#TFAASPOTLIGHT: Barclay, raising the ‘Bar’ by moulding businesses with intellectual ‘Clay’ to solve problems in Africa

Barclay Okari is a young entrepreneur from Kenya that is passionate about building businesses around the challenges faced in Africa and has found opportunities that would address this multitudes of issues, which includes solving the challenge of affordable and available sanitary towels to women at the grass root.

This led him to establish Impact Africa Industries Ltd.- Manufacturers of “Safi Pads”- providing inexpensive, reusable, washable sanitary towels for women. 

At the age of 19, in the year 2011; Barclay created his company to solve a particular problem besetting many girls in Kenya’s rural communities. While volunteering for a teaching job at a girl’s school in Narok, a small town in South-Western Kenya. He observed that a great number of girls were missing classes due to their monthly periods as they could not afford sanitary pads. It then dawned on him that he could create an affordable product that can greatly benefit girls and women in rural Kenya. 

He took a loan of $1,500 from his parents and coupled with his savings set out to develop “Safi Pads,” an affordable, washable and reusable sanitary towel. It turned out that here was a market for this product. In order to expand his business, he went in search of alternative funding and won the Anzisha Prize grant and further received $18,000 in additional funding from Higher Circle Silicon Valley, which gave awareness to his company and product. Impact Africa Industries, has sold and distributed to more than 1 million of these pads across Rwanda, Uganda, Nigeria East Africa,with Kenya being the biggest market.His reusable sanitary towels has saved a large percentage of families budgets and makes the lives of many of customers more enjoyable in the process.

Barclay is a serial entrepreneur as he currently serves as the Co-founder of “FinAccess Global LLC”; a financial technology company that builds core banking tools for microfinance institutions. Founder of “Kopa Credit”- providing credit scores to millions of unbanked people in emerging markets. He also authored the book “Marketplace” which gives startup’s advice on how to navigate the early days of running a company.

He had built two businesses in the past “Skype Science”- a science video sharing site for young people to share ideas and knowledge through videos and “Marketplace Ltd.” an e-commerce platform. A Finance graduate from the University of Nairobi. Barclay has inspired youths to Dream, Dare and Act. 

What more do we know about Barclay?

  1. He made the Forbes’ 30 under 30 Most Promising Entrepreneurs in Africa (2016, 2015 and 2014) and a global shaper at the World Economic Forum (Nairobi).
  2. In 2015, he was a Young Business Leader of the Year 2015 Finalist, by the All Africa Business Leaders Awards (AABLA),
  3. He was part of the 7 Inspiring Entrepreneurs to Watch Globally by the United Nations Foundation,
  4. He was nominated as (Young Person of the Year Africa) by the Future Awards Africa
  5. In 2014, he made the Top 40 Under 40 Men in Kenya by Business Daily.
  6. He was part of MTV Voices 20’s changing the world,
  7. He was one of the remarkable 25 under 25 Young African Entrepreneurs,
  8. In 2013, he was listed as (Under 35 CEO) Young Social Entrepreneur to Watch by Spark Fellow
  9. The winner of Anzisha Prize for the African Oscars for Young Entrepreneurs.

In the words of Barclay,

“There is no specific way or pattern to become a successful entrepreneur. You just have to fathom yourself, take the risk, learn from mistakes and enjoy the success when it comes.”

According to Barclay, “No day is the same as last. Every morning we wake up to a different challenge which makes life full of fun. Also, the biggest misconception is that entrepreneurship is easy but the truth is that it is made up of so many sleepless nights, work, work and work and the enthusiasm to reach where you are going. I believe in putting in many hours, doing the dirty work.” 

Barclay is the future.


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