Bold and ambitious. That is the only way to describe her. Esther Kinuthia is certainly not your average 23-year-old. In case you didn’t know, Esther was the youngest nominee on the list of Business Daily’s Top 40 under 40 Women, 2014. And she is in good company, ranked alongside Kenya’s female titans of industry, CEOs and entrepreneurs.
Esther runs a blog, missindependent.co.ke, popular for its inspiring and motivating articles, as well as interviews with personalities that young people consider role models.
In a country where gossip and malice rule the blogosphere, Esther dared to cut her own path and dared to be different. She uses her blog to inspire, challenge and motivate her peers.
But what’s a story without a “Where did it all begin?”
As is the norm with most remarkable things, missindependent.co.ke wasn’t planned. It wasn’t even on her radar.
“In 2012, two classmates approached me, (I was a student at Strathmore University then) and suggested that I start a blog. They had seen my long status updates on Facebook, and felt that my musings would attract lots of readers in that space.
Esther took up the challenge and has not looked back since. Her blog went live in February 2013. New to blogging, Esther was not sure where to start, or even what to blog about. But she had a clue, she wanted to inspire.
VIBRANT AND COLOURFUL
“My first blog post was based on one of Albert Einstein’s quotes, “Be a man of value rather than a man of success.” I blogged about putting other people’s needs before your own – that blogpost shaped the tone of missindependent.co.ke.”
Today, her vision has never been clearer and her mission has never been stronger.
“My vision is to have quantifiable impact on half of the Kenyan youth by the end of 2016 - I am doing this by driving meaningful conversations online. I am the kind of person who will share an interview or very important information that is probably not attractive or interesting to read, but is something that will really help you.”
Esther’s blog is as vibrant and colourful as her personality, and regularly features interviews with popular personalities such as Ian Mbugua, former Tusker Project Fame Judge; Margaret Ireri, Managing Director, TransAfricaMedia East Africa Ltd; Peter Nduati, CEO Resolution Health; and Radio Africa’s Caroline Mutoko.
It is easy to understand why the blog registers over 5,000 views as soon as Esther uploads a blogpost. Bloggers and blogging in Kenya thrive on gossip, slander and controversy to drive traffic to their website and get more clicks by the minute. Esther’s target market — the youth — is also the gossip bloggers’ target market, so how does she keep her fans loyal to her?
“I customise my blogposts. If I interview a CEO, it won’t be a boring interview with boring questions and cliché advice. I make it fun and youthful. My aim is not to compete with gossip blogs,” she says.
During her third year of university, she applied for an internship at Google through their careers online platform. Google was looking for only one intern and she landed the one-year internship programme as a marketing associate at Google Kenya.
It was this experience that taught her the value of internship before employment and the lengths to which a good internship programme shapes one’s career.
“You learn a lot that prepares you for a full-time role. Books don’t give you an idea of what is out there; however, internships give you an opportunity to understand what you are really interested in,” she says.
The internship at Google Kenya taught her to think ‘global’ without losing focus of her purpose and also how to relate with people from various countries.
Most importantly, she learnt the value of hard work, which paid off immediately after the internship. As soon as she graduated last June from Strathmore University with a Bachelor of Commerce (Marketing and Business Administration option) she got a job with Google as a digital media specialist, in Dublin, Ireland.
“When I got the job, I was excited and scared at the same time. Excited because I am extremely passionate about being a Googler, and scared because it was my first time living in a foreign country.”
“I had called Kenya home for the past 22 years – it has been two years now, and it has been an interesting adventure.”
Top 40 under 40
Esther says this nomination could not have come at a better time. Only a day before the e-mail notifying her of her nomination, she was on the verge of giving up on blogging, second-guessing herself and wondering whether she was really making an impact with her posts. The panel that selected her focused on what Esther, as a young Kenyan youth, is doing for the society.
She says that being selected in BD’s Top 40 under 40 women opened doors that she would never have imagined, even in her wildest dreams.
“The recognition and the validation mean a lot to me. Being on that list validated what I do, and people now take me more seriously, which is very important to me. The media recognition and the opportunity to work with some of Kenya’s remarkable women is priceless,” she says.
She is very busy at her new job in Ireland, but her blog is still active, and she continues to inspire Kenyan youth.
Name: Esther Kinuthia
Age: Born 23 years ago in Starehe, Nairobi
Currently reading:Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, What I know for Sure by Oprah Winfrey and The monk who sold his Ferrari by Robin Sharma.
Achievements: Was the youngest woman in Business Daily’s Top 40 Under 40 list of 2014.
Occupation: She is a digital media specialist at Google, based in Dublin, Ireland.