It was once said that a builder must lay a foundation and this is exactly what Julie Gathoni Sumira Gichuru did. Born to Kenyan parents, the young woman strove for excellence at an early age. One would have taught that a degree in law would be enough to stop Gichuru from pursuing her other dreams but the law was actually the fire that kindled a desire in her to seek a little more than the law could offer. After bagging her degree in Law, Gichuru went ahead and also got herself an MBA from Cardiff Law School and University of Wales respectively by dint of hard work and admirable tenacity.
Julie Gathoni Sumira Gichuru, the lawyer turned journalist is a versatile young woman whose diligence has finally paid off. Gichuru initially worked at Capital FM before moving to television as a reporter and News Anchor at Kenya Television Network which is an arm of The Standard Group. While there, she published the investigative series ‘The Inside Story’ focused on corruption, crime, injustice and inequity in Kenya. She also worked at NTV where she created and produced the popular political debate program ‘Showdown’ hosted in the first season by Mutula Kilonzo and Mirugi Kariuki, and in the second season by Kilemi Mwiria and Billow Kerrow; before taking up a position at Royal Media Services. Julie is currently a TV Host with East Africa’s leading broadcaster Citizen TV. Her prime time news and current affairs show ‘Sunday Live with Julie Gichuru’ airs weekly at 9pm.
She was also the producer and host of ‘The Fourth Estate’, ‘On the Spot’, ‘The People’s Voice’, ‘Voices of Reason’, and she produced and hosted ‘You the Jury’.
Julie Gichuru is best known for being a TV news anchor and group digital business manager at Kenyan media company Royal Media Services. Beyond the glitz and glamour of TV, Gichuru is also a successful entrepreneur, running an online fashion store called Mimi and a production company, Arimus Media. She has been recognised as one of Africa’s most influential women and is also a recipient of the Martin Luther King Salute to Greatness Award.
This woman of excellence believes that Africa has great and amazing potentials that only the optimistic and persistent can reach; in her words, “Africa is undergoing an incredible transformation; I would describe it as the new wind of change sweeping across the continent. While there are many challenges, there are also plenty of opportunities and I do feel it is our responsibility to identify those opportunities and create and build profitable businesses that provide employment opportunities and grow tax revenues. If we as Africans don’t do it then we will find ourselves on the periphery of our own growing economies, as others leverage these opportunities”.
This great entrepreneur has had some challenges in business, but her persistence and hard work has helped her excel greatly in that which she has set her heart and mind to achieve; she once attempted to run a magazine but failed terribly and ended up with a lot of debt that she spent three years trying to pay off, but this did not in any way remove her focus from the big picture, which reminds me of the saying; “When you try to stand and you fall, don’t remain on the ground instead pick something valuable on your way up.” For Julie that something valuable was the idea to start up her fashion store Mimi and production company Arimus media, both of which are thriving.
Her advice to young entrepreneurs is summarised in these five things; “Do your research, invest in areas where you have expertise, take one step at a time, manage your costs and grow your networks”.
Julie and her loving husband Anthony Gichuru are the founders of The Footprints Africa Foundation, which was established to help empower and grow healthy, dignified and informed societies in the region. They also support The Great Debaters Contest and the African Leadership Dialogue; the platforms where young people discuss and exchange ideas on the challenges of Africa and their solutions.
She says Africans have to rise up to their responsibility as the prospects and opportunities in our dear continent are enormous, “I do believe it is Africa’s time and I see the growth and the opportunities. My greatest fear is that Africans will not benefit if they do not stand up and take charge of their destiny by starting strong indigenous African companies and brands. My greatest hope is that we can have the courage and vision to seize the moment and create a new narrative for Africa.”
To this exceptional entrepreneur one thing is most needful and requires all hands to be on deck, “We have a responsibility to nurture and grow the younger generation and our primary role is vested in the family unit. One of our greatest responsibilities is to mentor and teach generations.”
Julie is a UNICEF ambassador on a Baby Banda campaign that teaches women about breastfeeding. As expected, the ambassador sure lives by examples, she says “I remember breastfeeding my two babies once in a doctor’s waiting room with women looking at me oddly before asking the doctor if that was normal! My mother kept asking me why I was still breastfeeding my son Kimoshe at four. I had to remind her that it was my baby and it was my house.”
The pretty entrepreneur is married to the man of her dreams, who supports her all the way and they have four beautiful children. Let me tell you something really funny you don’t know about Julie, she loves cartoons!