My passion, my business
Creative entrepreneur defining her life and marching to the beat of her drum insists pursuit of interest over academic credentials is the key to her success
It’s a chilly Saturday in Westlands and the busy leafy suburb is more than willing to accommodate my tenacious hunger. I am seated inside the Alchemist, a popular open-air bar and diner where Burrito Bar is located, waiting for my meeting with the Bar’s owner, Faiza Hersi.
All this time, I have had a taste of the scrumptious chicken burrito and in-house fresh mango juice to wash it down. When she arrives at my table, we get down to business.
“I opened this place about two and a half years ago in partnership with my sister Fatuma. She handles the finance because of her financial background in college, while I handle the marketing side, so together we get it all done,” she says.
The Keele University and University of Buckingham law school graduate and alumnus has been highly invested in Kenya’s entertainment scene for the past year. She runs Nairobi R&B, a company devoted to showcasing the R&B music scene from Kenya and across the world.
She has brought in acts such as Kamauu, Masego, Big Tril, and staged various homegrown talents including Blinky Bill, Kagwe Mungai, Karun, Xenia Manasseh and many more.
“My lawyer-advocate side comes to life when I’m writing and negotiating contracts, while dealing with legal aspects of my businesses, so it does come in handy,” she says. With her hand in various baskets, she happens to be buzzing artiste Tanasha Donna’s manager.
“Managing a top-tier artiste and brand like Tanasha is great. It helps that we have known each other for quite a while now, so after plenty conversations, we both agreed that it made sense to partner,” Faiza adds.
Asked to define who she is, she claims that she has heard it all, from a tastemaker (someone who predicts and influences trends) to a culture curator but she simply terms herself as a creative entrepreneur who seeks to find creative solutions in the entertainment industry.
“It’s never been a ‘man’s world’ for me, I was raised by only women who put me through school. Seeing female entrepreneurs has been my norm. There was no other option for me, to be honest,” she tells People Plus.
The enterprising young lady has had to deal with fatalities in her lifetime, but still manages to get up each morning and chase her goals with the hope of revolutionising the world to a better place than when she found it.
“My parents’ passing away was and still is single-handedly the reason I fight so hard for what I believe in. I was two when my mum suffered a car accident and 20 when my dad died.
You quickly learn that life is for the living, and that it is short too. I just try to leave a legacy behind filled with passion and ambition. If nothing at all, I pray my journey gives others hope,” she explains.
Together she and her sister have managed to put their affinities into motion, and continued to strive no matter the circumstances.
“To be honest, the biggest lessons learned are the painful ones. When you lose money, or fall out with family, friends or business associates because they never saw the vision to begin with; those could suck, but they are very necessary in learning a lesson or two,” Faiza adds.
For them, the only way is up and they have ensured their dreams will make them young moguls, and an inspiration to others.
“Burrito Bar was a dream of hers and when it comes to business, we always do it together so that makes it our baby. When it comes to Nairobi R&B, that is my dream and henceforth it’s our baby too.
My sister has been my rock, and has taught me most of what I know, and made me who I am today,” she claims. Burrito Bar is a booming business, with deliveries making up 60 per cent of sales.
Accolades and awards
For her contributions in the digital media space, events, and enterprises, Faiza has been honoured this year with nominations in the Top Women in Business Awards 2019 in the categories; Creative Industry Award, Young Entrepreneur Award, Woman Business Owner of the Year.
Internationally, she has been recognised in the Star QT Awards based in Johannesburg, South Africa for Media Personality Award.
“It’s great to see other people recognise your work and I guess it’s cool that people acknowledge my business ethic in the entertainment industry.
I try not to get caught up in accolades and stick to my main goal, which is to champion the growth of R&B culture in Kenya and the continent at large,” she adds.
Of quotes she lives by: “Put in the work, and let go and let God actually put in the work,” she says.