How a Kenyan PR tycoon is changing the world's perception of Africa

Gina Din Kariuki is one of the most influential businesswomen in Kenya

She is one of the most influential businesswomen in Kenya with 35 years of experience in the industry.

Her company, Gina Din Group, has helped transform some of the country’s biggest brands, including Safaricom and the Kenya Red Cross, into household names.

The 35-year-old is now on a mission to use PR to shape how the world perceives Africa as well as showcase her continent’s talented youth.

“We are as healthy and confident as the stories we tell ourselves,” she told Ozy magazine in an interview.

Born in Nanyuki, Central Kenya, the daughter of four was not a teacher's favorite in high school.

“Teachers told me I would amount to nothing. So I felt like I had something to prove," recalled Din Kariuki who was a straight D student.

Dream job

She decided to pursue journalism in the UK but had to give up her dream job upon returning to Kenya owing to President Moi's dictatorial regime that suppressed press freedom.

Din Kariuki instead applied for a marketing position at Barclays, and later climbed the ladder taking up senior positions. She was eventually appointed the firm's head of corporate affairs for all of Africa.

It later dawned on her that she was never going to become CEO unless she started her own business.

It was then that she formed founded Gina Din Group, one of the very first PR agencies in the region.

Four years in, she was managing 80 percent of Kenya’s corporate clients, including Safaricom — a small company that would become the country’s biggest mobile provider.

African conversations

A few years later, she had to drop Safaricom as a client, a move that meant forgoing 60 percent of the company’s revenue.

This gave her the leeway to pursue a new cause — shaping African conversations.

“I have discovered so many countries that are beautiful in culture, progressive in solutions, but still largely misinterpreted."

She explains that her intention is not to downplay Africa’s challenges but to highlight Africans’ ability to tackle them.

“Africa’s story must be told by Africans.”

The firm continues to grow thanks to its founder’s personal connections to the continent’s elite, from lauded philanthropists to controversial heads of state.

Likewise, Gina Din Group has won numerous awards at public relations society galas.

In 2013, Din Kariuki was voted among 100 Most Influential Africans by New African Magazine in 2013.

She advises young entrepreneurs to take a lot of risks as success is not easy to come by.

"Be prepared to work hard and take a lot of risks. The work you will do will not always be easy or glamorous. Be patient and tenacious."

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