Many entrepreneurs take a personal passion and turn it into a business. In the case of Mireille Karera, she had a passion to see people grow and progress in their lives in practical ways, and that led her to set up her company, KORA Associates, that encourages, coaches and advises individuals, businesses and communities in achieving their goals, visions and dreams.
We spoke to Mireille Karera this month to learn more about her business journey that took her from her early childhood in Rwanda, to setting up a business network spanning the Middle East and Africa.
What does your company do?
KORA Associates is a Consulting and Coaching company headquartered in Dubai, U.A.E, with operations in Africa. Our latest subsidiary recently opened in Rwanda, East Africa. We provide bespoke consulting and coaching services to clients around the globe. We specialize in three core areas Consulting, Coaching and Community. Our solutions focus on: Personal Development: (Life Coaching, Mentoring, Leadership, Motivation, Executive Coaching, Talent Management); Business Development: (Growth Strategies, Sales & Marketing, Customer Services and Relationship Management, Negotiation Skills); and Community Advisory: (Rural Community Advisory, Economic Empowerment for Women).
Our solutions are delivered in multiple ways, depending on our clients’ preferred methods. We can deliver training and coaching sessions to individuals, in the classroom environment or in public workshop formats.
What inspired you to start your company?
I am Rwandan by origin and was born in Burundi. I did a good part of my school years in the Republic of Congo. I later studied in Germany and partly in the UK. As life happens, I found myself working for major global companies in London and later in Dubai and Johannesburg. My international background has contributed greatly to my personal growth and exposure to a global lifestyle. Though I enjoyed the privilege of living and working in major cities and financial hubs, I have always had a nudge to help people back home. As a student, I remember thinking that I wanted to dedicate my time to helping people in Africa. Whilst I am passionate about people, I could never reconcile in my head how I could leave a high paying job and head to Africa to help people in need. It had been a personal struggle inside of me between the years of 1997 and 2013. In my young days, I thought that “helping” only meant helping financially or giving to a charity. I followed that path, which led me to co-founding a charity that helps orphans and vulnerable children in Rwanda and Burundi. As years passed, my network of friends expanded and I found myself led to a circle of like-minded people with a passion to see people grow and progress in their lives in practical ways. I surrounded myself with Social Entrepreneurs and Coaches who encouraged me to look into setting up a company that is aligned with my passion, talent and dreams. This in turn led me to gain additional qualifications as a certified professional coach. I discovered that one can capitalize on ones’ gifts and passion, while making a difference in people’s lives. I find fulfilment in encouraging, coaching and advising individuals, businesses and communities in achieving their goals, visions and dreams. This in a summary is how I got inspired to set up KORA Associates.
Why should anyone use your service or product?
We selected 6 core areas that address and solve specific needs in personal and business development. Whether you are an individual or part of a corporation or a community, there is a need to be trained and mentored. Our carefully selected range of coaching and mentoring tools address the following aspects:
- Personal Development: knowing your strengths, improve relationships with others and grab hold the invaluable and unique place each individual has in this world.
- Business Development: Growth Strategies which incorporate elements of Know Your Clients (KYC), customer services and improving sales while seizing new revenue streams.
- Community Advisory: with our philanthropic background, we have grown to advise communities in creating social enterprises and become self-reliant and sustainable.
Our passion to see women thrive has opened up partnerships with other organizations around the world. We collaborate with many associations and agencies that empower women and promote gender parity. Our motto and value that drives us is “Your Personal Growth Leads to Organizational Growth And transforms Your Community”.
What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?
My plans for the future are to carry on partnering with organizations that aspire to create positive transformation and make a difference in people’s lives. We plan to expand our business into a Coaching & Mentoring Academy and Leadership Institute. I am a dreamer by nature, so I allow myself to dream about having a private island somewhere in a tropical country. The private island will welcome people for quality retreats. We aspire to expand our facilities by combining our passion for personal/ business development into developing high-end retreat centres to cater for unique holistic learning experiences and journeys.
What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?
What gives me the most satisfaction as an entrepreneur is the fact that I get to see people’s lives transformed through our services. Nothing beats the sense of fulfilment that I get when I coach or advise an individual, then I see a positive shift as a result of our coaching session. Not even the best warm chocolate cake can give me that level of satisfaction! I feel alive when I am in a coaching environment. Ever had that moment when you actually “feel alive”? When I see the encouragement people get through the input and value we ad, I feel humbled to serve others and help them to achieve their highest potential in life. That is an ongoing process and journey, you and I are on. The goal is to not quit. One of my favorite coaches always says “If you don’t quit, you win”. Your victory is already won, when you choose to keep going on your entrepreneurial journey.
What’s the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?
My advice to women starting up is to follow that insisting inner voice that has already been nudging you to follow the dream inside of you. It is the hidden treasure that only you can find.
You may come from a tough background or a privileged one, no matter how you started, if you persevere and stay true to YOUR own desires and dreams, you will eventually turn your dreams into reality. You may not have the most supportive environment around you, but there is always an individual person or a group of people you can connect with. Surround yourself with people who you lift you up, instead of those who bring you down or dismiss your dreams and vision. Be careful who you share your dreams with, before they take shape. You might be discouraged to even start something by sharing your business vision and goal with the wrong people. I can’t help but end this story without encouraging every reader to know what that one unique thing is that they would do to make a difference in this world. The answer is a clue to a solution and start-up venture. Resist the urge to go after many opportunities. Focus on that one thing that you know you are gifted in and no one else can do better than you. It’s as simple as that. The rest is just logistics.