Mediamax Network Limited

I traded my office desk for a construction site

Wendy Nthenya, has been subcontracted by the China Communications construction company to build slope protection for the SGR Phase 2A

Milliam Murigi @millymur1

T ell us about yourself?

My name is Wendy Nthenya Wambua, I am a secretary by profession and the founder of Kavi International Limited, a local construction company, which was formed in 2015. The company also offers other services such as general supplies, building materials, road maintenance and bridge construction. I am 37 years old and a mother of three.

You are one of the few women entrepreneurs who have been given contracts in the construction of the SGR Phase 2A from Ngong to Narok. Could you tell us more about the deal?

Kavi International Limited has been awarded Sh29 million contracts to build slope protection structures in sub-section one of the SGR Phase 2A line in Ngong.

Slope protection structures help to stabilize the slope and can last a lifetime in protecting surrounding properties from damage and people from injury if they are maintained in a good and functional condition at all times. Currently we have completed two ditches, DK 27 and 28, and the third one DK 30, is under construction.

Your company is still young, how did you land such a contract?

It was not an easy journey for me considering that my company is not even four years old. The journey has been rough, but all in all we managed to get the contract. It all started when the China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) announced that they will be commencing construction of SGR phase two.

Once they started the work I used to visit different site to see what the contractors were doing since I was interested in being part and parcel of the project. So January this year I presented my documents to the company and after several phone calls to confirm whether I have been considered I was officially awarded the contract in April this year.

Many contractors focus only on those who have achieved great financial success for sub-contracting. Was it the case at your end?

I think this is just a perception because before, I had only done one big project so if that were the case I would not have been awarded this contract. You only need to be passionate and come up with a clear  delivery framework. You also have to be financially stable because most big contracts are not paid up front.

What are some of the challenges that you have been facing so far?

People tend to think that women cannot excel in this industry and this has been the greatest challenge so far. Even before I signed the papers the company still had doubts but I assured them that all would be well.

So far my bosses are happy with my work apart from some minor mistakes here and there, but I am happy they are always available to guide my team.

Getting quality equipment has also been a challenge in this industry. I was forced to buy new equipment for this project since the ones I had did not meet the set quality standards and were thus rejected by the company.

Was it all about construction when growing up?

No, I have actually never ever attended any class to be trained on construction ,but I am planning to join one soon. In the meantime, I make do by hiring competent qualified personnel and consulting extensively with engineers.

What are your future plans?  

I am currently looking for opportunities to expand into our neighbouring countries and once I successfully penetrate the industry I want to raise the bar for female entrepreneurs in this industry.

How has the experience been working with a foreign company?  

So far so good, through such partnerships we are able to exchange skills and learn about technology. Unlike local contractors who just show up once a week or sometimes not at all, the people I work with are there every step of the way to make sure the work is done well and offer guidance.