Debbie Muriuki, February 2020


"We only just got started!" – introducing Debbie, Rebel Kenya

Earlier this year she joined Rebel Kenya as their first employee, after entrepreneur-Rebel Rob Winters set up the first East-African branch of the company in 2018. With a background in traditional finance, Debbie took a leap of faith and ended up exactly where she wanted to be: at the forefront of a the new type of Kenyan workplace (with a hint of Dutch), building more sustainable societies with impact finance.

What makes you a Rebel?

I like to think outside the box and I take unconventional steps to solve problems.

Tell us about the Rebel culture.

Rebel culture is very different – in a good way. There’s a very open culture where everyone’s voice is heard. Most employees in other organizations struggle with that.

Rebel culture is also very entrepreneurial. There’s the aspect of owning your work, taking initiative in what you do – which drives the result you see. It’s different from your typical vanilla-company, where as an employee, you receive instructions. At Rebel you are your own. You drive your own results. You are accountable to yourself in the first place.

What potential do you see for this ‘rebellious’ perspective on work and the workplace in Kenya?

We find ourselves in an ever-evolving culture and environment. The typical, conventional work environment is being disrupted. In Kenya, companies are seeking out avenues for more engagement and involvement at the workplace – whilst still maintaining optimum productivity levels amongst employees.

Rebel has already cracked the code. They immersed the unconventional culture which many other companies are seeking – or struggling to implement in their cultural context. A culture that promotes diversity and inclusivity whilst maintaining every individual’s authenticity. A culture that challenges the usual corporate culture. The Rebel vibe is a great case study for any organization in the East Africa region that is looking to move with the changing times- because they are changing rapidly!

How did you end up at Rebel?

My background is traditional finance, investment. I was in a point in my career where I wanted to transition. I was looking to apply my skills in finance and make an impact in the world at the same time. I came across Rebel on LinkedIn and immediately noticed the emphasis on sustainable project financing for the infrastructure challenge in Africa.

With a background in traditional finance, moving to Rebel seems like a big leap: why’d you take it?

I rather call it a case of expanding my scope. There is an integral part of finance that is blended in the kind of projects undertaken by Rebel. The perfect balance and mix between working on impact and projects whilst applying my financial skills, that is what intrigued me. Joining Rebel has actually made me expand and integrate my financial skills from traditional finance to impact related finance, which is dynamic and exciting at the same time.

Where do you see Rebel Kenya in 10 years from now?

Rebel happens to have set up shop in the East African market at a very opportune and exciting time for the region. A time when most of the East African governments are pursuing initiatives that promote public-private partnerships to support regional developments. And also, a time when infrastructural development is on the rise within different sectors of the economy: housing, health, urban development and transport.

The opportunities for partnerships and collaboration in the East African region are numerous. As a thought leader and an experienced player in this field, this is a golden opportunity for Rebel to rise as a leading market player in financial advisory. Watch this space… in 10 years from now, Rebel East Africa will be a full-fledged, highly sought-after operation in development. We only just got started!

What is rebellious about Rebel’s approach to infrastructure funding and project financing?

Rebel’s approach to all facets of working projects is to be unique, to be authentic and to not state the obvious… challenging the status quo, because “There is no change without a Rebel”

I heard you make an impact in your free time as well.

I mentor young vulnerable girls from disadvantaged backgrounds across Africa through an initiative called the Global Give Back Circle. Girls across the region face challenges to finishing their education, such as teenage pregnancies and early marriage. The program encourages girls to pursue their education all the way to university plus instill in them to give back to the community. I currently mentor 2 brilliant girls pursuing their university education.

Young Expert Programmes convening, The Hague, February 2020
As a Rebel you also participated in the Young Expert Programmes earlier this year. Do you want to share something about your experience?

The Young Expert Programmes is focused mostly on water, energy, food, with most experts coming from the NGO sector. But they wanted to bring in expertise from the financial sector as well. The program helps you develop your professional expertise and your skills in the energy/water/food nexus. It is very much aligned with Rebel’s mission.

What I found most striking is that everybody in the program is truly committed to being a global citizen. With participants from Asia, the Netherlands and Africa, we all had very different backgrounds. But they somehow all seemed to interrelate and interconnect in our mission to drive change in development cooperation. We all came together with a common goal in mind. 

This connected beautifully to the social impact projects I’ve been involved with at Rebel: identifying financial instruments for the nexus approach projects in the Global South, for example.

P.s. Rebel East Africa is hiring! Are you a consultant/entrepreneur with experience? Check out the vacancy

Text by Iris Weges | More information / get in touch: Debbie Muriuki

Rebel East Africa (Kenya) is always looking to connect with fellow sustainability entrepreneurs – get in touch!