Candy N Candy Records founder Joe Kariuki speaks, months after his release from prison in Tanzania
By Elly Gitau
You left Kenya a couple of years ago for Tanzania. What interests were you pursuing?
I will quote World Marathon Champion Eliud Kipchoge, “No human is limited.” And nobody should lie to you that you are limited by anything from achieving your goals. I have worked in Kenya for many years, doing a lot of profit and non-profit making ventures. At the same time, I was also doing similar projects in Tanzania and time came when I decided to head there and take some little time there to learn more about how to run my business and charity enterprises.
Your stay in Tanzania wasn’t particularly cordial and you were at some point arrested and imprisoned for two years. What transpired?
As a human being, you will always encounter different challenges in this journey of life. So, it happened that in the course of my business engagements, the government felt as if I wasn’t being honest about some things. I was taken to court and that’s how I found myself in prison. I appealed the sentence and I was actually found innocent and released.
How was the reaction from your friends and associates when you were sent to prison and throughout the period you spent there?
Let me tell you, the so-called friends can be such a letdown. Before I was sent to prison, we (I mean myself and the ‘friends’) used to enjoy all the good things in life together. This changed drastically when I was arrested. Nobody even wanted to be associated with me. They deserted me and that’s when I learnt to choose my friends well.
Now that you are back in Kenya, should we expect the return of Candy N Candy Records?
Most definitely. This is just among a lot of the projects I will be restoring. My passion for music and other arts is undying, although I am diverse and I have a whole lot of other things I am doing.
What are some of these ‘things’?
I run many ventures through my company, Candy N Candy Group Limited. This is in strategy, finance, business development and innovation in different sectors including mining, forex trading, music, and sports.
You are also giving out unsecured loans, right?
Yes. This I am doing through 51 Capital Limited, a smart loan company for people with no credit history, and also a non-deposit taking company. We are helping families and communities by offering cash loans of between Sh1,000 and Sh5,000 over a range of terms, subject to affordability. What's more, it provides a face-to-face weekly service, which many customers may not get with other lenders.
This kind of venture could be considered a risky business. Why are you doing it?
People need access to easy loans, including doorstep loans and all the opportunities it brings. Within these systems, they need choices, so they can do what they want to do, what they need to do and what they should do with their money. Finally, we want more people to have access to our home loan services, whether they are budgeting, saving, investing or learning.
What’s your advice to the youth and anybody trying to make it out there?
Believe in yourself and never let circumstances and situations limit you from realising your dreams. Do to others what you would want to be done to you.