KenyaSocial entrepreneurship

Writing wasn’t a profession in Kenya until now

Gabriel Dinda is empowering young Kenyans to become professional writers

Social Entrepreneur Spotlight Kenya: Writers Guild

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 25 seconds.

On a house coffee at the Clarion Café in Downtown Nairobi, Kenya

His passion has the potential to transform Kenya

I can’t explain it. This person has some sort of uniqueness. There are some people in the world that have that incredible aura. It feels like energy is flowing around them. Gabriel the founder of the Writers Guild Kenya is one of them. If he would tell me he could actually walk through walls… I am not even kidding… I would believe it. Actually he does that at times because being a writer as a profession is tough especially in a challenging environment such as Kenya.

A writer in Kenya?

It is tough for writers here. You should become a doctor, a lawyer or an engineer but who becomes a writer? That is what most people learn in their childhood. Also Gabriel had to find his path becoming a CPA at first.  It is a typical finance career path in Kenya. However, at some point it felt there is something else waiting inside of him. This magical experience when words build magnificent phrases and slowly turn into something you can’t even put out of your hands. Writing is magical and Gabriel wanted to make it more accessible for everyone.

Gabriel founder of Writers Guild Kenya shows his book about youth unemployment in Kenya
Gabriel and me in a bookstore with his book in Nairobi © Marlon

At some point the fruit was ripe. It was time. Procrastination wasn’t an excuse any longer and a magnificent journey began with the first step.

“You are a weak writer, she is a weak writer, he is a weak writer, we come together and we conduct our activities to a point when media houses contact us. […] As a result we become strong together.”

This is a story of a man who never accepted the status quo and always wanted more. The at times depressing environment in Nairobi couldn’t tear him apart. Gabriel if you read this now… Keep going you’re doing amazing things. A few weeks back I actually saw a picture from my former employer in Kenya where Gabriel utilized the facilities to actually set up a workshop for writers of his network, the Writers Guild Kenya.

A long journey begins

Entrepreneurial spirit was always within him either singing, or selling pictures as a photographer on events Gabriel was always proactive. That helped him to set up Writers Guild Kenya to pursue his passion of writing and help others to succeed as a writer as well.

It all started with an article he wrote for a career fair at his university. Finally, he established the Writers Guild at Kenyatta University in 2014. People from all over Kenya were interested and he realized that a single club at one university in Nairobi was not enough. So he set up a legal entity and quickly created additional clubs at other locations.

Becoming a social business

Gabriel also had to make a decision between being a NGO and collecting donations for operations or setting up a real business model. He decided to go the ladder way by establishing a business wing of Writers Guild Kenya. Through a yearlong program for interested writers that want to improve their skills (“Affiliate Program”) the Writers Guild enables the best to join the business division and work on commercial writing tasks. The writer makes 60% and Writers Guild gets 40% from the work. The in-flowing money for the Writers Guild is then used to further develop the affiliate program.

“The level of satisfaction is much greater than the level of frustration.”

Necessity of drastic changes

Every beginning is obviously also connected to difficulties and challenging situations that need to be overcome. For the Writers Guild the quality of the writing was an obstacle for successfully establishing the business division. For this reason, Gabriel reduced the member count from more than 2000 to merely 90 members. With this move however he improved the quality significantly and lifted the business operations to a level with potential for commercial contracts.

Becoming the next Kenyan president

The impact of the Writers Guild creates are unique in East Africa where negative perception of writing as a profession is a major obstacle for talents to find their true purpose. Gabriel perceives the weak political structure and the negative perception of young people as some of the major obstacles that hold Kenya back. He is the personalized hope for writers and the whole of Kenya, a true leader with an intriguing vision, Gabriel Dinda, founder of Writers Guild Kenya. Not to mention that he want to become Kenya’s next president in 2032.

3rd November 2017 in Havana, Cuba

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