Gladys Muhunyo, Director of Africa Programmes, Computer Aid Africa; Kenya

Words of Wisdom: “You win, when others win with you. You grow as your network grows with you. As growth brings social impact it will definitely improve your bottom line.” – Gladys Muhunyo

Interview with Gladys Muhunyo, Director of Africa Programmes, Computer Aid Africa; Kenya

Gladys Muhunyo, Director of Africa Programmes, Computer Aid Africa; Kenya

Gladys Muhunyo is the first lady to be appointed head of an Information Communication Technology (ICT) network in the African Continent. Originally a teacher and then the manager of an internet service provider, Gladys was recruited as Computer Aid’s first ever East Africa Programme Officer, since when she has risen through the ranks to become Assistant Director: Africa Programme. Gladys has 14 years experience in the field of ICT for Development, travelling widely across Africa and personally contributing to many projects applying affordable ICTs to education and social development.

Computer Aid website:

Gladys Muhunyo, Director of Africa Programmes, Computer Aid Africa; Kenya

Note: The key messages in the interview have been transcribed and slightly edited for legibility and succinctness. More information is provided in the video version. We welcome comments on the Wisdom Exchange TV website.

[ Suzanne F Stevens ]: Reflective Realizations:

[ Gladys Muhunyo ]:

  • I became an entrepreneur as I thought I would make money, but realized money was not my motivator, I realized my greatest desire was to grow people, to make them better then they are themselves. I became a school owner, to a social entrepreneur.
  • Left being an entrepreneur in order to impact more people.
  • To be successful you need a network.
  • You need mentorship, which will create opportunity. When I started in business I didn’t know people would be willing to talk to me. I was too afraid to ask people for assistance. Ask people that you admire for assistance you will have less hurdles in your career.
  • Certain cultures will not listen to a woman regardless of my role, accept it and know it is not about you.

[ Suzanne F Stevens ]: Key Learnings as an Entrepreneur

[ Gladys Muhunyo ]:

  • It is all about what you have, not what you don’t have. Begin with what you have and you will be able to achieve your objective.
  • Know your skills and talents and your business will grow.
  • It was difficult to get funding as a young lady to expand and to grow. I established small level partnerships. I can’t have all the knowledge, but there is someone that can help leverage my education and network.

[ Suzanne F Stevens ]: How to Build Partnerships

[ Gladys Muhunyo ]:

  1. Look at what are your strengths?
  2. What is the partnership that you need?
  3. What partner will be able to assist you with where you are going or bridge a gap.
  4. Reach out and meet with potential partners. We can’t do everything, build network with their level expertise. “We can’t do everything well.”

[ Suzanne F Stevens ]: Most Rewarding part of being an Entrepreneur

[ Gladys Muhunyo ]:

  • Helping people grow.
  • I achieve social growth and business growth.
  • I realized the money wasn’t as important.

[ Suzanne ]: Challenges as an Entrepreneur

[ Gladys ]:

  • As an entrepreneur and a young lady, the most difficult things is to get funding.
  • Being a woman in the 90’s you need a man to get licenses.
  • Being young was also challenging. People perceived they don’t know enough to be successful

Conducting Business in Africa

Africans focus on the social element of business, not everything is about the bottom line.
Africans are not using social media for many reasons:

  1. People are concerned about people having information about them
  2. Not understanding the power of the tool that is their hands. Partly not talking to people using social media, or not enough education.
  3. People have not seen the bottom line of using the medium. They can’t see how it relates to business growth. We need to train people to understand the impact.
  4. Africans don’t like talking about themselves “we don’t blow our own trumpet. We believe you let people talk well of you, don’t talk well of yourself.”

We need training and advocacy in social media.

How to acquire a Mentor

  1. Join an association in your area of business
  2. Go to your bank they have a ‘business network forum’ find out how they support the bigger businesses.

How to use a Mentor

Anytime you have a question, ask someone, even if you believe you are right, you have confirmation. You will gain further confidence.

What motivated you to go into the corporate world?

  • The need for more growth.
  • What I didn’t know, I went to organization that would teach me the skills I needed i.e. internet business.
  • Marrying skill with philanthropy.

Responsibility of being the first to achieve

  • As the first woman to be appointed head of Information Communication Technology Company in Africa many wondered who I knew, not what I knew.
  • Being the first means you have to maintain being the best, or grow other people to be as good as you, or better then you.
  • Sometimes people doubt that you can do it, this encouraged me to go back to school to get my degree in Organizational Development, to demonstrate not only did I have the skill, now I have the degree.
  • You are responsible to nurture other woman to choose Information Technology as a career. We created a program to promote IT for girls.
  • We need to mentor people, especially ICT (Information Communication Technology).

Most significant thing you have achieved in your career

  • Setting up Computer Aid International Regional office from scratch with the assistance of a team during an economic downturn.
  • Creating a network all over Africa.

Successful mentorship means-Someone allows you to exercise your space and grow.

Edgeness Insight

  • I have a fear of flying but I have needed to do it to increase our network at Computer Aid Africa.
  • I fly every month, to teach what technology can do for you.
  • Where I was outside my comfort zone is going to another Country with a different culture and accept that the culture was not going to listen to me, because I was a woman. They had ignored me and only accepted what was said when a man said it.

What do you perceive is the biggest obstacle for women?

  • Fear, being afraid of being who you want to be. If you don’t do it, who will do it? We have networks to support us, we just don’t look for them.

What does success mean to you?

  • It is a journey, everyday of achieving something new that you did not achieve before. Also helping someone achieve something new.
  • We never finish achieving the level of success, there is always something new to learn and achieve.

How do you define leadership?

  • Leadership is when a follower is doing the right thing.
  • Someone who is learning from you, following you in the right direction.
  • Growing people.
  • Achieving results as part of a team.
  • “Leadership is leading by example.”

Leadership Lessons from Gladys Muhunyo

  1. Nothing is impossible. It can be done. It begins with me.
  2. It is the people that matter, the people on your team. Help them to leverage their strengths and to achieve more than you have and you can do anything as a organization.
  3. Building a sound network of partners, customers, & clients. You can achieve that by doing an extra 1% for each one of them.
  4. Embrace information and communication technology. Have information in a central place so everyone has access to it can you leverage the full potential as a person and as a business.

How do you ensure you are true to yourself?

  • Make time to read business books.
  • Get into networks that grow people.
  • Goal evaluation, not just goal setting, but have we actually achieved the goal?
  • Sometimes values are being challenged, so don’t be like everyone else, be different. This is important when hiring people. We ensure it is with integrity. It is not who know, it’s about are you the best person for the job.

What would you do differently on route to your success?

  • Need to start writing.  Seek more mentorship mentally, physically, & spiritual

Leadership Lessons for young women or in business from Gladys Muhunyo

  1. What advice would you give to your 10 yr old Daughter?
  1. Do not be afraid. You are in this world for a purpose and you can achieve that purpose.
  2. Be respectful in asking for information and you will get it.
  3. Give back at all ages, volunteers have to start young.

Q What do you wish you learned at 10yrs?

  • I wish I was told a girl can do any work not just cooking or being a teacher.

Words of Wisdom by Gladys Muhunyo

You win, when others win with you. You grow as your network grows with you. As growth brings social impact it will definitely improve your bottom line.

Listen to interview for what is next for Gladys, and what she hasn’t done yet and more leadership insights.



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