Jerry Isaac Mruma, the graduate representative in USIU’s student government (SAC), found his entrepreneurial calling at a young age. While growing up in Tanzania, he had his first taste of entrepreneurial success at 17 when he initiated a CSR project that attracted the support of the UN, and saw him and his fellow schoolmates successfully raise and donate Tshs 500,000 in goods and cash to orphanages.
“I got confident after that,” he says, “so I started a school newspaper. I wrote it, had it printed and worked with some friends to sell to students, parents and everyone. I had a monopoly so I could charge whatever prices I liked.”
That was, however, short lived.
“School takes priority where I’m from. When I came to Kenya, I was overwhelmed by the level of business entrepreneurship here,” says Jerry.
He quickly found his niche, and joined a network marketing company. The opportunity to meet with high profile business leaders through the company, coupled with business trips to places like Malaysia, and Thailand enabled him to supplement his university education with practical business experience.
“I learnt the ropes of business within a short time. I was taught an important lesson – to welcome failure if you intend to succeed.”
At 21, he graduated with a BSc in International Business Administration with honors, and is now pursuing a Masters in BA with a concentration on Entrepreneurship.
“I serve as the graduate representative in SAC. I chose this role because of the opportunities it offers to network and serve professionals from all over Kenya. I don’t get paid but the exposure is priceless. Any chance to take up a leadership role shouldn’t be ignored, I believe.”
Jerry narrates how he started Kilimo Yetu – an Agribond investment initiative:
“For two years in a row, a friend of mine, Billy Malesi, kept asking if I wanted to invest in wheat farming with him. He offered me a very high rate of return and I got skeptical. I took the risk and 5 months later got an 80% return on investment,” says Jerry.