By Prudence Minayo
The chief executive officer of Sarma Enterprises Limited (SEL) Sarah Karingi is the epitome of resilience, hardwork and a never give up attitude. SEL has been a market leader in supplying construction materials, interior deco, timber products and related services for the local construction industry for the past 20 years. She is also an author, speaker, and an award winner in entrepreneurship and business networking.
Here is her story as told by WoK.
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In 2010, her company lost Sh20 million worth of stock, equipments to arsonists. As discouraging as this was, she was not about to give up on her business. She was devastated but determined to rise up again from the ashes.
“…….my company lost Sh. 20 million worth of stock, machinery and three quarters of our premises to an arson attack. Giving life back to the business after this arson attack set back is my biggest milestone so far. This was not easy. I was devastated. But I picked myself up, and started building from the ashes. It took six years of patience and consistent work”, she told the Daily Nation.
She would then pump all of her energy into re-building her business. For six years, she labored tirelessly to ensure that the business got back on its feet.
“This experience taught me that with the right focus, resilience and determination, you can do anything,” she said.
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The business woman also stressed on the importance of treating suppliers and employees with dignity as at one point you may need their help. She says some of her employees remained with her even at a time when the business was barely generating income. There were also suppliers who gave her goods on credit as she was building her business once again. This just proves the importance of having the right relationships with people. She learnt that creating the right networks could open channels for ideas to be shared, developed and executed.
The serial entrepreneur is also a networking trainer and business mentor. She is passionate about connecting existing brands to prospective opportunities.
In 2015, Ms Sarah Karingi joined an enterprise development program at Strathmore University which transformed her business approach. This is why she has the belief that those in business need to invest in entrepreneurial knowledge.
Apart from running her business, Sarah has taken leadership roles. She is the:
- Chairperson in charge of hospitality at the United Kenya Club.
- Director Consultant and Chapter President at BNI.
The queen of networking is also a member of KNCCI, Women in Business (WIB) Kenya, Dubai Business Women Council and the chairperson Global Business Round Table, Kenya Chapter.
Ms Sarah Karingi has a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from the University of Nairobi and underwent training in the Enterprise Development Program and Owner Management Program at Strathmore University.
Honors and Awards
- African Businesswoman Hero of the Year Award in November 2020 by Women in Africa Network.
- African Woman of the Month Award in June 2020 by Women in Africa Network.
- October 2019 Most No of Visitors and Givers Gain Award
- March 2017 ABTEL Entrepreneurship Award to honor her for her distinguishing contribution to society within the spheres of influence. She was awarded alongside First Lady Margaret Kenyatta and CS Amina Mohamed.
- Africa Business Excellence; the Voice Achievers Awards in November 2017.
- Africa Business Networker by Top CEO TV Show in October 2017.
- Certificate of Recognition for outstanding performance by BNI in March 2017
- Certificate of Achievement by BNI for giving the most business between October 2014 to March 2015.