• Kelvin “Kevo” Macharia Kuria was born in June 1990 in Nakuru, Kenya. As a student at Nakuru High School Kelvin was distressed by the ants, cockroaches, and flies that would make their way into his dorm room. He began to experiment with mixing extracts from shrubs that might deter the invaders and wound up inventing an effective organic insecticide called ALOEMEXHOT when he was just 17 years old. His invention of an environmentally-friendly, organic pesticide led to Mr. Macharia being one of 12 finalists for The Next Big Thing competition. This was quite an achievement given that there were over 3,200 applicants vying for the opportunity to share their ideas with potential investors and venture capitalists. The managing director of the Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI) was one person attracted by Mr. Macharia’s work. Another was the senior patent right examiner at the Ministry of Industrialization, who helped Mr. Macharia to patent his invention.

    Mr. Macharia went on to complete a diploma in Entrepreneurship and Leadership from the prestigious and highly selective institution, the Africa leadership Academy in Johannesburg, South Africa and to graduate from the University of Nairobi with a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce with a specialization in Operations Management.

    In 2011, after one of his relatives was carjacked, Mr. Macharia founded Sunrise Tracking, a company that offers innovative security solutions for vehicles and buildings. Although Mr. Macharia started his company with only $300, Sunrise Tracking rapidly enabled the more than one hundred customers and companies that contract with them to disable their stolen vehicle with a text message and track their vehicle through an automated fleet management system. By 2014, Sunrise Tracking was valued at over $100,000 and provided full-time employment for six people. Recently Sunrise Tracking also opened an office in Nakuru.

    In 2012, Mr. Macharia and Sunrise Tracking were featured by Kenya’s largest newspaper, the Daily Nation. In 2013 they were showcased by K24TV and in 2014 by KTN’s show The Entrepreneur andVoice of America. In 2014, Sunrise Tracking was recognized as African Startup of the Year by CNN.CNN and KTN News Kenya featured Mr. Macharia in 2104. Business Daily Watch recognized Mr. Macharia as one of their Top 40 Men under 40 in Kenya and Forbes magazine named Mr. Macharia one of the top 30 most promising young entrepreneurs in Africa in 2015. He is also the recipient of a 2015 Mandela Washington Fellowship, a highly competitive award granted through US President Obama’s Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI), which offers an opportunity for 500 excellent leaders to spend six weeks in the USA networking and advancing their entrepreneurial skills. Twenty US institutions host 25 Fellows each. Mr. Macharia was part of the group hosted by Dartmouth College.

    Mr. Macharia plans to use his training and experiences with the Mandela Washington Fellowship to grow his company in the coming years such that it will serve all African countries and generate 3,000 employment opportunities for youths.

    Based on the literature on international development and personal success, why have Mr. Kelvin Macharia and his company been so successful?

    Some key characteristics come to mind:

    Mr. Macharia has DETERMINATION. In 2009, his application for admission to university was turned down, but he did not allow this setback to thwart his desire to be a change maker.

    After Mr. Macharia was accepted to university, he was the victim of crime. His anger at having his laptop stolen, along with the carjacking that his relative experienced, caused him to CHANNEL HIS NEGATIVE ENERGY INTO SOMETHING POSITIVE, starting a company that would help improve security and give people peace of mind.

    Mr. Macharia recognizes that FORMAL EDUCATION ISN’T ALWAYS ENOUGH. A university degree does not guarantee employment. He encourages other university graduates to engage in entrepreneurship to generate their own employment, employ others, and follow their dreams.

    (Image Credit: CNN)


    Heidi G. Frontani is a Professor of Geography  at Elon University in North Carolina in the USA and former Fulbright Scholar in Kenya. This story originally appeared on her blog on August 1, 2015. To read more of her stories, follow her blog: https://africandevelopmentsuccesses.wordpress.com/