"I wanted to create something that was natural and African"
How a beautiful TV presenter Terryanne Chebet turned into successful entrepreneur

Text: Simon Ciuri

"I wanted to create something that was natural and African"
How a beautiful TV presenter Terryanne Chebet turned into successful entrepreneur

Text: Simon Mburu
"Nobody talks of entrepreneurship as survival, but that's exactly what it is and what nurtures creative thinking. Running that first shop taught me business is not financial science, it's about trading: buying and selling. It's about creating a product or service so good that people will pay for it,"

Anita Roddick
Founder, The Body Shop
Behind every face is a story. This is a story about Terryanne Chebet, an entrepreneur, mother, business journalist and a dreamer.

When Chebet's daughter Imani was young, she suffered from a serious bout of eczema. As a first time mother, Chebet could not bear the pain of seeing her daughter's skin itch and get inflamed. As any mother would do, she tried all kinds of remedies and products until she found a solution that worked.

That is how the dream of one day starting a personal care products brand was birthed. The dream was actualised in 2014 when Chebet launched Keyara Organics.

First, let's rewind. Before the success and dreams becoming a reality, is a past littered with pain and hardships.
Chebet's childhood
"I grew up in a very humble family. My father used to work in a museum and my mother was a home maker"
Terryanne Chebet
the proprietor of Keyara Organics
Chebet spent her childhood in Kitale in the North Rift. Like many rural families in Kenya, her family's source of livelihood came from farming and her father's earnings. Life would later take a drastic turn when her father and main bread winner, was injured in a road accident.

"The accident severely damaged his spinal cord and he eventually passed away leaving behind five children."

Her mother had to step up and struggle to provide the basics including including taking them through school.

"I went to Kitale Primary School which was a colonial institution. We did not have a television set, so I never aspired to be a television journalist. Instead, I wanted to be a lawyer," says Chebet.

In her school days, she was also very active in drama something that set her up for a career in front of the screen. After high school, she did a radio and television course. She is currently a student at the United States International University – Africa doing an undergraduate course in Journalism.
Supplementing her income
After college, Chebet landed a job at the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) earning KSh 12,000 per month. This was back in 2004. The figure went up to KSh 25,000 and she decided to rent her own house for KSh 5,000 per month. She had been living with her aunt.

Then her daughter Imani was born. Chebet knew with an extra mouth to feed, she had to supplement her income. She took up a part-time job in an advertising company in Nairobi.

She juggled being a mother and a journalist. Her journalism career took off. She has worked in various local and international television stations like CNBC Africa, Citizen TV, China's international News Network – CCTV and K24 TV. She is currently a business anchor at Citizen TV.

"Global channels do not give you the local attachment that can help you grow as a brand. That is why you see many reporters coming back home," explains Chebet when I ask her why many journalists do not stick for too long in global media outlets.

Getting into business
Now with a settled career, in 2015, Chebet started Scarlet Digital, a 360 degree communications company. She later sold a 50% stake to her business partner Emily Njagi who is now the managing director of the company.

"I noticed that there was a lot of workload that I could not have managed alone. I felt that I needed someone to take over the daily management of the company and this has scaled up the performance of the firm," she explains.

All her attention is now focused on Keyara Organics, a personal care company that makes oils, butters and body scents.
"After all the discussions, and years of back and forth discussions into the wee hours of the morning, I found my space. I wanted to create something that was authentic, beautiful and African in its mould natural and most importantly, globally competitive"
Terryanne Chebet
the proprietor of Keyara Organics
Сhebet is the team leader of Keyara. She has a small team that handles business development, packaging and marketing. She has outsourced the production of Keyara products to a manufacturer in Kikuyu, Kiambu County.

Her goal is to see the brands stocked and sold in outlets around the world. The brands are currently sold in select chemists. She is currently negotiating with various outlets to have them sell Keyara products.

Her current headache is cash flow. She started small but for her to grow, she needs more funds. The seed capital for the business was from her savings.
"Our products are 80% natural. We are currently developing a men's shower gel. Our biggest challenge in this business is packaging and sourcing for the raw materials which we import from USA and China," laments Chebet.

She sources cocoa butter from Ghana, shea butter from northern Uganda, marula oil from South Africa and Argan oil from Morocco. Coconut oil is sourced from Kenya.

Chebet admits that self-doubt is one of the key challenges that women entrepreneurs face in Kenya. However, looking back, she has no regrets. For her, success an entrepreneur is being able to create jobs.

At 37 years, Chebet is certainly unstoppable by any earthly force!
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