Introduce yourself! Who are you? I am Bandy Kiki, Founder of Kinnaka Group of businesses – a marketing and branding conglomerate; Co-founder of Rainbow Equality hub-an advocacy platform for LGBTQ refugees and asylum seekers in the UK and an LGBTQ rights activist.
What is one thing no one really knows about you? I used to be a very shy kid growing up. It became a weakness which made me vulnerable. I have had to constantly work against it to become who/what I am today.
Have you ever had anyone doubt you? Being a female/woman from my country, you are doubted by default. The culture around women is that which puts them on the back seat in every household, even in cases where they are the bread winners. When I started my entrepreneurial journey, very less was expected of me. There is a belief that a woman must lose her dignity to gain a place at table with others, especially men.
And so, the narrative they had of me then, and what is said now, is very different. And despite the fact that I continue to challenge the status quo, they will rather identify me with degrading insults rather than praises for my successes. How did that make you feel?
It really doesn’t bother me as long as it is just words. If they have a role to doubt me then my role is to prove them wrong. And I think I have been doing good so far.
What message do you think every woman should hear? That in each one of us, is a God given talent and a gift which we have the choice to exploit or let lay dormant. The key is finding out what that gift/talent is and then exploiting it in the best ways possible. And no one should tell you otherwise.
What is your favorite thing about where you live? The diversity of people I encounter on my way in and out of my house. Growing up in a small village in Cameroon, I have only been around a homogenous population with striking similarities in all they do. Coming to the UK, the diversity here has educated me a lot about people, personalities and priorities. And who I am today, is a product of this environment I am in.
What do you love most about yourself? I truly admire my self development. Learning from myself – not seeing any failures as a weakness but as a reason to do even better. It happens somewhat automatically.
Do you remember a specific time you overcame adversity? Being a lesbian is a taboo where I come from. There are many negative connotations that have been ascribed to it. And when I finally told myself that I am truly, truly more attracted to women than men, the most difficult part was how I will be accepted within my family, friends and general population especially being a public figure. And then I realized, I just had to do it.
What motivates you most? The fear of failure and the need to create an impact in the world motivates me. I want to be able to look back on my past and say ‘that happened because I didn’t give up’.
What do you do on a daily basis to grow and move forward? Anyone who knows me well will tell you I am a symbiotic opportunist (in a good way). I am always looking for new ways and new opportunities to expand my brand and achieve my set goals. I also do a lot of people development to prepare myself for when opportunity shows up.
What is one thing people would be surprised to hear about you? I don’t think anyone will be surprised to hear anything about me. They expect anything and everything from Bandy Kiki.
If you weren’t blogging, what would you be doing? Well, at the moment I do many other things besides blogging. I advocate for the rights of LGBTQ people especially in Africa. I am a Co-founder of Rainbow Equality Hub which I run with a great team and I consult with SMEs on how to use social media to expand their markets.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs? Don’t give up on your dreams even if no one supports you. People will come around and doors will open as soon as you start making strides. Be consistent and clear about your goals and how you are going to achieve them.
What are your favorite business tools/resources and why? Social media is the biggest business tool as far as business goes in this day and age.
What was the most challenging moment in your entrepreneurial journey thus far? My most challenging moments have to be when my mother was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer right up to when she died. I had just launched Kinnaka TV when she was diagnosed and had to stop production and the project which was financially and physically draining. When she died, I wanted to give up on everything. I took a month off blogging and every other thing I was doing. Clients who had paid for my services were very understanding. I really don’t like talking about this period in my life. I think I am still in denial. Myself and my mother were very close and talked about mostly everything. My heart is forever broken!
What is something you struggle with? I used to struggle with my sexuality. However, now that I have finally come out as a lesbian woman, I feel liberated on so many levels and more myself. I don’t have to do things to hide who I am anymore.
Where do you plan on taking your business? The plan is to take the business to a global stage and become a corporate ingredient for Cameroonian businesses.
Bandy Kiki is a UK based Cameroonian Blogger who runs and operates the popular blog Kinnaka’s Blog and Kinnaka TV.