Melissa Mbugua was once told to “keep her hair straight, and be a good girl.” Today, she laments this advice as “absolutely boring!”
Speaking about her journey to entrepreneurship, Melissa describes it as somewhat inevitable.
“I was always told my perspective was weird. I love questioning things, and finding new solutions.”
Today, through her business, MNM Consulting, Melissa helps others to do the same. She supports small businesses in the creative industries to scale, working across media, design, publishing and fashion.
“The creative economy is growing at a faster rate than ever before. It holds so much potential for Africa’s urban youth.”
Professionally-speaking, Melissa cut her tech-teeth while working for some of the most promising tech companies in Nairobi. It was while at the iHub, working for Ushahidi, that she speaks of a growing urge to do more.
“There is a nascent innovation scene in cities like Nairobi, Accra, Lagos and Harare, but there isn’t much institutional support for these initiatives to grow.”
With MNM, Melissa and her team support startups, investors and policy-makers working across Africa’s creative economy.
They provide support on access to finance, business development and practitioner research, and work with some of the most edgy initiatives in Nairobi like NBO Film Festival, Lysa Africa and Book Bunk.
Melissa speaks of a new way of thinking driven by the younger generation across the continent. She says:
“There’s a push between the old system that views Africans as too weak to carry themselves, and our generation that is simply not buying this idea.
We know our worth and are expressing it through business, social initiatives, art, film, fashion and music.”
Melissa’s says the writing is already on the wall and points to the following African-led movements as examples.
- Business – https://sheleadsafrica.org/
- Fashion – http://www.thisisthenest.com/not-african-enough-a-fashion-book-2017/
- Tech – https://www.africantechroundup.com/
- Festivals – http://africanouveau.com/
- Cultural leadership – https://www.vogue.com/article/the-kenyan-cool-girls-guide-to-nairobi
Going forward, she envisions MNM as the entrepreneurial ‘spiritual home’ in Africa.
She wants to work with the most ‘disruptive’, boundary-pushing thinkers and doers, and contribute tools, knowledge and support for promising ventures. She says:
“I’ve always wanted to disrupt and improve the way things are done, now there’s just a term for it ~ innovation!”