When Kenyans Come Home caught up with Jacob Okoth recently, he was about to catch a return flight after a few days of doing business in Uganda.
As the Managing Director, Africa for D.Light, a company that delivers affordable solar-powered solutions designed for the developing world, Jacob has spent the last year launching the business in Uganda to great results. Within nine months of signing up their first customer, the company's Uganda branch became profitable.
“We have been able to replicate our success in Kenya in Uganda very fast,” he said. "It’s been a fantastic journey.”
Kenyans Come Home placed Jacob in his role less than 2 years ago, but he has already made some impressive strides since taking over as Managing Director. He has always been a an ambitious achiever who writes goals down then makes them happen. In his resume, for example, he explicitly states that his single career objective is to be a CEO.
But working at D. Light also checks off an unexpected, yet fulfilling objective for him: the ability to use his work to give back. In his role, he sees the direct impact of his company on everyday people’s lives. By offering solar-powered solutions for people without access to reliable electricity, he sees the immediate effect when they buy and use D.Light's products.
"At this point in my career and age—I am 47 years old—I am self-assured and know what I want. And I feel like it’s important that I give back to the community one way or another and this role was perfect for that."
His position has also allowed Jacob to tap into his entrepreneurial spirit in ways he did not expect. Although D. Light is now 14 years old, it still has the many makings of a startup given that D. Light is a market leader in a very young industry.
”I like creating opportunities out of nothing, and creating businesses out of scratch," he said. "I think that’s my sweet spot: no dollars to millions of dollars."
It is a combination of all these things — giving back to the community while also hitting profit goals—that drives his passion for the work he does.
"You need to do what you like," he said. "You need to do what your heart beats for. You need to do what you are passionate about. You could be skilled, and you could have the experience. But without passion, you won't achieve excellence and you won't push yourself to the limit."