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Evelyn Kasina: No opportunity is bigger than strong ethics

Friday March 15 2019

Evelyn Kasina is the founder, Eveminet Communication Solutions. PHOTO| COURTESY

Evelyn Kasina is the founder, Eveminet Communication Solutions. PHOTO| COURTESY 

JAMES KAHONGEH
By JAMES KAHONGEH
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Evelyn is a graduate of cyber security studies from Kenya Methodist University.

She is passionate about information technology and its dynamics in day to day life.

In 2009, she founded Eveminet Communication Solutions Ltd, a social enterprise that provides digital literacy programmes to children and their guardians.

Through this, Evelyn champions Sustainable Development Goals that seek to eradicate poverty and promote gender equality and quality education.

She tells us why technology intrigues her.

  

Why did you found this enterprise? What did you hope to achieve?

I was hoping to equip as many Kenyan children as possible with digital literacy skills that would enable them to take up the opportunities that technology offers.

In 2014, I resigned from my job as an IT officer with the government to follow my dream.

It was not an easy decision to make - my family and friends thought it was an ill-informed move, but today I am happy because I am able to change and enrich many young lives through technology.

  

The International Women’s Day was celebrated on Friday last week. What are your proudest achievements as a woman?

I am proud of the work I am doing to create and improve cyber security awareness and digital literacy among parents and their children.

The fact that I have a voice in the industry that has been dominated by men for a long time makes me a happy woman.

For two years in a row, in 2017 and 2018, I won two accolades, one from CEO Global and another from PAN African Awards, both under the SME Category for the region.

I am proud to be an inspiration to other women who aspire to contribute to the technology space.

 

Women have continued to break the glass ceiling in most socioeconomic and political spheres. How does this make you feel as a young woman in technology?

I am grateful to the women who came before us, for blazing the trail for us.

The strides they made in technology, political and business leadership motivate women who are trying to break new ground.

While we may have done quite well as women, we still have a long way to go to break fundamental gender barriers that exist in our societies.

 

You describe yourself as a “geek diva”. Why does technology intrigue you so much?

Technology is an exciting space with so many opportunities for exploitation.

I am intrigued by the convenience that it has brought into our lives. You are always a few clicks away from a solution to any problem.

That we are able to share information and ideas instantaneously, to learn and to be entertained without limitations of traditional boundaries makes technology the most exciting invention in the history of mankind.

  

Who do you look up to as a leader in technology?

I am privileged to have mentors in youth leader Caren Wakoli (Executive Director of Emerging Leaders Foundation) and Mucha Mlingo, an expert in emotional intelligence. Mlingo is a Zimbabwean/British who has excelled as a businesswoman in Kenya.

These women have taught me to dare outside my comfort zone and to take on different challenges with grace and confidence.

My family and close friends are also part of my support system.

 

What is the most significant transformation you have undergone as a professional?

Earlier in my profession, I suffered from the ‘millennial bug’ of using shortcuts.

My research skills were also poor. For simple solutions in my everyday life, I relied entirely on the internet.

Until I met Ms Lilian Kamau-Obinju, my former boss at the government office where I worked. Obinju taught me the importance of figuring out solutions by myself even when the easiest choice is within reach.

She warned me that overreliance on the internet would erode my innovativeness.

From then on, I have relied more on my own insight, and become a better problem solver. I still use the internet for research, but only as a complementary tool.

Work-life balance is among your areas of focus. How can young business leaders attain this?

Establish a strong support system socially and professionally.

Train and empower your team.

Allow them to make decisions on their own, make mistakes and learn. Avoid being everything in the office. Systems should work even in your absence.

Chronic fatigue and depression sometimes set in because of believing too much in ourselves. Have time for breaks and for social interactions.

Spare time for family and friends. I live by the philosophy that other peoples’ emergencies are not necessarily my priority.

 

What do you envision for the local digital literacy space?

I hope to see closer collaborations between the government and the private sector in improving digital literacy using the government’s free primary education programme for the benefit of all children.

I also hope to see digital opportunities harnessed in education and our children empowered and encouraged to become digital co-creators.

I look forward to the day Kenya will export tech content to the rest of the world. I am happy to do this through our 10-week Whiz Kids Africa Programme.

  

Are there opportunities you wish you had taken but did not?

Early in my career, I had the opportunity to work with a certain organisation, which would have put my career on a firm trajectory, but there was a conflict between my ideals and the facilitator’s demands.

I had to forego the opportunity to preserve my integrity.

No opportunity is bigger than strong ethics.

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