How We Make It Work
Agnes & Musembi Kinako (Neema Hospital Kitui)
Musembi & Agnes Kinako are beneficiaries of the Advanced Entrepreneurship Program (AEP) conducted by ISBI Institute at Strathmore University Business School. The couple, are co-founders and co-directors of Neema Hospitals, which was founded 28 years ago. Most recently in 2018, Agnes and Musembi opened Neema Annex as a result of the growing demand for quality and affordable medical services.
Neema Hospital previously began as a small clinic in Kitui town in 1991. Musembi Kinako who is a trained medical practitioner was working at a government institution, before venturing into private practice. In 2001, the small clinic in Kitui was converted into a level four hospital offering services such as inpatient, outpatient and maternity, among others.
Even though Agnes, Musembi’s wife is a teacher by profession, Musembi decided to bring her into the business to help him run hospital operations. Agnes therefore had to retire her passion for teaching way before her retirement age, in order to support her husband in the family business. She joined in as a co-director and was in charge of Customer Care Management and satisfaction. Not too long after, a countrywide doctor’s strike in Kenya crippled operations in public hospitals, resulting into an influx of patients at Neema hospital. Luckily, with two co-directors, the hospital was able to manage this increase in demand. “The strike by the government doctors resulted into more patients opting for Neema Hospital. We had a huge number of patients towards the close 2017.” Said Agnes.
How Did you end up at ISBI Institute?
“We heard about the AEP training for entrepreneurs done by ISBI Institute at Strathmore University Business School from our Relationship Manager at Sidian Bank of which, have a symbiotic relationship. We bank with Sidian while at the same time, Neema hospital treats Sidian Bank staff members.
We had a great challenge managing hospital finances and business resources. It was initially impossible to separate ourselves from the business. We knew we were making money yet it was difficult to account for each expense or revenue. When our bank relationship manager presented the Advanced Entrepreneurship Program as a solution, we immediately took it up.
Our main goal was to improve our financial literacy knowledge through the program in order to propel the growth of our business,” said Mr. Musembi.
Having worked together at Neema Hospital, Mr. & Mrs. Musembi decided to attend the program together in order to maximize on value. The Kinakos would religiously travel from Kitui town to Strathmore University, covering approximately 160Km. They had a clear objective and the 3 hour Wednesday morning commute did not deter them from making it on time for the AEP classes. “We knew the early morning sacrifice would be worth it for our business,” said Mrs. Kinako.
Through the AEP program, Agnes benefited from interacting other entrepreneurs who were running side businesses and it inspired her to start her own. Creating a succession plan was one of the key insights she gained from the Advanced Entrepreneurship Program and The Kinakos are now striving towards making Neema Hospital a business that outlives them.
“We plan on opening a new branch outside Kitui county. We want to improve our core competency — Neema Maternity to offering the best Maternity services in Kenya within the next five years,” said Mr. Musembi. In order to achieve these goals, Musembi believes that they ought to implement key learnings from the Advanced Entrepreneurship Program.
“In the employee management module, we learnt ways in which we could effectively retain our employees at Neema through both monetary and non-monetary gains,” Said Mr. Musembi. After going through the program, the Kinakos expressed an interest in taking up Consulting, specifically on finance and financial management as an after-program add-on since they would like to understand profitability of Neema Hospital and manage operating costs, improving their working capital.
“I would recommend the Advanced Entrepreneurship Program to other entrepreneurs, especially couples who are doing business together. They should both join the program; share ideas, learn, discuss and implement lessons from the program in their business together,” advised Agnes.