Boardroom Banter the Podcast from Africa – Interview with Yuri Coret, Boniface B. Omina & Sean Karanja – The Team behind the scenes


Boardroom Banter the Podcast from Africa - Interview with Yuri Coret, Boniface B. Omina & Sean Karanja - The Team behind the scenes on Siloi.NET

Foreword

On a bright warm sunny humid day like this one here in the tropical island of Mauritius, after lunch time, sometime ago, where you can feel the heat that is above 30° Celsius, and the narrow side lanes of urban residential blocks around Port-Louis are quiet. I would open the yards gate, cross the street and check what my friend Alain is up to. We would then figure out something that we will play with. Let’s build a kite, would be one of many projects we engage into. Get some old newspaper, pull some sticks out from the coconut broom, get some cooked rice from the rice cooker to be used as glue, some polyester sewing thread and we were set with the basic materials required to build a kite. Alain knew how to build it, and they would always fly. It required some skills. For example the kite would need to have parallels that more or less are of the same sizes, and when attaching the string you would need to know how to balance the kite and know where to attach it. Alain used no ruler. His approximations would be good enough. In hindsight, later on, I can look back that it was an interesting example of how perfect can be the enemy of good enough. When I started to build my own kites, use rulers, measure everything up, none of my kites flew, it took me several months of trying until I figured out that it had something to do with the balancing. I realized this when at night I would visualize and go through all the processes of making the kite, where I could be making a mistake and what I need to try differently. Finally I started to build kites that would fly. I was glad that i hadn’t given up. Just like back then when we kids were running around on the streets and trying to whistle with our fingers, it took me one month to learn it! Lessons of persistence. Keep trying until you make it, and not to give up. Funny how in adult life, for various experiences including entrepreneurship I would have forgotten about this and give up. I had to relearn from motivational speakers on learning from failures. Back then, it was unthinkable of, that we would someday hold a screen in our hands with high computational power, yet alone in colour and with the ability to speak to anyone world wide and share our thoughts. Something that can be carried around anywhere, that just connects to the internet in the air, no cable required, with multimedia functions like cameras etc. Our TV set would only be switched on in the late evening, there was only 1 TV channel which would start at 17:00 o’clock and stop at midnight. Similarly there was only 1 radio channel. Colour TVs and video players were a sensation. People who had these sets, would rent VHS video cassettes and invite people over to watch a movie. TV shows that we kids adored were Air Wolf which was about a super helicopter, Knight Rider which was about a super car and Tonnerre Mécanique which was about a …super bike! We would run outside and imitate the sounds of these shows. In our fantasies and imaginations we wished we could fly or drive these machines. I never thought about running my own TV channel, radio channel and even less about entrepreneurship. These were the unknowns, things you didn’t know about. Like the “You don’t know what you don’t know” kind of things. What we knew were a few professions. We would say things like I would like to be a pilot someday when I grow up, because it means you can fly a cool airplane. Our thoughts would dwindle around concepts that we know of and relate to the environment we were growing up in. Parents, family and friends would be playing a very important role as transmitter of information. Access to books was sparse and there wouldn’t be any documentaries to watch on TV to learn from. That would come gradually later.

Later on, even in high school, the notion of entrepreneurship was not a given, and something rather unknown. The idea to run your own business sounded too risky. We wouldn’t be inculcated this kind of wisdom. Even though I had the subjects of business theory and accounting, where we would for example study business use cases of where it is best to setup a factory, like in which location of a town and why, the idea of starting your own small business was so far fetched unthinkable of! It was so abstract and distant this business subject, like it would very unlikely turn any of us learning about business into entrepreneurs of the future. This was not going to be instilled on us, this kind of creativity. We were being molded to become employees of the future. To speak of money, or sell something to someone and ask for money was for many a scary thing to do. Yes, the relationship and responsibility over the management of money, we didn’t learn about it in high school, neither later on in other institutions, it remained something of a scary taboo. Like the book Rich Dad Poor Dad says, we were learning the stay poor mindset in relationship to the handling of the money commodity. So, what happened to me, that I didn’t end up as an employee? This is another story for another day. I broke off the system and went another route that led me to learn all these skills the hard way through pains and failures.

Fast forward into the future. We are now, believe it or not, in the futuristic, nearly Utopian sounding year of 2022! We have these devices called smart phones. Multimedia handheld devices with a lot of functions à portée de main – which means within a hand reach, and a few finger movements on your phone, you can be engaging in various forms of communications and transactions. Within a few minutes, you can setup your own kind of “TV channel” or “Radio channel”. Let that sink in, your own channel, on various platforms with access to the world. This is a kind of tool that would have been unthinkable of, yet alone the low barrier of entry and with very low setting up costs (you need to buy the smart phone for e.g) you can simply get started on social media. Become aware of the tool, and what you can do with it. Accessibility to information made easy. So, if anyone can do it, it means there is competition to access the world, the markets, the niches, groups of people etc. If anyone can be their own channel of expression, there can be billions of accounts of channels. Why would someone want to watch or listen to my channel? I would answer this question by bringing something that has value, value and meaning to someone, solutions to problems etc. There are of course many other ways to answer this, like for example I could say that the value I bring on the table is that I film my activity of producing health drinks, which others watching it find it as an entertaining form of value to consume. How to stand out? There are different mechanisms that make you stand out in social media. Then there is marketing, your brand and channel, you can pay to increase your reach. It can create a sort of momentum, more followers generate more followers through sharing your content. Let’s stick with the value. Some years ago, I started to listen to some podcasts like Farnam Street. I would use an app, subscribe to the channel and find great value in their discussion and interviews of interesting personalities. Personalities I wouldn’t have access to here in Mauritius yet alone to meet in person. Meaning with the podcasts, similar to books, I could get to hear and learn how they think. It would influence me in a great way! People on social media who bring value and have a large following base are called influencers! There are many podcasts out there. Like really a lot covering nearly ever theme you can think of, from mental health to entrepreneurship and so on. I wouldn’t go on a podcast app and look for podcasts. Podcasts would usually find me in some way. Through recommendations. Here is how this can happen. I follow Alicia on Twitter, she is smart, I like the way she thinks and the way she words her tweets, this then on social media makes her have a form of authority, meaning if I see her recommend something, like a podcast, chances are that I will like the content as I know Alicia liked it. This is how I found out about Farnam Street, as she regularly retweeted podcasts she had listened about them.

I know Yuri, I met him in person, and we have had conversations several times. I like the projects he does, and in addition to being a student at ALU (African Leadership University), he is also a DJ, part of an organization that runs events and also part of a team that runs a podcast. Yuri and his team mates do so many more things that I cannot list here, you’ll discover more as the stories unfold. This is how I found out about his podcast, in person. Not through social media or any form of online marketing. Today I am recommending to you their podcast Boardroom Banter for listening. And the content that follows will be an in depth interview of the team of Boardroom Banter. We know that there are many podcasts out there. Find out what makes them stand out, what makes them different! Like; How about discovering more about the ins and outs of running and managing a podcast. Let’s get to know the different walk of life’s of the Boardroom Banter team. What is the essence, the mind, the spirit, that brings it all together to make it work. They are all in their early twenties, running a very serious podcast with gold nuggets of content. In this introduction above, I mentioned that I couldn’t have imagined in my youth to run my own radio & tv show someday. The tools weren’t there and we were limited by concepts that would limit our creativity into believing that we can build great things – like to turn the abstract into realities! I am glad to see this happening on the African continent! Let’s dive in!

Interview with Boardroom Banter on Siloi.NET

1. How did the podcast begin?

As young leaders of our generation we have been privileged enough to learn and grow under the tutelage of incredible mentors, who have had an immense impact on our trajectory as high achievers. They have and still are investing time, money and value in aiding us reach our full potential. We have learned how to build professional relationships, communicate for impact, take control of our public image and lead ourselves through challenges on our road to success.

With this understanding followed that of the unique responsibility that rested on our shoulders to share these valuable gems of knowledge with the communities around us. We have peers and colleagues navigating similar hurdles, searching for blueprints on how to move from zero to one. A sneak peek into the boardroom would allow them insight into the trade secrets of experts in different fields and industries. Thus, the Boardroom Banter Podcast was born. An international platform that gives listeners a fun peak at life inside the boardrooms of different industry experts- young and older, corporate and commercial- whilst amplifying the stories of these great doers and dreamers of the world.

2. What is the Mission and Vision Statement of Boardroom Banter?

Vision Statement: We seek to build a powerful network and develop a digital library of 1000 unique conversations geared towards enriching the lives of our listeners. 

Mission Statement: We are on a quest to discover extraordinary “doers” and amplify their impact through conversations. 

3. What were some of the challenges that you came across into bringing this podcast into existence? What were your doubts and fears? Did you reach any point where you were close into giving up the launch? What would you say helped you into persevering and not giving up? You all come from different backgrounds, what would you say from your individual walks of life is that driving force that lets you pull through?

As with any creative endeavor, the most challenging part is actually STARTING. It is easy to procrastinate something when there is no one holding you accountable or expectations are low. All three of us have always spoken about launching a podcast before we even came together. We see our journeys as young leaders and entrepreneurs as a blueprint for others to learn from, both our failures as individuals and successes. With the podcast, there were initial doubts as to how it will be received as we hadn’t clearly defined who our specific target audience is. We are very vocal to our audience about the fact that we are also trying to figure out the direction our podcast is heading. And that’s not to say that we don’t have a plan, but we are entrepreneurs before anything else and understand that there is a lot of iteration that comes with the design process incorporated in building something that is of value. 

We invest very heavily in building our individual skills as founders of the podcast, whether it’s conversational skills, project management, emotional intelligence and networking skills. Various tenets of emotional intelligence such as self-awareness, awareness of others and positive influence help us to collaborate and coordinate with each other on work and deliverables. However, the greatest driving force that push us forward each week is the understanding that our work is adding value to us as young leaders and entrepreneurs as well as the numerous listeners who tune in to listen to us each week.

Yuri DJaying and Boniface the Local Noisemaker hosting events for THE OMIAN PROJECT

4. Would you say that it is easy to launch a podcast? Like could anyone just record on their mobile phone an hour of talking on a subject and upload it into the podcast sphere? What sets your podcast apart from other podcasts?

The podcast industry is very saturated with numerous creators so carving  a niche is what differentiates the success of one and failure of the other. There is very little barrier of entry- with the current technology and platforms available anyone with internet access and a smartphone or laptop can launch their podcast. The nuances come with certain hardware equipment that boost sound quality such as microphones and software equipment to record, edit and publish episodes. There is affordable basic equipment that can be bought for under $50 (we borrowed microphones from friends when we initially started haha) and software such as Audacity are open-source so anyone can download it at no cost and learn to use it with simple YouTube tutorials. 

Although this simple structure would suffice, in order to create a competitive brand as a podcast you have to think outside of the box and be creative with your approach. Depending on the type of podcast you run and genre you feature in- how you market your content to listeners, drive engagement on your listening and social platforms and, most importantly, leverage your social capital as an individual(s) will contribute to how successful your podcast becomes. Some of our favorite podcast creators incorporate a visual aspect to their work with video uploads of their episodes on YouTube and that is one of the things we are looking to kick off very soon.

Our own podcast sets itself apart in a number of ways. With a captivating name such as Boardroom Banter, we draw parallels between the lives of successful professionals and youngsters such as ourselves who are on the journey there through fun, funny and exciting conversations. Our Tuesday episodes feature conversations with guests from all around the world who have amassed significant success in their own rights. We have conversations on their life journeys, associated topics in line with their career, current events and global news. We wrap up the week with Founders Friday episodes which feature our experiences as the founders, challenges we’re facing navigating our paths, recaps of guest episodes, current events and topics that make for interesting conversations. We believe that we are yet to tap into the full potential of our platform and will definitely be playing around with different segments as we continue to grow.

5. There is this saying that You’re The Average Of The Five People You Surround Yourself With. 
This is about influence. Getting access to information, thus podcasts, videos like on youtube + books one can select areas of information of which they would like to be influenced by and grow from. Just like you can make books sort of your friend
s. You can read books of great leaders that aren’t here anymore and be influenced.
Something (books) a few decades ago was not so easily accessible, especially in Africa. I remember from my own child
hood that even access to books was very sparse. How would you like to influence your audience? Is your niche audience primarily in Africa? Do you have means to track from where your listeners come from?
I’ll add something visual to this in words. Let’s say you have this kid in a village where there is no library, no post office to order books online just access to internet via a smart phone which is a reality we have seen in many places and which has allowed apps like Mpes
a to work (even works on older legacy mobile phones via sms) . This kid can have access to a vast amount of information. This kid could listen to your podcast, it might say, hey these guys are delivering me the nuggets I can learn from. How will this kid know about your podcast? If it has access to the internet, it needs to spot you somewhere. How could you get this kid’s attention for a moment to come to listen to your podcasts?
Since you are students at ALU, you will definitely not adhere to the philosophy of keeping a status quo, but more that of progress to improve quality of life etc. What would you like to set into motion in this kid? Increase self esteem? Believe you can make it, get the ball rolling, and build something and if you fail, do not give up and try again?

We would like to give our audience an understanding of how imperfect, angled and unpredictable the journey to success is. As young people, it is easy to look at successful business people, artists, sportsmen and women, musicians, politicians etc. and fail to grasp how simple it can be to follow in their footsteps. We seek to break down exactly what it means to move from dreamer to doer, before and after, wanna-be to becoming a leader in your industry. Hence the reason why we bring on guests from all walks of life from all over the world. Our platform is global and so is our audience. We are currently attracting consistent listeners from 35 different countries, a majority of them from Kenya, Mauritius, the United States and the United Kingdom. Our main listeners are young adults between the ages of 18 and 27 years old, the same bracket that we fall in. All of us are at the crossroads of making crucial career and life decisions and if we can be each other’s focal point at this stage of our lives then it makes for a greater impact story. We don’t have everything figured out and that’s okay.

6. What kind of enterprises do you dream of setting up as entrepreneurs in the future?

As the founders of the podcast, we are different in many ways with regards to motivations and background- but conveniently similar in the value we wish to create in the world.  Our profiles above reflect past experiences and ventures we have been able to build and scale (or otherwise) but also demonstrates the potential that we each have individually achieved more and deliver products/ services to African markets. From professional development and financial literacy programs (Sean), increasing access to clean water in underdeveloped areas (Yuri) or designing multicultural event experiences (Omina)- the enterprises we aim to create will focus on equipping  Africans  with the tools, skills and networks to create and sustain wealth for the continent.

Sean Karanja

7. You have raised a great point regarding the various tenets of emotional intelligence such as self-awareness. How do you make sure that you do not burn out and keep good mental health? Now in your early twenties, full of energy, it is easy to get carried away by becoming a workaholic and neglecting a good life balance. It’s really easier said than done once you have that drive to work excessively hard and cannot stop thinking about your projects at night. What’s your strategy here to stay sane?

We are surrounded by an incredible support system of friends, family and mentors who keep us firmly grounded in the ‘now’. For big dreamers, it is at times possible to focus too much on the future and not spend enough time appreciating various stages of the journey to get there. This can also lead to over-exertion on workload resulting in negative mental, social and psychological effects. We spend as much time unwinding and having fun as we do working (Hint: we’re college students living on a tropical island wink wink *-) and this compounds into productive output in our overall goals.

8. “As young people, it is easy to look at successful business people, artists, sportsmen and women, musicians, politicians etc. and fail to grasp how simple it can be to follow in their footsteps.” How do you guys discipline yourself in order to make it, that is how do you stay disciplined? Discipline brings results. This is important.

Our individual journeys with discipline trace back to our foundation in mentorship early in high school and our dedication to the ventures we have run in the past. A perfect combination of will, passion and an acute understanding of self has contributed to our ability to consistently deliver results project to project and build discipline. This discipline that we each came with to the podcast has been regularly reaffirmed through recognizing that our work can and is changing lives, and that the world needs us to keep on doing that.

9. What can you say about youth unemployment? How do you want or see Boardroom Banter helping unemployed youth? Do you have a message of hope for them?

Youth unemployment is a multi-faceted issue that manifests itself in different ways depending on the country you are in. For instance, the indicators of youth unemployment in Mauritius vary in comparison to those in Kenya, Nigeria or the United States. Regardless, some elements do tie back to contributing factors in the education system, capacity building and professional development programs and government policies. At Boardroom Banter we understand how difficult it would be to address solutions for these factors in each country and instead work towards creating a platform that allows its young listeners to develop a global perspective to challenges such as youth unemployment. Rest assured we are thinking through ways in which this can be taken a step further towards equipping and empowering our listeners with the skills and tools to actualize needed change.

Boniface at the Young Entrepreneurs Training

10. How does the team, that is members of Boardroom Banter, cope with rejection? In your podcast venture, and looking at your BIOs, you guys have already gained experience in quite diverse business avenues. You will certainly come and have come across various forms of disappointment, rejections, things didn’t work out as expected, get taken advantage of, ripped off, scammed, you get the picture. Like contacting potential prospects for interviewing and these say No is a form of rejection. Obviously the adage to keep grinding, to stand back up from failures and to keep going applies, theoretically, this would be a form of the answer, many of us know that, some don’t yet, what I would like you to share is something else on top of this; like do you have a certain formula, mental models, something of a tradition or method that you apply when you face rejection that helps you keep going? How do you avoid taking it too personally so that it doesn’t prevent you from moving on? How to let go? What would you tell, to someone who is just getting started, just finished school and is a bit scared to start their own project. Something I remember in my early twenties, when I started running my own projects, from other friends perspectives and feedbacks, is that they were scared, and deeply influenced by the opinion of others, especially those who wouldn’t ever launch a company on their own, they would be brought down to these levels and dissuaded, and many fell for that and gave up… My parents were totally frightened of my high risk life style of going all in on anything I felt I wanted to launch and setup…

Rejection is part of the deal, as if failure. We hear tons of stories of people who heard ‘x’ number of NOs before getting their big break or securing that crucial investor. The value of hearing such stories is that one can lean into the lessons and experiences of others who have gone ahead and shifted their perspective on their current challenges. We have continuously rested our confidence in the belief that our mission has meaning, regardless of anyone else’s opinion. When in doubt or unsure of what to do next, we turn to our mentors and seek counsel. When we feel ourselves bending under the pressure, we take a step back and lean on each other for support. 

This isn’t to say that rejections don’t affect us. Quite the contrary. It affects us even more because we are high achievers with a track record of winning BIG. It is for this reason that we understand the losses can also be BIG and it’s important to find the best ways to take a hit, step back and take another shot at it. At times it works out well and we’re on to the next try. Other times it takes a bit longer to get up and that’s alright. Life is full of the highs and lows and that’s what makes it worth living.

Yuri’s water borehole rehabilitation projects with Davis & Shirtliff impacting over 6000 primary school students residing from two slums in Nairobi, Kenya.

11. What do you like about Mauritius and why did you choose to study here? How do you see Mauritius’ future?

I think we can all agree that our school was the biggest factor that attracted us here. We interact with students from other universities on the island and they’re great. However, when you step into ALU you can feel a feeling of community in everyone. This could be credited to the fact that we all live and study on the same tight-knit campus with all activities being centered around the unique cultures represented among us. 

Mauritius is a small island with a rich culture in and of itself, but it is very disconnected from the history and modernity of the rest of the continent. We therefore find safety and familiarity with the ‘piece of home’ that we find within the international African community that we frequently gather in. It accounts to the interactions that we (ALU) have with students from Middlesex or UoM. It accounts to how loudly we scream ‘Yeboooo’ at our parties and how we rally together in support. 

Mauritius has an incredible reputation of welcoming people from all around the world and making sure they feel at home. I guess what we would like to see more of is the same effort in welcoming being put in reaching out and learning about African culture- in its music, art and fashion.

How to Think Outside the Triangle | Sean Karanja | TEDxYouth@AKAMombasa

12. How can Mauritius bridge its connection more to the African continent?   The African Leadership University is a great example that has led to African cultural exchange and the possibility for Mauritians to get to know, collaborate and work with Africans. This was rarely the case a decade ago. I made connections with Kenyans, Nigerians, Ghanaians and people from other countries of the continent, usually more abroad like in Germany and France. It is only recently, with the ALU campus being here in the north of Mauritius that I have made new connections and friendships with persons from the continent. It even gave me the occasion to go for a visit and discover Kenya. This is an interesting new dynamic exchange for Mauritius and the continent. How can we improve and strengthen those ties – not just commercially but also on a personal level?
There is, if you have noticed quite a disconnec
t between Mauritius and the continent. This includes persons who have ancestry to the continent, though we could say, the umbilical cord to the motherland has been severed several hundred years ago…
While the b
usiness sector might be navigating on how to invest into the continent and is already carrying out certain activities, a large part of the Mauritian population has no sensation, feeling of or thoughts of being connected to the African continent. We are a lonely  island, located very far from any continents so you can imagine how this shapes people’s perceptions.. To be “part of” is also a concept, it can be learnt or unlearned, lost…

Wow! We alluded to this in the previous section haha. 
What Mauritius needs to do to bridge the disconnect is rally the youth around such a mission. Young people drive culture. Whether in Mauritius, Nigeria, Kenya or South Africa. There is already a buzzing community of youth from all across the continent living and studying on the island, but how often do we witness their culture represented? How many clubs play their music on a regular? How many initiatives are tailored to their need to feel a semblance of home? 

You are very correct, the business sector is navigating ways in investing in the rest of the continent and that’s great! But how many other industries in Mauritius, the creative economy to be precise, are making an effort to collaborate and develop solutions to this gap? There needs to be a conscious, intentional and strategic effort to leverage the international youth community on the island to advance such a mission of bridging the gap. One way to kick this off would be to open conversations with them. Invite them to a round table to share ideas and discuss solutions. 

We absolutely love this island and would be open to discussing ways of contributing to its growth and development together with our communities back in our home countries.

13. Coffee, Tea, Kombucha or Energy drinks? What do Boardroom Banter podcasters like to drink as a caffeinated stimulant drink?

Most of the time when we record our Founders’ Episodes we all drink Coffee.

The Team of Boardroom Banter

Yuri Coret Podcast Manager at Boardroom Banter
Yuri Coret

Yuri Coret

Yuri Coret is a Business Management student at the African Leadership University (ALU), located on the tropical island of Mauritius. ALU is accredited by the Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland, UK, and was recently recognized by Fast Company Magazine as the number 1 most innovative company in Africa and by CNN as the Harvard of Africa.

Yuri is passionate about solving grand challenges, evaluating opportunities, and developing effective strategies to create a sustainable impact in our world. He is the Maji Kwa Wanafunzi Initiative founder that contributes to the sustainable access to clean water for African Children. Together with Davis & Shirtliff, East Africa’s leading water solutions company, he has pioneered borehole rehabilitation projects impacting over 6000 primary school students residing from two slums in Nairobi, Kenya. His water solutions to society continue to attract government interest having the President of Kenya and the Nairobi Metropolitan leadership add more value with branded tanks for his clean water borehole solutions in places like the Mathare slum in Nairobi, Kenya. By 2030, he aspires to have expanded to 6 other African countries and impacted over 5 million African children with clean water. 

As a startup enthusiast, Yuri has had the opportunity to study Enterprise Development and Innovation Management at the Watson Institute in Boulder, Colorado. During his time there he pioneered new ways of thinking and learning from which he discovered his passion for Emotional Intelligence. He has so far had the opportunity to share his knowledge with over 1000 people from 30 countries worldwide through online capacity-building trainings. Furthermore, Yuri has been certified by IBM as an Enterprise Design Thinking Co-creator from which he is equipped to help bring real-world user outcomes to life by growing collaboration skills and finding opportunities to step up and lead. Currently, in Mauritius, he is working towards working with exclusive groups of startup founders on ways they can increase their sales by implementing effective marketing strategies aligned with core competencies of emotional intelligence and enterprise design thinking. 

Yuri also has strong expertise in social media marketing, brand development, and graphics design. In 2020, he interned with the Global Colleges Scholars Program where he led in driving and executing high-growth marketing strategies across social media platforms. He brought to the table a keen eye for deep insight, an impressive analytical mind, and robust creative capabilities, all underscored by distinct leadership and emotional intelligence capabilities.

Finally, he yearns to maximize all opportunities available to him to explore and surpass the boundaries of his knowledge which will inadvertently prepare him for future roles as a Global Business Leader.

Boniface B. Omina Host & Producer at Boardroom Banter
Boniface B. Omina

Boniface B. Omina

Boniface Omina is the founder of Omian Project and an event producer with 4 years of experience designing, managing and hosting events in Kenya, the United States and Mauritius. Boniface is an alumnus of the Watson Institute in Colorado-USA and a sophomore at the African Leadership University- Mauritius on a full-ride scholarship. He is also the producer and co-host of the Boardroom Banter Podcast, aimed at amplifying the stories and journey of the world’s greatest dreamers and doers.

Omina is the former Chief Executive Officer at  Student Vortex- Kenya. The Vortex had a mission of creating opportunities for university students in Kenya to gain work experience and career exposure, primarily through linking them to companies for internships. During his gap year 2019, Boniface was selected to undertake a fully-sponsored entrepreneurship program at Strathmore Business School under the Allan and Gill Gray Foundation. This four-month program was concluded by a demo day where he and his team successfully pitched an online solution for university students in Kenya. After securing a seed fund of $2,000. Boniface went on to incubate his start-up at the Watson Institute Incubator Program in Boulder, Colorado. This opportunity built his capacity as a social and techpreneur as well as critical skill areas such as funding strategies for startups, investor negotiation, pitching and event management. By the time he was exiting Vortex, he had worked with start-ups from over five different countries, engineering tailored solutions ranging from health tech in Morocco to education programs in Austria and China.  Omina has personally designed internship programs for startups in New York and Nepal as well as consulting on product expansion and marketing strategies for agricultural companies in Mauritius.

Omina is a corporate event host and moderator. Some of his hallmark events include interviewing BIDCO Chairman and Billionaire  Dr. Vimal Shah, Kenya National Chamber of Commerce & Industry President Richard Ngatia and KCB Lion’s Den Lioness and Venture Capitalist Olive Gachara. His passion for speaking extends into other facets such as high school mentorship, both in Kenya and the United States. During his time as a peer mentor and brand ambassador of AKAD Africa, a mentorship organization in Kenya, Omina represented the organization on various platforms such as KBC TV, Radio and The Standard Newspaper. He represented AKAD on K24 TV speaking on the implementation of the 2-6-6-3 education system in Kenya. He has also given various talks under the AKAD umbrella at Precious Blood Secondary School, Makini School and the African International University

Boniface is currently running events and entertainment in Pamplemousses, Mauritius as he pursues his BA (Hons) degree in Business Management at ALU, accredited by Glasgow Caledonian University- Scotland.

Sean Karanja Kinyanjui Host at Boardroom Banter
Sean Karanja Kinyanjui

Sean Karanja

Sean is an entrepreneur born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, with a deep passion for the application of technology in the education and  finance sectors. As of 2022 he is the co-founder of Project Exponential (PEX)- a youth focus skills development platform founded during his gap year, after his graduation from the African Leadership Academy in South Africa. Over 5 years PEX has worked with 6 partner highschools across Kenya to deliver 21st Century skills development programs/content to nearly 900 students directly and thousands more via online content. His thesis in life is centered around leveraging technology to enable Africans to grow their skillset and financial freedom. 

Sean’s interests in business have seen him take part in the Draper University summer entrepreneurship bootcamp in Silicon Valley in 2016, where under mentorship from business titans like Dan Price and Tim Draper, his toolkit for problem solving and solution design found its foundation. He placed 4th overall in the final pitching competition judged by leading venture capitalists from the Valley. This immersive experience led him to explore the world of Blockchain, Cryptocurrency and designing entrepreneurship workshops. The fruit of which was first seen as Sean was selected to design and host a design thinking workshop at the 2017 EF Global Leadership Summit in Milan, Italy at the beginning of his gap year and leading to the founding of PEX.

After an eventful gap year exploring skill development as a business, as well as trying a hand at ecommerce. Sean was awarded a full scholarship to study Business Management (Hons) at the African Leadership University where he is currently in his third year. While at university Sean has pursued his interest in problem solving through consulting projects ranging from research and implementation for a $6 million Endowment Fund in Kenya, designing successful funding proposal documents for a Kenyan Agribusiness, and leading the planning of a pan-african elementary school chain based in Ghana. From the proceeds of these ventures Sean has taken on learning how to trade and manage wealth through professional forex and cryptocurrency trading for 3 years and continues to exercise his interest by partaking in a recent summer 2021 internship at Visa.Inc in the business Development departments for the CEMEA region. Here he worked on reinventing the fundamental digital and traditional architecture of banking systems through the tools in Visa’s toolkit as well as performing end of quarter financial analysis for banking partners. 

Sean spends his free time reading, corporate event Emceeing, engaging his peers in conversations and turning his lessons into insights via Boardroom Banter– a podcast platform that he Co-hosts and runs with his close friends and now business partners as they seek to scale their audience and impact globally.


The Podcasts

Name of GuestShort DescriptionKey take-awaysPodcast
Yasmina KazitaniHow do we deconstruct everything I’ve learned in the past 15 years? 
The world of digital marketing is evolving in this ‘new normal’ of the pandemic era and so are the methods businesses are using to get your interest and attention.
“At times, marketing isn’t about what someone needs but about what you can trigger in them.”Pilot: Consumer Mindsets- how businesses sell you things w/ Yasmina Kazitani MBA. Ms
Rev. Dr. Julius WecheWe explore the topic of masculinity, with a focus on the key definition of a ‘healthy’ masculine man, shortfalls of men in society and ways in which young men should approach exploring their individual & unique answers to the question: what does it mean to be a man?“College life provides a safety net for men to learn important life lessons in the journey of exploring their masculinity.”Ep#2: International Men’s Day- Navigating the concept of healthy masculinity w/ Rev. Dr. Julius Weche, CEO of AKAD Africa
Josphat LowoiIn this episode, we take a deep dive into the life of Josphat Lowoi, a Mastercard and Bezos Scholar at Duke University. We journey with Josphat through his turbulent time at Lenana School, how meeting an important mentor taught him the importance of standing out and his amazing leap to the African Leadership Academy- South Africa that came with so many blessings afterward. Having worked at Wall Street this past year, Josphat has seen what it means to compete in corporate America and chronicles some eye-opening lessons that will challenge how you view personal branding and how to be so good that they can’t ignore you.“Being different and standing out helped me get into rooms with people I would have never dreamed of before.Ep#3: Being bold in your brand- the importance of standing out w/ Josphat Lowoi, Duke University Scholar
Amar PatelIt is important to explore different environments and expose oneself to a variety of human reactions in order to broaden perspective. After getting his computer science degree from Colorado University- Boulder, Amar Patel plugged into the startup ecosystem in Colorado driven by a commitment to building legacy through his work with people and finding ways of contributing to their success. We look at a post-college experience from the lens of Amar as he takes us through his early work life, how to build relational capital from simple interactions such as buying someone a cup of coffee and the importance of being inclusive of everyone’s voice in the room.“It is often so easy to lose sight of being authentic when we go to new physical places.”Ep#4: Building legacy through investing in humanity w/ Amar Patel
Charles MsilangaAfter an encounter with a motivational speaker in high school, Charles set out to inspire the next generation of speakers through his newfound passion. He started the Personal and Corporate Development Company that has gone to train numerous people around the world to overcome their fear and take control of their own voice.“Children are born curious and courageous, but the fear of public speaking is conditioned within them by their interactions at home and at school up until they’re adults.”Ep #5: Overcoming the fear of public speaking and more w/ Charles Msilanga, CEO of the Personal and Corporate Development Company
Mzamo MasitoIn this episode, we recount a conversation we had with Google Africa’s Mzamo Masito on his life journey and explore his take on how people approach opportunities in life. “Staying where you’re born creates an illusion of progress. Get out of your village and step out of your comfort zone.”Ep #6: The importance of democratizing opportunities for impact- a story by Mzamo Masito, Chief Marketing Officer at Google Africa
Jerome AlphonseJerome’s worldview has been informed by global exposure and life experiences, two of the best teachers in life. Jerome breaks down the topic of Mauritian youth unemployment, takes us through his path of discovering himself and the importance of making sure your bed is made before going out to fix the world.“My mission is creating the future waves of African leaders through career advice and coaching.”Ep #7: Making your own bed before fixing the world w/ Jerome Alphonse, ALU Education
Okeyinfu AjayiIt is estimated that by the year 2050, Africa’s population would have doubled in size with its youth being at the forefront of this treasure trove of talent and potential. KayKay guides us through her view on the contemporary issues surrounding educating this next generation of learners, developing efficient and human-centered structures within an organization and building conducive environments for learning and development, whether you’re a startup or a fully-functional firm.“If there is no structure behind your business growth then it’s just a swelling; and like a swelling, it’ll eventually go down.”Ep #8: Ready, Fire, Aim! Closing the gap between education and the workspace w/ Okeyinfu – Dimowo Ajayi
Jorge MendezNumerous entrepreneurs seek out training, seminars, talks, workshops to launch or scale their ventures and are familiar with how rigorous a process it can be to make it into world-class programs.
All three Boardroom founders have gone through either an accelerator or incubator program during their gap years. This episode features their accounts of their experiences as Jorge breaks down how to successfully apply and gain admission to such programs, the mindset required to undertake them and how the Watson Institute is redesigning its frameworks to align with entrepreneurs’ needs in the current global pandemic era.
“In entrepreneurship, progress is not linear. It occurs in leaps so at times you’ll feel stagnant but that’s okay.”Ep #10: The role of accelerators & incubator programs in the startup ecosystem w/ Jorge Mendez, Director of Programs at the Watson Institute in Boulder, Colorado- USA
Joshua OkoduwaJoshua guides us through a conversation where he sensitizes us to begin owning our narratives and using our passion, capacity, and networks to uplift less fortunate people in our society.“Wealth isn’t all about the money you have, but it is more about the impact you create.”Ep #11: Creating Impact in your community w/ Joshua Okoduwa, Chevening Scholar
Sarah MurungiWe are in the season of redesigning how things are done. Over artist- Sarah has clear approaches of defining her value and communicating it within her line of work and beyond. This conversation takes a closer look at what exactly it means to align oneself to a mission and remain authentic to core principles and values, while communicating just how much you are worth.“Your standard is what you tolerate. Don’t lose your audience by compromising your authentic and true self.”EP #12: Understanding the value of your brand and how to communicate it w/ Sarah Murungi, founder of the Goal’d In Africa podcast
Amadou ChicoPacking his bags and moving from a successful career in Guinea to new and unchartered grounds in Kenya, Amadou is no stranger to risk-taking and has built his reputation as one of Africa’s most daring innovators. In this episode, he walks us through his experience enduring his first year in a foreign country- backed only by his sheer will, crazy go-big-or-go-home attitude, and vision to leave a footprint in the lives of fellow high achievers on the continent. This conversation challenged us to rethink how we approach failure, reflect on our upbringing, and how we translate our cultural dynamics into our personal and professional lives.“It’s always easy to give up and run back home. Go home when you need to retreat, prepare, and attack – not when you haven’t tried everything.”EP #13: Daring to dream and execute BIG w/ Amadou Chico Cissoko, Innovation Catalyst with a vision to impact 1 billion lives
Omaima DoukkaneAfter a childhood experience of watching her father rush to the aid of car accident victims, Omaima envisioned a future where medics and first-time responders would be equipped with critical tools to aid in saving lives. Her mission was to fight blood shortage in Africa by introducing blood drives that would facilitate providing accurate medical data/diagnosis in emergency cases. In 2020, these efforts were halted by the COVID-19 pandemic and further hindered by social and political disparities in her homeland of Morocco. In the episode, Omaima walks us through her journey of self-criticism, understanding the importance of self-reliance, and taking ownership of our narrative on the African continent to create solutions to our own challenges.“The COVID-19 Pandemic reshaped our idea of reliance as Africans on the external world for solutions. The answers to our challenges are right here on the continent.” EP #14: Developed vs Developing Countries; the contribution of the COVID-19 pandemic to social disparities w/ Omaima Doukkane, MBA
Derek BbangaOne of the most important 21st Century skills shaping the future of work is Emotional Intelligence. Workspace interactions have evolved over the past two years and according to Genos Certified Emotional Intelligence Coach Derek Bbanga, leading with E.I is instrumental in fostering psychological safety when building strong and committed teams. This awareness of others is just as important as that of self and how we perceive the changes around us. Derek reflects on how his progressive worldview has been shaped through his work life over this period, anchoring his message on the ease of adaptability witnessed in one of the world’s most unique creatures, the zebra.“It’s important to create an atmosphere where people are comfortable enough to speak up, ideas are heard, and dissenting opinions are encouraged.”EP #15: Leading with Emotional Intelligence and the importance of building psychological safety in organizations w/ Derek Bbanga, Genos International
Edison Gbenga AdeFrom small scale businessman in Nigeria to a global consultant, and early stage investor, Edison Gbenga walks us through his journey of living out his wildest dreams. When an avid problem solver like himself found failure after failure in his career and startup life, he had to rethink his philosophy and mindset completely. In this episode, we learn more about the mind blowing dynamics of the booming startup scene in Africa and what it really takes for founders to raise billions, create impact at scale, and stay true to the people they serve.“Relationships matter most to investors. Many of them don’t look for the best pitch, but for entrepreneurs that they can connect and work with.”EP #16: Business plans don’t work; The true psychology of building Africa’s next $1 Billion company w/ Edison Ade- Lead Consultant, Bloop Global & Director, Founders Institute (Ghana)

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