Valentine Nekesa 19, won the Be Your Own Boss – BYOB, much coveted 5 Million prize money. She is a third-year IT student at Mount Kenya University, who is passionate about fashion, and now the new boss in town. Notice the use of the boss instead of a millionaire.
Her warm smile captivates you even before you speak to her. “I am elated for this endorsement of my growth during the time I spent on the show,” she says.
Valentine is an only child, who after the death of her mother, went to live in Kakamega with her aunt who is caring for 13 other children, including her own. “My aunt has taught me the values of responsibility and staying focused on my goals”, she adds.
Coming from a humble background, she knows too well the meaning of hard work. “I grew up in a family where we had to appreciate the little we had, so I know nothing comes easy”, says Val. Through the show, she has learned how to bring out her leadership skills, which have seen her to the finals.
Apart from being a student, she is a part-time designer, with a passion for fashion and a model. “I was crowned Miss Kakamega in January”, she tells me. This girl is a winner and looking at the episodes of the BYOB TV show, you see someone who is in it to win.
Speaking of goals, what happens to school now that she has this money to start her business? “I am still a student and I plan to complete my degree, even with my business going on”, she elucidates.
Her IT degree will help her run her fashion business effectively. “Nowadays everything is online, so I will have the best website, and every technological resource to facilitate my business”, she says.
Val plans to buy the necessary machines and material she needs to produce samples of her work first. “I am not going to employ a team at first”, she explains. “When orders start trickling in, then I will need extra hands to help get the job done”, she adds.
She chose to work with the plus-sized woman because it is a market that has been sort of neglected. “The plus-sized woman faces the challenge of finding something trendy to wear”, she says. “There are very few shops that stock plus size clothes, and looking at my background, and the African context, a majority of women tend to be curvaceous”, she says with a smile.
BLAZE BYOB has been an eye-opener for the Kenyan youth, and the country in general; I thank my fellow contestants for coming out and demonstrating that the country’s youth have what it takes to lead,” Val says.
“Working as different groups were challenging, yet it made me grow my leadership qualities”, says Val. She did not like the challenge of selecting a member of the group for eviction but as she put it, a competition always has a winner.
During the show, the participants were assigned different challenges that incorporated local unconventional businesses and brands with the judges; Caroline Mutoko, King Kaka and Trushar Khetia taking them through the paces. Waceke Nduati, Founder, and CEO, Centonomy, joined the panel of judges in evaluating the three finalists.
The first runners-up, Safe Joe Mugweru walked away with Sh 1,000,000 while David Kimani won Sh. 700,000 to plow into their businesses.
Based on a reality TV – show concept, BLAZE BYOB was designed to be relatable to the Kenyan audience. The show is in line with the youth platform’s aim to empower young people and set them on a path to be entrepreneurs by imparting them with the requisite skills and networks to enable them to earn from their passion and talent.