Taking the time to reflect, Silvia knows she has benefited greatly from what she learned inside and outside of the classroom during the Mandela Washington Fellowship. Since then, she has taken what she learned and utilized it creating success for her business through a new outlook. 

What is your biggest takeaway from your time at the University of Iowa for the Mandela Washington Fellowship Program? Why?

Biggest take away was definitely Venture School. I run a start up packaging honey so the business knowledge I received was priceless and helped me set my business strategy.

Have the skills you learned been helpful in your ventures? Which ones, and how did you apply them? 

Absolutely yes! Through the course work at Business School, I changed my marketing plan, I also received a business grant that helped me set up more bee hives and increase my distribution to include 6 extra Kenyan supermarkets.

If you could give one tip or piece of advice to the new 2018 fellows, what would it be?

Enjoy your time, even if sometimes school work can be much. Take a stroll through Iowa City, it’s full of beautiful surprises, old churches, amazing architecture, art on the streets and so many restaurants to choose from, meet as many people as you can and make sure to stay in touch with them.

What was the highlight of your time at The University of Iowa or your favorite moment during the fellowship? 

There were so many, can I name 3? It’s hard to pick out one but spending that much time with brilliant fellows was a highlight, so many brilliant brains in one room – the saying goes, iron sharpens iron. The class visits were also amazing, specifically the BBQ at Bob Walker’s farm – my dream farm. I also got to speak at the Rotary Club of Iowa meeting which was amazing!

How are your entrepreneurial ventures going? Have they grown? Have you explored or started new ones?

I have expanded my business (honey packaging) we have set up bee hives, signed up new supermarkets and are just about to launch a new product (honey sachets) into the market.

How do you personally feel you have grown or changed (in perspective, in knowledge, as a person etc.) because of the fellowship program?

Mark Twain summed it perfectly – “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness” I definitely feel wiser, richer in experience and I have an international outlook as I continue running my business, not just a narrow insular look

Give a brief summary of your life since the fellowship program for instance: wedding, addition to the family (new birth), new job, promotion, new project, new company, new project line, etc. 

I got married, had a baby, her name is Nandi Chebet and is now 3 months old. Our products are in new supermarkets, 2017/2018 have been my YES years!