School, Kenya. A lot of learning did go on here. Eva was well equipped to take on the world.
So what did Eva study so hard for, you may ask? Eva co-founded Color Creations Group Ltd, the first advertising and branding business to gain the global quality management systems standards ISO 9001:2001 Certification in East and Central Africa. Asked why she decided to go into business in an interview with Ventures Africa, Dinfin Mulupi, Eva ascribed it to a ‘restlessness of spirit.’ She said, “I knew I preferred to invest myself in a space that would also provide the opportunity for innovation that wouldn’t be as possible in the multinational context. I needed something that would completely free me to run the nine yards as fast I could. That is why I decided to co-found Color Creations Ltd, a merchandise producing company. It has a regional outlook today.”
Prior to becoming the entrepreneur she is now, Eva bestrode the corporate business world. Her climb up the corporate ladder started with an internship at BAT Kenya where she was a Communications Assistant. She worked as an Account Executive and Press Officer for ‘For Your Information Limited’ from 1989 – 1991, and headed up to become the Advertising Manager at the Standard Group Ltd from 1991-1993. Her final stop before bifurcating was as the Regional Sales and Marketing Manager for FedX (East African Courier Ltd) from 1994 – 2001. Proud of her past accomplishments, Eva opined, “I was capacitated to build FedEx as a new brand in Kenya. I was tasked as sales and marketing manager to grow the brand in the region. By the end of the eight years we had grown the brand from a little in-bound service to a regional brand covering five African countries managed out of Nairobi. That was a great achievement. I quit because I had done my cumulative 15 years in the corporate world and I needed a new challenge.”
Resigning as the CEO of Color Creations, Eva went on to found Brand Strategy and Design Limited, a leading regional brand, strategy and design agency. Eva is the Chairman of the Kenya Association of Women Business Owners, a forum where women in business come together to discuss pertinent issues affecting women owned businesses in a dynamic marketplace. She is also the Chairman of Zawadi Africa Education Program which is designed to provide scholarships for needy, academically talented young women from Africa. These young women must demonstrate leadership skills and have a strong desire to pursue a premium or graded education in the United States. Over 141 students have accessed some of the best universities across the world through this program. Eva also spearheaded the successful start-up of the be.campaign, an initiative that aims at empowering the potential of skilled, educated but unemployed youth, with the aim of equipping them with entrepreneurial skills that doubles up as sustainable income. Does she have a heart for the people or what?
Eva serves on several brands both local and internationally. She serves on the Vital Voices African Board of Advisers on the economic and education portfolio; a global organization that invests in the development of leadership skills in women. Eva is an internationally-known motivational speaker on topics such as business leadership, mentorship and small and medium woman-owned business development. She was a delegate at Essence- Women Who Are Shaping the World Leadership Summit in New York, in Oct 2006 and also addressed the 2006 Fortune’s Most Powerful Women’s Summit. She was also a speaker at the 2007 Pan-Africa’s Women Leadership Summit sponsored by Vital Voices.
Eva’s advice for women entrepreneurs in the 21st century: “We need to quit this ‘microwave results’ mentality. Media has not reminded us enough of the value of working hard. There is nothing you will gain from not working hard. If you want to be successful, then you have to work hard and whilst at it, would also a lot help if you work smart!”