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Turning my hobbies into a career; Nilma Shah, Business Development Manager, Fuzu.

If I need to get things done, I just do it, no time to fear for failure

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If I need to get things done, I just do it, no time to fear for failure

Personality of the week: Nilma Shah, Fuzu’s Business Development Manager. 


  • Nilma Shah, Fuzu’s Business Development Manager, is one of the most proactive team members.

  • She has a great passion for entrepreneurship and business development and this has enabled her to turn some of her hobbies into careers.

  • She is also the definition of a risk taker and a self-starter which can be attested by her bold move of starting a restaurant at Nairobi International Airport (currently known as Jomo Kenyatta International Airport - JKIA) at the age of 21 years immediately after graduating.

  • She has been able to build incredible career defined by her desire to ‘find practical and sustainable solutions to social and business problems’.


Passion is the most important trait of a determined Business Developer. They genuinely love their work and are not thwarted by failures. Once in a while, we share stories of Fuzu’s team members to let you in on what is going on at Fuzu. In this week’s ‘Personality of the week’ feature, we are going to delve into Nilma Shah's career journey, touching edges on her personal life to learn and understand the ways of a Business Developer.

Here is the story of the lady with a charming smile and exquisite personality. 

Away from work, who is Nilma Shah? 

I am an entrepreneurial person who is keen on striking a great balance between my professional and personal life. I consider myself a social butterfly because I like and I’m great at connecting with people (so you need to keep an eye on me, otherwise I will be gone in a sec!). Some of My favourite fun activities are camping, hiking, water sports and my favourite drink is whiskey.

You are the brains behind Café d’ Port and NJ Events. Tell us a little bit about these companies and how interest in entrepreneurship got started? 

I founded Café d’ Port because hospitality was something I was always keen on; food and drinks connect people and make people happy. It was located at Nairobi International Airport (currently known as Jomo Kenyatta International Airport - JKIA). My interest stemmed from the desire to provide an affordable and cosier experience for people to enjoy and socialise. I thought I should start something nice by myself which fulfilled my hobby. I had also noticed that there was a gap in the food industry here in Kenya immediately after I had graduated i.e. nice food, drinks and good services.

Besides that, I come from a very entrepreneurial family. So, starting something by myself was very natural.

Art, especially theatre, has always had a special place in my heart. I created NJ Events so that I could address social issues such as mental disorder, physical disabilities, depression, rape, HIV, etc. I thought the best way to address these issues was through drama and theatre. When I started NJ events, there was no other educative show or entertainment business that people can go and enjoy.

Nilma hiking at Mt. Suswa.

What would you consider the biggest failure during your career and what did you learn from it? 

For me, it is tough to say what is a failure though I have had many downtimes. But eventually, I made them work. However, if you ask me, the toughest moment, I would say starting my own restaurant at the age of 21, after I lost my dad who was an incredible support system. I had to learn how to be strong on my own. I realized I was accountable and responsible for myself. If I need to get things done, I just do it, no time to fear for failure. I have also learnt to consistently keep on trying to improve myself.        

What profession other than business development would you like to attempt?

I want to be a doctor someday; I love treating people. My boyfriend can attest to this, I’m cuddling and handling him well lol. But on a serious note, I know how to make people feel better, which is in line with my hospitality interest. Also, a good number of my family members are in the medical profession!

Fun Fact - I watched my own appendix surgery happening and then did further research on it. 

What are the best resources that have helped you along the way?

People have always been my go-to and best resources especially my late dad, my family and close friends.

Nilma hiking at Mt. Suswa. 

Tell me something that's true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

The fact that I do have Italian blood in me! And that I’m actually a lawyer - almost impossible to be argumentative. 

What qualities should someone who aspires to have a successful career in business development have? 

Emotional intelligence - you need to know how to manage people and be able to say your story in their language. Make them feel they said that, not you. Listen first and then find common ground.

Written by

Kelvin Mokaya

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