BOARD CHAIR – KENINVEST
My career in the legal profession spans a period of 37 years, having been admitted to the Bar in 1985. It has been an extremely fulfilling experience, even though it was, admittedly, more of my late father’s desire that I pursue law, perhaps to live out his own unfulfilled dreams. In high school, my father would invite his lawyer, Omesh Kapila, to accommodate me at his law firm, DV Kapila and Co Advocates, to get a feel of the profession.
Without a doubt, my personal ambition was to become a journalist, given my love for English literature as a subject, and being an ardent reader. Nevertheless, between my academic excellence at Alliance Girls High School, and my father’s enthusiasm, after my A-levels, I attended Bristol University in the United Kingdom (UK) for my Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree. Thereafter, I pursued a Master of Laws (LLM) degree at the prestigious London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), where the likes of former Presidents, HE Mwai Kibaki and HE Jomo Kenyatta, had previously studied.
Upon returning to Kenya, I went back to DV Kapila and Co Advocates, based in Nairobi, as an intern. After obtaining my Diploma at the Kenya School of Law (KSL), I relocated to Mombasa for marriage reasons. I soon landed an Associate role at a topnotch law firm at the time, Bryson, Inamdar and Bowyer Advocates. Fortunate enough to have been mentored by the three legendary founders, I built up key skills and experiences, enabling me to climb the legal ladder quite fast.
One important value that Bryson, Bowyer and Inamdar instilled in me was a strong sense of integrity, and a strict thoroughness in every brief, without cutting corners or lowering the standard when rendering legal services. To this extent, they developed in me a radical drive for excellence in all other areas of my life.
I later teamed up with Bowyer, after the three decided to part ways, and we opened up our own firm, Bowyer Mahihu and Co Advocates, in 1993. Bowyer passed away in 2008, leaving me as the current sole proprietor of the company, with offices both in Nairobi and Mombasa.
Through it all, my passion for reading and writing never waned. I am now a published author of seven inspirational books, focused on relevant life issues. Through these books and their content, I conduct seminars, workshops, motivational talks, corporate training sessions and local and international conferences.
Perhaps my greatest career accomplishment comes from my going beyond the legal aspect, and becoming more or less a counsellor, coach and mentor to many, especially women. This approach led me to establish ‘The Seasoned Woman’ 10 years ago, a forum for the empowerment of women in the marketplace, provoking them to discover their identity and person; their purpose and calling; their spheres of assignment; the right relationships; their values and principles; their process of growth towards success; and their prize in terms of leaving a good legacy both for the current and future generations.
My work through The Seasoned Woman has been globally recognised with awards including: The Susan Maxine Gibson Global Messenger of Hope Award, from the I Change Nations (ICN) Organization, USA, and The Dr Christine Kozachuk Guiding Light Award, from the Every Girl Wins Institute, USA.
Within the corporate sector, I have held several board positions, mainly in the private, social, educational and non-profit sector. For instance, my Directorship at St Andrews – Turi and Chairship of the Help A Child Africa (HACA) Organisation.
My most recent appointment as Chair of the Board of Kenya Investment Authority (KenInvest) is a welcome change and challenge. It is also right on time, because this is around the phase of my life that I had desired to serve in the public sector. In fact, in my book, ‘Seasoned Servanthood – The Key Ingredient To A Thriving Nation’, I address the noble concept of true service. In all sectors, be it in the church, society, corporate or public service, we are given a clarion call to always make an impact and become a voice of positive influence, in whichever sphere we are planted, so as to ensure we leave it better than we found it.
KenInvest is a national leader in investment attraction and retention, aimed at promoting and facilitating domestic and foreign investments in Kenya. This is achieved by advocating for a conducive investment climate, providing accurate information, and offering quality services to investors towards a prosperous nation.
Kenya is one of the world’s best kept secrets, and a super dreamland for investors, but our investment potential is yet to be fully unleashed.
To this extent, my vision and mission as new Chair is to pick up from where my predecessors left off, and steer KenInvest towards enhancing and maximising investments in Kenya. This goal will be fulfilled by addressing, confronting and overcoming the bottlenecks and potholes that are locking up Kenya’s investment potential, for example, the culture of kickbacks and cumbersome bureaucracies.
In addition, radical branding and awareness creation with full digitisation is necessary and urgent, so as to make KenInvest more visible and vibrant.
There is a need to shift mindsets and understand that we need the investors, and that they are not doing us a favour, considering the many other viable options available to them in other jurisdictions. Moreover, we need to change the negative narrative that dubs Kenya an unfriendly investment environment, towards a positive narrative that speaks of Kenya as being a nation that facilitates, not frustrates investors.
Having the right conversations, with the right people, about the right investments, is key in implementing KenInvest’s mandate.
To succeed in this appointment, I am counting on the support of all key stakeholders, including the appointing authority.