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Dorine Akinyi: How this daring Kenyan built a mechanical engineering empire in Lubumbashi

October 13, 2018
Collins Ogutu
for Chams Media Digital

Many people still fail to believe that today, women have taken up roles that were in the past considered men’s. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, within a city called Lubumbashi, is a lady of this sort. She is known as ‘Mama Radiator.’ But her real name is Dorine Akinyi.

Dorine Akinyi is a lady who traveled by bus for four days from Nairobi with only Ksh. 50,000 five years ago. But now, she has an established business. She repairs many types of radiators and this is what has sustained her stay in Lubumbashi.

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Many people used to take their spoilt radiators for fixing in Ndola, a city in Zambia, some 10km away before they knew of her work.

Currently, she has a contract to service fourteen of these radiators. At the same time, she has fourteen employees on her payroll. While she is busy working, one of her clients walks in to collect his radiator. He is pleased with the results.

“She is good since she has really reduced the costs to what we can afford,” he says.

Mama radiator was born in Vihiga County in Western Kenya. She studied for a secretarial job after which she was assigned a job in a manufacturing company. In 1994, she joined Sagu radiators then joined City radiators. She worked with them for a year.

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Eventually, because of the dream she had of  owning a business, she started her business in her own backyard. A friend later advised her to come here and in 2011 onward she has been here.

“I started from scratch in a foreign country, with new language, new people, a new city…it was tough,” she says.

She contributes a lot of money back home since she has to buy a lot of materials in materials. Being a single mother of three, she still has a dream to start manufacturing her own radiators in DRC.

For her, making it in life is not about the amount of money you have and despite her challenges, due to her passion, she overcame all of them.
She advises that for any job, one should be honest, be faithful and leave the rest to God.


Lavender Amunga contributed to this review. 

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