My name is Niti Shroff, and I am in multiple businesses with my husband, Manoj Shroff. My journey begun in 1996 with a small IT trading business selling computers and accessories in Kenya and Dubai. For the past 14 years, we focused solely on growing our IT business with our stock reaching international distribution levels and our physical reach transcending boundaries into multiple countries. In 2010, I made a decision to hire a team of professionals and delegated most of my responsibilities to them. This allowed me to focus in other segments of our enterprise. In 2011, we created our own brand, called cursor technologies. Our products included Mobiles & IT accessories. Within two years of utter hard work, our brand was established in most parts of the world. In 2013, we started our furniture business called sky superstore, our medical line called Jupiter Pharmacy and we began constructing our own Hotel called La Maison Royale. This year, we bought another hotel in USA called Comfort Inn and Suites. These achievements would not have been possible without the support of my mother-in-law, children (my daughter Manoj Shroff has been very supportive) my husband - for his constant guidance and my financial partner, Gulf African Bank.
I had not always planned to work in business and majorly, the IT industry. I just came across this line of business when I was looking for a good business to do. When I started it and realized it was a good sector, I became very passionate about it. To date, I work 14 hours a day. I wake up at 7.00am, take breakfast then proceed to the gym till 9.30am. Afterwards, I go to the office from 10.00am to 8.00pm.
In as much there are few women tech entrepreneurs, I believe it is easy for them to succeed in the fields they choose. Any woman can be successful in this business if she is dedicated and has excellent organizational skills. Most women fear technology that is why we are few in this industry. In addition, it is demanding in terms of time and energy to women beginning the tech journey only to throw in the buck later.
In 2015, Women in Stem Award named me the Best Entrepreneur of the year. This stands as one of my greatest achievement this far. The accolade has boosted my overall confidence as a business woman and encouraged me to do more in business and community. It also helped me establish more networks with suppliers and business clients. As a business owner, I’ am in charge of a big team. As such, I believe in entrepreneurial leadership, where I listen to multiple views of my employees and give feedback when necessary. I also lead by example. I first try out the work, find of achieving optimally and then proceed to teach my employees. I make sure I guide my employees until they are confident with it. I also make sure to monitor what they are doing and if they are going it right.
My husband remains my greatest role model because he is a very successful man. I have always followed his advice and strived to adapt his tried and tested business principles which have helped me achieve this magnitude of success. My key to success has been entrenched in dedication – 100 % dedication, Good management skills and Passion for my business.
It is my belief that as a woman, you have to strike a balance between work and family. If you don’t do so, you are bound to fail on all these three areas – as a wife, woman and entrepreneur. Getting the right financial partner will also determine whether your business will succeed or fail. I will always commend Gulf African Bank for opening doors for women entrepreneurs like myself and recommend it to anyone. I consider myself one of Gulf African Bank’s success stories. I view them as critical partners for my business because they have a core understanding of my needs as an entrepreneur and they have made numerous interventions along the way that have helped NITI Group grow to the strong conglomerate it is today. I partly get my push from knowing that they have our best interests at heart. I say this because as a cross-border entrepreneur, I ‘am aware that many women in business remain underserved by financial institutions due to constraints like collateral for financing facilities, which Gulf African Bank takes care of through chattels. To date, all Gulf African Bank Annisaa account holders get varying discounts when they purchase IT equipment from NITI Distributors, Sky stores furniture or visit La Maison Royale Hotel in Westlands.
Women are intelligent and have great business ideas. One just needs to develop good time management and organizational skills. Use these skills to be an entrepreneur as well as a wonderful wife and mother. Be passionate about what you do. Be committed. It is possible for a woman to be immensely successful in business if they believe in themselves. The business environment in Kenya is very enabling. Kenyans are very friendly, open minded and business oriented with the government being very supportive.
Ladies, as you go about your endevours, remember Hillary Clinton’s wise words; that there is no path leading forward that does not include the empowerment of women.