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The mandazis I didn’t cook to work for Nailab…

What exactly is your role at Nailab?

I have had several roles. I joined Nailab as an intern for 3 months, I came in to do mobilization for one of our programs called The Next Economy. Get us enough applications and go! That was it. I was then offered an extension of 3 months also to do mobilization for the Africa Netpreneur Prize, this is the biggest project that I have ever done because I was mobilizing across the continent. After that, I was offered a job as a Communications Assistant and my major role is digital communication.

How did you end up at a Nailab?

It’s a funny story, I graduated in November 2018. When I started the year I had no idea what I was going to do with my life, I remember during our Christmas family gathering when everyone, as a tradition, talks about their next years goals, everyone had “big goals” for 2019, I had nothing to say, I had no hope for 2019, so when my cousin sent me a job application via WhatsApp and told me to apply, I just applied and waited, I did not know about Nailab before that, a week later I was called for an interview and two days later I got a call to start the job.

What was your immediate reaction when you saw your bosses comment on twitter?

I was shocked! His opinion was that “Sometimes interns have to sell mandazis or take Mshwari loans to facilitate their transport to their places of work”. I was the only intern at Nailab at the time and I felt I was working for a boss who didn’t value young graduates in desperate need of a platform to learn and establish themselves in the job market.

Did he ever attempt to speak to you and explain his point of view?

Yes he did. While all this was going on, he called me for a talk in his office and he asked me how this whole situation was affecting me. After I expressed how I felt, I have to say candidly, he also took the time to explain to me where he was coming from and while I heard him, I can’t say for sure I understood him. He made a very compelling argument that the world owes you nothing and no one should walk around expecting anything from anyone. “Other than looking for an internship in a place that pays you, it’s more important to be somewhere that adds true value to you as a person and to your career, that is more important than the money,” he said.

You have been at Nailab for 11 months now, how many Mandazis did you have to sell to make it through your internship?

Hahaha… well, I have never had to sell mandazis to get bus fare to work. Let me set the record straight, Nailab pays interns. I can confirm this because I receive my salary every month on time. Beyond my salary, however, I have been given extraordinary opportunities that have transformed my outlook on life. For example, I boarded a plane for the very first time while at Nailab. I was shocked when the company booked me into a luxury hotel just like every other employee during a work trip in Mombasa. In fact, every time we go for a business trip, I always have a taxi to pick me from my house and drop me off at the airport or the train station. My experience at Nailab has been incredible.

Did it ever occur to you to react and set the record straight?

All the time but I couldn’t. I asked Mr Gichuru severely to let me share my truth but he said no. Mostly because this is an issue that he wouldn’t want to re-visit. I did write an article though telling my truth. However, the article could not be published in any of the company’s assets.

What are your final words?

Last week I was part of the team that sent 20 of Nailab entrepreneurs to Rwanda for the Kusi Festival 2019, an all expense paid trip to just learn and network. That is the kind of impact that Nailab brings to people’s lives. The first-class humane treatment I have received despite my internship status at Nailab compels me to admit that I jumped the gun to misinterpret what our CEO meant regarding paying interns. Just like everyone else on twitter all those months ago, I imagine.

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Nailab is an accelerator that offers a “Launch out” program for entrepreneurs and “Launch in” program for those seeking employability.

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