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UP- Close with Irene Wanjiku, MD and Founder REXE Roofing Products Ltd

UP- Close with Irene Wanjiku, MD and Founder REXE Roofing Products Ltd

[caption id="attachment_1347" align="aligncenter" width="300"]MS. Irene Wanjiku, MD REXE Roofing products Ltd MS. Irene Wanjiku, MD REXE Roofing products Ltd[/caption]

 

Meet 31 year old Irene Wanjiku, the Managing Director and founder of REXE Roofing Products Ltd. Ms Wanjiku takes us through her entrepreneurial journey, the hardships and the fulfillment she experiences.

 

What is REXE?

REXE is an acronym for Reliable company, Excellent products and services, Xperience through a lot of years and Elegant products.

 

Where did you start and how did the business idea come to you?

I was working for a construction company for a period of seven years. I started out as a receptionist for a period of two years and I was later promoted to the accounts department and where I worked for another two years. I was then promoted to be the director’s personal assistant and finally I was the marketing and logistics manager.

I got to a place where my job became a routine and I did not feel challenged as I had gotten to the top and I was always wondering what to do next. That is when an idea struck me. I always heard people say that while constructing their houses, all they needed in place was a roof and they could work on the interior with time. I realized that a roof was a crucial part of any building thus I decided to venture into this area an entrepreneur and make changes that I saw necessary.

 

How long do you work in a day on average and how do you spend your day?

My day starts at 4:30 am and ends at 9:30 pm. Between 4:30 and 6:30 am, I conduct research on products as we intend to go into manufacturing after which I leave for the office. I attend business leadership classes on most days and I am also a member of various organizations and that means I attend a lot of meetings. I believe that for an individual to develop, one has to interact with like-minded people. The organizations challenge me to do better.

 

How do you generate new business ideas?

I realized that the best ideas come from exchanges hence I meet people who have more experience than I do. I am a member of the Keroche Mentorship Foundation which is a foundation that mentors entrepreneurs. I get to meet entrepreneurs like Tabitha Karanja and Chris Kirubi among others who are knowledgeable in their respective fields and interacting with them has brought on a wealth of knowledge. I am also a member of the Kenya Chamber of Commerce and I get to interact with other members who give me great ideas that I can implement in my business.

We also have strategic meetings at the board level where we present ideas and invite members of other boards to give their opinion on presented ideas.

 

What are some of the failures you have faced and what lessons have you learnt?

When we started out, our clients trusted us to deliver and this built a good relationship and as our business grew we trusted our new clients some of whom failed to honor payment plans that we agreed on. This taught me to be cautious and we found the need to always conduct background checks before delivering services on credit.

Throughout my entrepreneurial journey, I have learnt the importance of understanding the legal system when incorporating a business. It is also very important to check on tax matters.

 

What motivates you?

Change. I see a lot of change when clients, developers and individual home owners come in and they are happy that their homes do not have to conform to what everyone else has done because our products are unique.

The change in the people we are working with also motivates me. Some of these people have got only basic education due to various reasons and before joining REXE they had little or nothing to do. Instead of having them on the streets, we train them on how to fix some of the materials we use. We provide employment and seeing their life changes always motivates me to do even better.

 

What is your definition for success?

Success is the number of lives I impact positively.

 

What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?

It has to be the challenges. Major challenges excite me. Coming up with a solution is thrilling especially when I am in a situation where I feel that I cannot move forward. The fact that I am able to have control over my ideas is also a plus for me. Being an entrepreneur, I am at liberty to work on my ideas, perfect them and implement them.

 

What two key elements are necessary for starting and running a successful business?

Honesty and reliability. I believe that honesty in a business opens more doors. It is more valuable than any amount of money. Being reliable means that you listen to the clients’ needs and offer them quality service.

 

If you could start your career all over again, what would you do differently?

NOTHING. I am proud of the steps and decisions I made to get to where I am. I would go through the entire cycle with all the challenges included. I’ve made mistakes but every single one of them has made me a better person as I’ve achieved the best things while undergoing what seemed to be the worst challenges.

 

Where do you see your business in ten years?

Most of our products are imported from Europe and we intend to start manufacturing our own products that are up to standard and supply both locally and internationally. This would be a big financial gain for REXE and also for Kenya.

 

Final word of advice to upcoming entrepreneurs.

Upcoming entrepreneurs should not be deterred by their age. It is important to do away with all limitations and instead focus on that idea that could be a turning point. Be happy and proud of your achievements at all times and do not be afraid to make mistakes.

 

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