Victor Oloo: ‘Helping young creatives design their destinies through arts and agriculture’

For some unknown reason, my appetite has greatly improved lately. It’s a good thing because maybe I can now taste the food I’ve wanted to try out but always shied away from having a bite. I’m looking at this snack, apple pie. Oh well, perhaps you’ve had it before so don’t laugh. Anyway, my mind dives into another universe in the process. ‘The danger of a single story’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie captivates me. If you haven’t watched this clip, you are missing out. What stories have we created for ourselves and the society at large? There’s always possibility if you choose to see it. Unfortunately, sometimes we feed so much into negativity to the extent that success is just but a mirage.

tern University 2014

‘Hey Cynthia!’ Oh yes, Victor Oloo is finally here. My train of thought continues but now in reality. While studying at the United States International University in Nairobi, Victor and his friend had a dream of making documentaries and producing good content. People liked their work and soon enough, they had their own company called ‘Chromatic Pictures’ in 2012. He acknowledges that the lessons he got from his first business have been invaluable. They went as far as producing content for the Central Bank of Kenya, United Nations Development Programme, the African Union and other major players. Victor notes that at some point it became very difficult to manage a business and school and so he deferred his studies for a while. He also tried out many other businesses including selling menswear due to his interest in fashion.

First ever office - Chromatic Pictures Africa
First ever office – Chromatic Pictures Africa

Olosky the Brand, his latest venture is a platform for the youth who need an avenue to showcase their talent for free and network with people beyond their circle. This avenue serves young creatives so that they can have exposure to clients and investors. Further, he consults with organisations including Development Alternatives Incorporated where he is a communications and knowledge management expert.

on the farm with some young people I support

 

‘I have always loved agriculture having had the connection with it from the time I was growing up. In 2014, I was selected as a fellow for the Mandela Washington Fellowship. At the time, I was working with musicians Gilad Milo and Juliani on a campaign dubbed ‘farming is cool.’ We wanted to show the youth that you can actually make money out of agriculture. I later started consulting for Africa Lead that is aiming at establishing food security in Africa,’ he recalls. This was the beginning of his work in empowering youth to get into agribusiness.

Working with Ejun and Joel from Singapore in Maasai Mara
Working with Ejun and Joel from Singapore in Maasai Mara

He describes his experience with the Young African Leadership Initiative in the United States as life changing. This is where he met young people who were doing incredible things in different countries including South Africa, Niger and Chad. When he came back, he was energized. Every person he met taught him something. His site visits to Google, McDonalds and such big corporations were amazing. Victor was based in a very rich side of Chicago but he was lucky enough to visit the southern side of the state. This opened his eyes to the challenges facing different people across the globe such as lack of food and health cover.

At the Mandela Washington Fellowship Presidential Summit 2014
At the Mandela Washington Fellowship Presidential Summit 2014

In emphasizing the fact that you are born and then you create yourself, Victor wants to remind young people that you can do anything you want if you believe in it. He asserts that you must have the mindset to change your life and the lives of others. Opportunities open up when you go out to look for them and once you have the right connections, you’ll have greater chances of building solid networks to help you in your work. His exposure reminded him that he had people to look up to be it in business, public management and civic leadership and he should use that to anchor the opportunities for youth in Kenya and Africa at large.

Handling Communications for DAI
Handling Communications for DAI

‘I have an elder brother who I have always looked up to called Nelson. He taught me the value of determination and I have seen the strides he has made in life. I also look up to the former president of the United States of America who defied all odds to assure humanity that everything is attainable if you believe. I would want to have a conversation with him, pick his brains and know what gave him the audacity to believe that he could be president. I also admire his relationship with Michelle Obama,’ Victor notes.

While in the United States, Victor had a chance of interacting with the then first lady, Michelle Obama. Her authenticity, wit and intelligence is something that he will never forget. ‘I believe in you, we believe in you,’ those were the words he picked from Michelle in his three minute conversation with her.

Chatting with Michelle Obama at the MWF Presidential Summit 2014
Chatting with Michelle Obama at the MWF Presidential Summit 2014

It’s time for society to start rewarding hard work consistently. The youth need to know that they can work hard and still get ahead. You need not be popular to impact the lives of other people. We must interrogate the people we look up to and find people who can challenge our ideas so that they can be better. ‘The fear of the unknown prevents many people from getting opportunities. Your passion and God given gift will open doors so just go out there and start. Be ready to take risks,’ he advises.

Failure is not always a negative thing. If you choose the positive perspective, failure is also an opportunity to learn. Victor attributes his success to the number of times he has failed. Your grades should never define you. You must work hard and smart in class but remember that most times, work has very little to do with grades but more about how you interact with people and critical thinking.

Meeting Prof Kobia at Civil Service
Meeting Prof Kobia at Civil Service

‘It is important to test the environment you want to get into and that can only be done when you challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone and gain experience so as to get something that satisfies you,’ he assures. Networks are built out of scouting for opportunities. Victor’s message to young people therefore is to start as early as possible.

He reads specific books. ‘None of us is as good as all of us,’ authored by Patricia Harris who is the C.E.O. of McDonalds is one of his favourites. He got the book during his experience with the Young African Leadership Initiative. The book re-emphasizes on the importance of team work as you head towards success. It’s important therefore for each of us to acknowledge that unity is important.

Our delightful conversation ended with the assurance that you design your own destiny and God rewards those who actually want and work for something.

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