Bridget Achieng: A young woman from Kibra who established her fashion empire portfolio in the city

From the depths of Kibera, Nairobi’s largest informal community, emerged a remarkable rags-to-riches story embodied by millionaire Bridget Achieng. Despite her humble beginnings, one would never suspect her background when observing her interactions with the well-heeled residents of the capital city. At the young age of 17, she was expected to marry an older man she didn’t even know, a common narrative that often leads to such captivating tales of women’s success.

Achieng’s entrepreneurial journey was nothing short of extraordinary, proving the immense potential that lies within Nairobi’s informal sector. At just 23 years old, she built a fashion empire, with her exquisite apparel and jewelry gaining recognition at prestigious Fashion Weeks across East Africa. Her designs adorned some of the country’s most prominent media figures, reflecting her talent and creativity.

In contrast to the conventional path of securing a white-collar job through connections or bribery, Achieng chose a different route. She started as a maid and settled into a modest apartment in Kibera, earning KES1500 per month. Later, she found a job assisting a woman at a legal firm, paying KES5000 monthly. Despite completing secondary school and trade programs, formal employment remained elusive.

Inspired by young millionaires in the city, Achieng took a bold step. Utilizing her KES6000 savings, she purchased equipment and began crafting jewelry in her bedroom. Fearless and resourceful, she ventured into upscale Nairobi neighborhoods, approaching potential customers with her products. Eventually, she opened her boutique in downtown Nairobi, securing a permanent position in the fashion industry.

With her business flourishing, Achieng moved her family to a safer area outside of Kibera. Her unwavering support extended to her relatives, with her talented tailor mother now designing her outfits. Surprisingly, Achieng found herself transitioning into the role of an event planner—one of Kenya’s largest, no less. This newfound success, coupled with her evolution from socialite to mother and businesswoman, puzzled many.

Recalling the early days when funds were scarce, she embarked on a mission to find sponsors for Naifest 1, an event she organized. Countless rejections did not deter her, as she persisted by approaching various offices, corporations, and media houses in Nairobi. Despite facing torrential rain on the event day, the turnout was astounding, and she managed to generate KES5.2 million.

Her hard work and dedication paid off, as Achieng gained a loyal clientele and invitations to prestigious fashion shows. Her reputation even reached Tusker Project Fame, which recognized the extraordinary girl from Kibera who dressed celebrities from her tiny bedroom.

Bridget Achieng’s incredible journey exemplifies the power of determination and entrepreneurship in Nairobi’s informal sector. From her modest beginnings, she rose to become a celebrated figure in the fashion industry, breaking stereotypes and inspiring countless others along the way.