Inspired by ‘The Apprentice’ to excel in coaching business


The first time Joyce Mbaya stood to speak to a gathering of professionals and business executives, she knew this is what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.  Shortly after, she curtain-raised for Robin Sharma, the renowned international speaker, when he visited Nairobi in 2011. She had just launched her coaching company, GIBÉBÉ, after walking out of a lucrative job at the age of 27 years. 

“I was so nervous to stand in front of so many people, more so being a young person addressing an audience of senior executives,” says Ms Mbaya. There was pressure to deliver an amazing experience as the opening speaker for such a famous coach and author. She was relieved to get very positive feedback after the event. 


She has never looked back.

GIBÉBÉ – coined from the Swahili word Jibebe meaning “uplift yourself” – has trained and coached at a number of multinationals and local companies in Kenya. She is also a motivational speaker, and has featured in major events across the continent. Her first inspirational book, named after her company, motivates people to exploit their potential by sharing her own personal successes.

“I emphasise that to win, you must have a good strategy and execute it well,” says Ms Mbaya. It is with this strategy and a high level of self-awareness that she won The Apprentice Africa ticket and impressed many with her smart and innovative approach, which became the turning point in her life. “You need to know your strengths, and understand yourself well enough to know how to communicate your unique selling point against so many who are also talented and smart,” she says.

GIBÉBÉ also offers consultancy services in strategy, branding, innovation, project management, product development and information technology. Her coaching classes – on business, career and success – are offered to both companies and individuals.

For Ms Mbaya, a computer science and mathematics graduate of the University of Central Missouri in the US, coaching is more of a passion than a commercial venture. Her GIBÉBÉ coaching model is shorthand for ImaGIne, BElieve, BEcome. She says you need to identify your goals, believe you can achieve them through positive thinking then use success skills to make them a reality.  “We deliver our coaching in form of classes that run over a period of time depending on the coaching area,” she says. GIBEBE’s flagship product, Awaken Your Potential, an intensive eight-week coaching programme, has been running since 2010. 

The coaching classes are unique, incorporating interactive and fun presentations, videos, activities, creative ideas and arts among others, to make the experience fun. “What we do is intensive and life changing, but it does not have to be depressing, and we make it our mission to deliver innovatively,” she says.


Coaching is a developmental strategy that enables people and businesses take action towards realisation of their visions and goals. It differs from training in the sense that it is more non-directive and informal, and it adopts a more long-term and continuous approach of empowerment.  “Having a coach is like having a personal referee, someone to cheer you on and guide you towards your greatest achievement,” says Ms Mbaya. 

People who want to accomplish great things often get stuck along the way, and coaching helps them to get un-stuck. “It gives you a different perspective and direction that you may not be aware of but could be the missing link for you to make your aspirations a reality,” she says. “When people in an organisation are empowered through coaching, it leads to a more result oriented culture based on the fact that people believe in their capability to achieve and understand the greater cause they are working for.”

Joyce Mbaya’s life was transformed when she was picked for the globally acclaimed reality business show The Apprentice Africa in 2008. People were curious how she managed to outsmart over 50,000 applicants to clinch a chance to the prestigious show at such a young age of 25. She answered many of the questions people asked her about her success, then she realised so many of them actually needed a coach to take them through the obstacles of life, and eventually lead them to success. 

Soon, she discovered that she enjoyed speaking too, and coaching, people. Being ever the risk taker, she left a fast rising career, working as VAS (value-added services) project manager at a leading telecommunications company, where she led the development of new mobile services and went into business as a coach, speaker and consultant. 

Her GIBÉBÉ book is in many ways a demonstration of how to overcome obstacles to achieve success, both in the message of the book and Ms Mbaya’s determination to launch it.  “When I finished writing the book, I did not have the funds to publish and launch it, but I was determined to get it out. So I decided to launch it in digital format. I used my IT skills to set up the digital book,” she says. 

She was among the first Kenyans to launch a book in digital format. The digital book, on Kindle online reader, helped raise funds to launch the hard copy two years later. The book, launched in early 2013, does not only tell Ms Mbaya’s inspiring experiences, but borrows heavily from her uniquely tailored coaching classes to give readers a road map to discover and unleash their potential.

She says the inspiration to reach her dreams comes from her grandfather, and she has included in her book her extraordinary relationship with him, including a unique conversation not long before his passing away a dozen or so years ago urging her to go out and achieve her full potential by exploiting her special talents.  “He truly inspired me to believe in myself, and I want to do more with my life in order to create a positive impact,” she says.  

Coaching is a continuous relationship that helps people develop their capacity to think about things in new and creative ways. “Having a coach is like having a personal referee, someone to cheer you on and guide you towards your greatest achievements. People who want to accomplish great things often get stuck along the way. Coaching helps people get un-stuck,” she says.

Like Albert Einstein, she believes “it takes a different kind of thinking to solve a problem than the kind of thinking which produced the problem.”  She says coaching can also benefit organisations in motivating staff to perform and help achieve the corporate goals. 

Using lessons from her former employer and experience at The Apprentice Africa show, she is building a successful enterprise in an area that many have shied from. “To start a business you not only have to have a great idea but your great idea must ‘bother’ you to the point where you have no choice but to do something about it.”

Yet it has not been a smooth ride. Ms Mbaya says it is hard getting people to appreciate why they should pay a coach. There is the perception that you are assisting someone and this should be free. But coaching, she adds, is a business and industry like other service industries.


 “There is work involved in developing quality products and programmes and delivering them effectively,” says Ms Mbaya. “Successful coaches often joke that when they meet people who became millionaires after they were positively empowered and impacted by their programmes, they are tempted to ask themselves if they should not have charged more for the services!”

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