Gloria Michelle Otieno – Muka is the Founder and CEO of Recours Four Kenya, a Human Resource Consultancy firm that has an annual turnover of over $400,000. Her journey has neither been easy or smooth, but Gloria always knew that her entrepreneurial journey will be geared towards the field of Human Resource.
When the 31-year-old Pharmacy graduate quit her stressful day job, she was quite sure of what she wanted to do. And 5 years later, she has never looked back.
“I started the business by doing CVs for people; I started with doing CVs for friends, family, and workmates. I realized that many people were clueless on how to construct a professional CV and as I got to do many CVs, I realized that interview skills were also a big problem.”
Before this, Gloria who is the firstborn among 3 siblings, and the only girl, graduated in 2008 from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in South Africa with a degree in Pharmacy. In between her studies, she worked at a recruitment firm in South Africa.
“I led a team of 15 student staff involved in recruitment and interviewing of potential staff in ensuring daily sales targets are met on outsourcing target”
After graduating, she returned back home since the firm couldn’t hire on a permanent basis as she lacked the necessary relevant degree. Her admiration of the cabin crew during her flight back to Kenya on-board a Kenya Airways place led her to apply for a customer care representative at Kenya Airways.
While waiting for a response from Kenya Airways, she realized that many people were clueless on how to construct a CV. She capitalized on this opportunity by doing CVs for her friends and family, and many got accepted.
Gloria was accepted at KQ, but her stint there came to an end during a retrenchment exercise undertaken by the company in early 2012. She was transferred to an outsourcing company that made the working conditions a bit better harsh and unbearable.
“Our salaries were slashed; we were under-staffed and over-strained”
In Oct 2012, due to lack of work satisfaction, she decided to quit her job and capitalized on her hobby; writing CVs and cover letter to friends and family.
For the next five months, her business picked up, she opened up the Facebook page and more clients came through validating her idea into a real business. And in March 2013, Gloria registered Recours Four Kenya, and with a Kshs 100,000 loan from her father and Recours Four Kenya was established as a limited company.
“I basically felt like I needed to be a part of the human resources industry because, in Kenya, the unemployment rates were alarming, I wanted to be part of a social change and to make a difference in the human sector as a whole.”
Gloria’s deep desire to enter this field was driven by the fact that there were alarming employment rates and most young people were clueless on how to construct a professional CV or how to conduct themselves during interviews.
“This was my motivation, I wanted people to be able to acquire jobs easily by enabling them to construct a professional CV because let’s be honest, a CV is the point of the first impression. A good first impression can get you through the door to your first interview.”
And that has been her mission for the last 5 years; Recours Four Kenya is a Human Resource spectrum consulting services focussed on recruitment, psychometric testing, salary survey and a variety of HR Consultancy services. In addition to providing outsourced HR functions to companies; they are also focussed on training and development of teams on a large scale.”
“We collaborate with companies to manage their human capital”
United Nations in the Human Development Index (HDI) 2017 records that Kenya has an unemployment rate of over 40% of the overall population. Out of the available labour force, 80% of them are below the age of 35 – predominantly a youthful population. At the same time, the literacy level across this youthful population is over 80%, but many of them do not have the relevant skill set to be hired.
And this is why Recours Four Kenya is focussed on training and equipping the youth on not just making the right career choices but also adopt the relevant skills to help them wade through the competitive job market.
“We are on a mission to bridge the gap between unemployment and the workplace. We use innovative approaches to curb the alarming unemployment rates, improve organizational staff development and smooth progression of careers.”
To make this possible, Gloria has brought together a team of 4 permanent staff and 15 consultants comprising of training, payroll and HR experts who have a combined professional staff experience of 30 years in Human Resource Management. To make Recours Four Kenya competitive, all the consultants are members of the Institute of Human Resource Management (IHRM) in addition to having all their training are accredited by the National industrial Authority in Kenya.
Gloria who has previously pumped in 2 million more as capital has never raised outside funding to date.
“I was able to raise the 2 million from personal savings out of the previous jobs and also group investment savings”
With over 50 job placements per month, Recours Four Kenya has experienced tremendous replicating successes over the years and has partnered with several companies in Kenya, South Africa, Russia and even France. Notable companies and organizations include World Bank, USAID, Cytonn, Sportpesa and USAID among others.
Gloria believes that excellent customer service across their platform has largely contributed to their success.
“We have a great customer referral system, high retention rate from our recruitment services and amazing reviews from our client base which has grown tremendously over the years.”
In 2016, Recours Four Kenya won the Best Corporate Partner of The Year Award at the Gala Awards held at The Villa Rosa Kempinski organized by Eddah’s Hope. And in May 2017, the company received a nomination for the Star Quality in Leadership award – Gold category that was held in France in May 2017 by the Bid Group.
Being a young lady in entrepreneurship has meant that she has had to go cover steps to extra toil to gain the grip and position in the industry.
“I don’t believe that being a lady has simply contributed to the success I have gained in the industry; I have had to sacrifice a lot including my social life; I have lost a lot of friends along the way simply because I did not have the time anymore to just hanging out and waste time doing nothing much. I had to quit my job at Kenya Airways to fully focus on my business so I sacrificed a steady salary, in the beginning, to earn unstable income as the company was in its initial stages.”
This year, her hard work and passion to make a difference in how human resource is managed led her to be listed on Forbes Top 30 Under 30 2017. Gloria’s plan is to grow Recours Four Kenya into a leading a youth-oriented Human Resource Consultancy in the region and beyond.
Lessons through Gloria’s Lenses
What are some of the obstacles you have faced through the journey?
Well as the business grows, different problems and opportunities demand different solutions. You find yourself constantly in need of the right systems, right skills, market research and basically new innovative ways of reaching your market. All this needs constant cash flow, planning ahead and great financial management. Most of the time funding can be a major problem for most businesses.
What was your key driving force to become an entrepreneur and coming up with R4K?
My passion for socio-economic impact in the country and the need to do more in order to build Africa, improve the economy and get more people employed and excel in their roles.
What leadership lessons can you advise a young person who is venturing into entrepreneurship?
It is important to create great channels of communication between you and your team. Have an open door policy and allow your team to be innovative with ideas, avoid micromanaging your team. In addition, be patient, Rome wasn’t built in a day. It takes some time to build a thriving business.
What entrepreneurial tricks have you discovered to keep you focused and productive in your day-to-day busy schedule?
Setting goals the night before and prioritizing a day in advance. Then schedule the tasks in order of priority.
What are your hidden inspiration sources? What best motivates you? How do you get new ideas?
Reading books inspires me. My favourite book author at the moment is Robin Sharma and also, I like digging through the internet for valuable sources of information.
If you were to write a book about yourself, how would you name it?
‘Leadership in a Skirt’ or ‘I said Yes to Success’