Born and raised in Blantyre, 27-year-old Mwaishah Kampesi, an architect and interior designer running her own business recently made the Forbes Africa under 30 list for 2017.
Forbes Africa released this year’s edition of its illustrious list of 30 people which identifies the most successful and promising African entrepreneurs under the age of 30, who are building empires, creating jobs and transforming Africa, according to Mwaishah.
She says this is a list of young people who are game changers, fighting for financial freedom and promising to be billionaires of tomorrow.
Mwaishah started her entrepreneurship journey a few years back, with In-House interiors- a design consultancy covering all architectural work stages of the project life cycle from floor designing, interior designing and space plan layout; construction as well as project management.
“We also do interior space accessories’ design and manufacturing furniture, side lamps and wall hangings. This is a line we call In-House ‘katundu’. It is a customised boutique for space accessories that compliments In-House Interiors. We have furniture and space accessories for local clients and export. We have sold to South Africa, Zambia, Nigeria and Mozambique,” she says.
The entrepreneur says even people outside Africa appreciate the accessories they make, as lately they have been exporting to Europe.
“Our best selling product from the boutique is the side lamp, made from recycled wine bottles and local cloth from Malawi – ‘chitenje’. The fusion of modern touch and the African aspect is what sets it apart.
“We also sell imported furniture and décor accessories and I currently employ a total of 25 people comprising 18 local hand skilled women under In-House ‘katundu’ and six professionals under In-House interiors,” says the proprietor.
Each year Forbes Africa Magazine gets thousands of nominations of young entrepreneurs from across the continent. Only 30 make the list and Mwaishah went through the same process.
“I got an email from Forbes one day telling me that I have been nominated. I didn’t believe it. I remember sending it to my sister and one of my close friends saying look what got into my mail. And I remember my friend telling me it was spam and that I should ignore it; so I did.
“Days later, I decided to respond to the email from Forbes and they wrote back with a long questionnaire enquiring about my business. They requested for copies of my identification to verify my age, financial statements and they spoke to my competitors and my past colleagues to understand my character and business ethic,” she explains.
Mwaishah does not hide her joy and says making the Forbes under 30 list was humbling.
“When it comes to business magazine and platform, it doesn’t get better than Forbes. I am getting a lot of congratulatory emails, texts and calls from friends and colleagues. x
“It’s definitely a humbling experience. It will create a lot of opportunities for me. This is not a mean achievement. I am grateful and thank God I have hit this milestone in my life. I take it as the beginning of real entrepreneurship,” she points out.
Her father Juao Kampesi is also an entrepreneur and she asserts that he created the entrepreneurship monster in her.
Studying architecture and interior designing was just a gate way to starting In-House Interiors and In-House ‘katundu’. Naturally, the young woman loves decorating and designing and she decided to make money off her passion.
“I started designing furniture at a very young age in high school, but for my own use. When people asked, I would make and sell to them,” she adds.
Mwaishah regrets however, that over the years, companies have gotten used to hiring international decorators for their office spaces and as such, convincing them that it can be done by locals is a challenge.
Says she: “When I walk into meeting rooms, I constantly face skepticism from big organisations because I am young until I prove myself capable and