By Prudence Minayo
Barclay Okari is an ingenious entrepreneur whose volunteering work turned out to be a gold mine. According to a 2014 article on Forbes magazine, Okari became a multi-millionaire when he was 22 years old. His flagship business venture Safi pads gave birth to his company Impact Africa Industries Limited. He started a manufacturing plant for sanitary towels in Kitale and by 2014 employed 34 people, 23 being full timers. At the time, the company was registering annual revenues of US$300,000 (approximately Ksh35 million). Today, they sell their products in East Africa with their biggest market being in Kenya.
Paul has also been behind two tech start up companies which have had mixed success.
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Here is his profile as told by WoK.
In a bid to add weight to his resume and to give back to the society, Okari decided to work as a volunteer at a girls school in Narok. He found out that most of the girls missed schools on a regular basis which had a huge impact on their academic results. Upon investigation, he realized that it was because they could not afford sanitary towels during their menstrual cycle. Hence, most opted to stay at home where they made makeshift pads using things like blankets.
Safi Pads Launch
This got him researching on a way to make their life a bit easier. It was here that the idea for Safi pads began to take root. He developed a technology of an absorbent patch which is fixed with cotton to make it comfortable and can be washed.
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The now 30 year old Okari got an initial capital investment of Sh150,000 from his parents. The money got him through the initial stages of the business. He managed to continue growing the business even while pursuing a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Nairobi. He also has an ACCA-UK from Strathmore University.
Safi pads are safe to use, washable and can be used for upto a year. He at times partners with NGOs and the county government to make the pads more accessible for the girls .
“So far, I can say that I am succeeding in my quest. My ultimate goal is to build an African conglomerate invested in different sectors of the economy, creating thousands of jobs and playing a key role in pushing Africa to the next level economically,” he told a local media house.
FinAcess Global LLC Co-founder
Barclay Okari is also the founder of FinAcess Global LLC and the writer of the publication Marketplace, which provides advice for startups
In 2013, he was the finalist for the Anzisha prize which rewards outstanding young African entrepreneurs. The award is sponsored by MasterCard Foundation. He won $18,000 grant from the Higher Circle Silicon Valley. He said the money helped with the purchase of new machinery and in capacity building. It also made them realize that their work was being appreciated all over the world.