How an entrepreneur cut a niche in coaching for success

Joyce Mbaya. FILE
Joyce Mbaya. FILE 

Who needs coaching to succeed? Don’t ask Joyce Mbaya unless you have enough time to listen. She talks about the subject with the passion of a preacher.

“A coach,” she says, “is like a personal referee to cheer you on and guide you towards your greatest achievements.”

Ms Mbaya, the founder of business consulting and coaching firm GIBEBE, often quotes the inspiring words of Albert Einstein, the German-born theoretical physicist: “It takes a different kind of thinking to solve a problem than the kind of thinking which produced the problem.”

Coaching develops the capacity to think about problems, people, relationships, customers, products, services and even the future in creative ways. People who want to accomplish great things often get stuck along the way, and coaching helps them get un-stuck.

“Coaching is a developmental strategy that enables people to meet their goals for improved performance, growth or career enhancement,” says Ms Mbaya, who represented Kenya in the 2008 edition of The Apprentice Africa reality show which she says opened her eyes to latent strengths in many workers, managers and entrepreneurs that can be unleashed through a guided empowerment plan.


GIBEBE, which Ms Mbaya founded aged 27, coaches through classes, with a strong focus on business, career and achieving success. Its flagship product – Awaken Your Potential, an intensive eight-week coaching programme based on her inspirational book Gibebe – has been running for the last four years.

Coaching, she says, gives participants a different perspective and direction that is the missing link for them to make their aspirations come true.

“When people in an organisation are empowered through coaching, it leads to a more results-oriented culture based on the fact that people believe in their capability to achieve and understand the greater cause they are working for,” Ms Mbaya, 30, said in an interview.

For her, coaching is a calling. You must have a message that can truly make a difference and you must be able to positively influence others.

“Coaching chose me; not the other way round,” she says. “When I came back from The Apprentice Africa, many people sought advice from me on how I landed the opportunity and also achieved other key things at a young age. This is when I realised that what I have to share can truly have a great impact in helping others achieve their goals.”

She says we all have visions, dreams and goals but it’s difficult to achieve them on our own. “I also have people to coach me in order to improve various areas of my life. I cannot coach myself,” she says, the quotes Einstein’s definition of insanity” “...doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

This is the kind of thinking she espouses, where people have to think outside their conventional ways to succeed. Coaching is non-directive and more informal than training, and adopts a more long-term and continuous approach of empowerment.

Training imparts expertise knowledge in certain areas and typically it becomes the responsibility of the recipient to use this knowledge to improve output. Coaching, on the other hand, directs you towards your own realisation and adaptation of what you need to do to achieve your goals.

GIBEBE uses a combination of the two, imparting knowledge on certain areas that people need to learn about and integrating interactive activities and running classes to ensure that people apply and practise what they learn.

Coaching is a fairly new concept in Kenya, as training has been the traditional model to motivate and empower staff. Ms Mbaya says this is because Kenya’s educational curriculum focuses mainly on technical skills and not personal development.

The key lesson revolves around the three pillars that make up GIBEBE’s slogan: ImaGIne, BElieve, BEcome.

As in, imagine your success path, your vision, mission, strengths, use self-awareness effectively to establish who you are and what you want for yourself: Believe in the impossible – through positive thinking, people skills and mind power; and become who you are meant to be.

“Simply, we cultivate the success skills that will enable you to actualise what you imagine and believe,” she adds.

These skills cut across branding, innovation, project management and leadership, among other areas of business.

Ms Mbaya left a lucrative job with a telecom firm as a VAS (value-added services) project manager to venture into business, and she’s glad she did. Using lessons from her former employer and experience at The Apprentice Africa show, she is building a successful enterprise in an area that many have shied from.