Continuing my series of leadership interviews, I decided to sit down with Scolastica Mbula to talk about her history with New Hope Initiative and get her thoughts on leadership. Scola (as we call her) is the Co-Director of our business co-op, Project Biashara. In her role as Co-Director, she oversees the business functions of the project i.e. payroll, daily operations. She also leads our seamstresses. I have enjoyed working with Scola. She is dependable, honest and hard-working. I can always count on Scola.
Q: How long have you been involved with New Hope and how were you first involved?
I have been involved with New Hope since 2009 when Project Biashara was started by Karen. At the time, I had my own business selling vegetables and other merchandize in Kibera. When Karen started the project she helped us by giving us all loans to start and invest in our businesses and training us in business practices to help us be successful. She also helped me purchase my first sewing machine. I was skilled in sewing and thought I could make a living doing that but did not have a machine. With the help of Project Biashara, I could turn my business into a tailoring business.
Q: Tell us about your family.
I am married and have 4 children, ages 16, 14, 12, & 6. We all live together in Kibera – the Sri Langa area. I’ve lived in Kibera since 1996.
Q: What do you like most about working for Project Biashara?
Interacting with the women; getting to know each other; doing our work together.
Q: How did you become a seamstress?
In early 1996, I went to Polytechnic College and took a tailoring class to learn to sew. I ran my own tailoring business for a while. Then, Project Biashara became a co-op, and we now make orders such as bags, scarves, table runners and napkins for women in the US.
Q: How do you define leadership?
A leader comes from the Lord. As a leader you have to be an example to others. A leader is somebody who knows God and is willing to serve others.
Q: Who has been the most influential leader in your life and why?
Karen, because of her love and care for everyone around her. And, she’s good.
Lauren because of the way she leads us and does her work. Someone can learn from her.
Q: What are your hopes and dreams for Project Biashara?
My dream is seeing Project Biashara open many branches in other slum areas of Nairobi. Something like the project here. So, more women can be helped.
Q: Anything else you want to tell my blog readers?
Just want to thank the people who stand with Project Biashara. Your help and work is not in vain. God sees everything you do. When you stand with us, God will stand with you. Never cease giving to needy people. We are learning from Lauren and soon will be helping others as you have helped us.
Scola took a computer class last summer paid for by Project Biashara and learned Excel. Here she is working on April payroll.