Young Kenyan brushes entrepreneurial skills in China
19 November 2015, 19:11
Nairobi - The rolling hills in central Kenya where Brian Abu grew
up provided a perfect training ground for the 27-year-old to master
life's skills including agility, resilience and courage.
Abu had a modest upbringing, but his parents exhorted
him to pursue his dreams while ignoring doomsayers who opined that a
rural boy had minimal chances in life.
The last born child in a family of five scored an impressive grade in
high school and in 2009, he joined the University of Nairobi to pursue a
bachelor's degree in economics.
In a strange turn of events, Abu felt his calling was not in the
dismal science and later switched to Chinese language and political
Abu was among the pioneer students at the University of Nairobi's
Confucius Institute and credits a mastery in Chinese language for
opening new doors.
During an interview with Xinhua on Monday, Abu was upbeat about the
future having acquired essential skills that would enable him to
navigate the life's treacherous journey with ease.
The owner of a thriving start-up that sells ladies attire
manufactured in China hails multilingualism for enhancing personal
interactions and commerce.
Even as he studied mandarin at the University of Nairobi's Confucius
Institute, Abu knew his destiny was in the world of business.
Thanks to hard work, passion and commitment, Abu won a scholarship to
pursue a master's degree in Chinese language at the Tianjin Normal
His month-long visit to China for the first time in 2011 was an eye
opener to an ambitious youth determined to make a mark in the world of
Later in 2013, Abu commenced his post graduate studies at the Tianjin
Normal University that has a long-standing partnership with the
University of Nairobi.
While studying in China, Abu was privileged to interact with people
from different cultures and nationalities who broadened his worldviews.
As a teenager, Abu had witnessed Sino-Kenya bilateral ties blossom
and yearned for an opportunity to visit the Asian giant and learn how it
achieved monumental feats in a short period.
"While in high school, China was actively involved in our country's
infrastructure development under former President Mwai Kibaki. As a
youth, I was inspired by Chinese activities in my country hence my
desire to study mandarin," Abu told Xinhua.
His post graduate degree in Chinese language did not affect his dream of becoming a successful entrepreneur.
"Even before I left for China, I had some thriving businesses in
Nairobi. At the University of Nairobi, I tried several business ventures
and together with friends, we were the first people to introduce light
emitting diodide (LED) samples in the Kenyan market," said Abu.
He completed his masters' degree in Chinese language in July this
year and since then has concentrated on building a business empire.
Abu and his two partners currently own three clothes shops that employ six people.
"We make online request for stock from our suppliers in China and
have utilized digital platforms to advertise the clothes to Kenyan
clients. Our attire is popular with young female professionals," Abu
He added the ladies' attire imported from China is elegant and authentic.
Abu's frequent visits to China have improved his entrepreneur skills
that have made it possible for him to run a thriving start-up in
"My experience in China has exposed me to new and rewarding
opportunities. China offers vital lessons on logistics and online
shopping," said Abu.
He has developed long-term friendship with Chinese entrepreneurs who have taught him valuable lessons on how to grow a business.
Studying the Chinese language was a strategic decision for Abu as he mulled venturing into the world of business.
He told Xinhua a firm grasp of mandarin has made it easy for him to interact and conduct business with the Chinese people.
"Learning the Chinese language was the best decision that I made in
life. Apart from mastering the language, I have also created serious
networks in China," Abu noted.
He is a member of Wechat groups formed by Chinese and Kenyan entrepreneurs to exchange vital information on business trends.
The alumni of Tianjin Normal University that has a sizeable population of Kenyan students considers China his second home.
The thriving clothing line Abu and his friends have created in Nairobi is popular with young female urban professionals.
"On average, we sell 100 pieces daily and our clothing line has 200,000 followers on Facebook. Online marketing is behind our success," said Abu.
His future dream is to establish a local manufacturing plant for garments to help reduce over-reliance on imports.
"The government should encourage Chinese investors to develop special
economic zones in order to promote the local manufacturing sector," Abu
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