I maneuver past the famous ancient Paradise Lost on my way to meet Joseph Gichunge and his beautiful wife Leah Imaita, the founders of Jazza Centre.
I arrive at the serene environment of what looks like a luxurious home with a well-trimmed garden in Runda for the scheduled interview with Joseph, it is now clear why he wanted this interview to take place at their offices, the view and fresh air is extremely breathtaking.
Joseph walks to meet me a few minutes after I arrived and we sit down for our interview over a cup of tea and fresh queen cakes baked by the company’s trainees.
How does Jazza Centre operate?
“Jazza Centre picks youth from underprivileged backgrounds trains them for free then gets them jobs as domestic managers, gardeners, and customer service and tea girls,” Joseph says.
Jazza Centre was birthed in 2013 with the need to offer free training to young vulnerable Kenyans that come from a financially challenged background and job placement thereafter according to the Centre’s website.
In an era where most people grapple with unemployment and poverty levels are so high, Jazza Centre is a life-saver.
How did it all start?
“It began with the birth of our first born child; we needed extra hands to assist us in caring for the baby when we attended to our respective jobs, getting a good knowledgeable domestic manager proved futile,” Joseph opens up about a problem that is common in most households.
“We hired and fired for various reasons including drunkenness, arrogance, not being baby-friendly, stealing, poor communication amongst other reasons,” Joseph explains adding that the last Nanny was fired for reporting from her off-day drunk and that for him was the push he needed to begin Jazza Centre.
Leah, according to Joseph, as a new mother, was at this time beginning to realize how similar her domestic manager troubles were similar to that of her colleagues and chama members.
A conversation between the couple brought them to one realization; there was a huge market gap for affordable trained nannies and all-around domestic managers. They both began researching and putting together their savings with a resolution to fill in the gap.
The centre profiles each employee on the basis of educational background, experience, age, and character. They negotiate with them the salary to expect.
“We decided to deal with high-end homes because they seek quality work and are willing to pay above the minimum stipulated wage,” says Joseph adding that it hence dignifies the field that is marred with stigma.
Which is Your Biggest Financial or Career Loss?
“2018 was not very easy for us in business; we dropped a well rewarding contract half-way because it was short-term to take up one that was long-term but the decision was not timely so we lost both,” Joseph opens up.
“We have however moved on with great lessons and learned to be more confident in our decisions,” Joseph says adding that the lessons also broadened the company’s scope to other greater opportunities.
What is your Secret in making it in entrepreneurship?
“You need to have a very thick skin,” Joseph says adding that for one to survive in the industry they require to be extremely resilient.
“People tend to see the profits, not the sweat and long hours,” Joseph expounds adding that the start is never smooth and that there are challenges that entrepreneurs need to openly talk about to psychologically prepare those joining the path.
Which would you say is your biggest milestone?
“Our milestone is measured in the number of young people whose lives Jazza Centre has changed by giving them an opportunity to grow, to dream and actually work towards their dreams,” Joseph says.
“The thousands of homes we have delivered nannies and domestic managers who have ensured that the couples can work worry-free and the couples who have become family to Jazza Centre because they understand the importance of making a positive difference,” Joseph adds.
Joseph Gichunge was awarded 2018 Sinapis Group’s Impact Award for his contribution to Kenya’s domestic service sector.
Domestic managers, according to Joseph, are in the field for various reasons; save for their college fees, others are underprivileged and lacked the opportunity to attend or clear secondary school and that is their best opportunity, widows and single mothers solely left with the responsibility of raising children.
“There are a number of criminal characters and that is why at Jazza Centre we ensure to have a record of each trainees ‘fingerprints, however, this is in all fields and should never be used to stigmatize good nannies” Joseph warns.
“The market domestic managers are trained for is not trained on how to harmoniously co-exist with them, some bosses have a negative attitude towards them and look down on them, if your family is important then so should be the person caring for it,” Joseph concludes.