Alexander Odhiambo, 32



It takes only moments of meeting Alexander to discover that he is resilient. He has started and mostly failed in many businesses. Solutech was the outlier, the magic dust of his nascent career.

Solutech, he says, is Kenya’s leading sales force automation Tool (SAT), a software that not only scales but transforms core processes in the organisations it is deployed in.

Recently, Solutech was awarded non-dilutive capital as one of the 60 start-ups in Google’s Start-ups Black Founders Fund in Africa.

“I used to work in a tech NGO but they cut funding. Tarmacking all over town, we looked for jobs everywhere. There is probably no company in this town that does not have my résumé. One day, we sat down the three of us [his co-founders], decided to put our skills to use, hawked our talents, and formed Solutech,” he says.

"I have failed in many other businesses, like a fast-food joint that took me to my knees."

They started with one customer and 22 users, now they have 70 customers and over 6,000 users.

“We provide tech solutions for manufacturers like Crown Paints, Pwani Oil, Ketepa, PNG, Redbull, Coca-Cola, Highlands Juice, Soko Ugali, and Ajab Flour.”

He credits their biggest achievement as winning the trust of local and multinational companies.

“Our systems send daily reports to our clients’ global headquarters,” he says.

Leadership has always come easy to the Computer Science graduate from the University of Nairobi.

People mention leadership haphazardly as if leadership were an eye colour, some quality you carry around inside you, even when you are alone. Others have the leadership pheromone. Alexander just carries it with him.

“But,” he says, “I have failed in many other businesses, like a fast-food joint that took me to my knees.”

The lesson he has learned?

If you invest 100 percent in a business, anyone else who comes in should join as an employee.

“I have not had mentors along the way, I have had to push myself,” says Alexander.

Success, he says, is making a difference in people’s lives.

“But the money doesn’t hurt either. I have twin boys and a girl, who keep me on my toes. It’s why I wake up every day,” he says.

Entrepreneurship is lonely.

“It’s a forlorn path, despite the buzz around it. But it’s one of the ways to leave your mark. You cannot build a legacy on rented land,” he says.

Eddy Ashioya