Man Around Nairobi: Ian Chewaini


Today on Man Around Nairobi we feature Ian Chewaini. Ian Chewaini works in advertising & shopper marketing at Ogilvy Africa. He loves sports, rugby especially (Team Quins), travelling, having an appropriate time with friends as well as hosting and planning events. What drives him is turning a challenge into an opportunity and keeping a positive mindset while at it. He says you should always be thankful.

1. Did you grow up in Nairobi?

I was born and raised in Buru, Phase 4 to be specific. Growing up in Buru had its challenges but I was lucky to be raised in a loving & supportive family. I learnt from Buru what humility, friendship, yardwork, determination, support and confidence means and how to apply them in my day to day life. We didn’t have everything growing up but not a day would go by without sharing a laugh and bonding which until today makes me thankful for the small things in life that keep us going.

The structure of the old Buru Buru was very well thought out and a very good place to be raised in. We were one big happy community and we learnt what respect and discipline meant. My pals’ parents were my parents hence we grew up with a lot of respect for the older people and discipline was paramount. I was allowed to be a kid. We would play outside with neighbors, and get dirty. I would leave the house at 8 am and would only go back for a 10min lunch break then I would be back at it until 6pm. We built very strong friendships that is still there to date with a lot of my neighbours.

We played a lot of football and went bike riding. We played hide and seek, bending (lol), rounders, chobo ngoto, British Bulldog, and we also built villages with Cypress trees.

2. What do you love about Nairobi?

I love the people of Nairobi. They are very friendly, accommodating, hardworking and they are a funny lot. The lifestyle too is amazing. If you are into sports, arts, nature or clubbing, Nairobi is that place #NairoBAE.

It’s a concrete jungle but if you put your mind to it, your hustle will thrive. Great opportunities are available in this city but you just have to be focused and you will get what you want.

3. What would you change about Nairobi?

Traffic of course and insecurity. I am 10min away is not a statement you can use in Nairobi. Regarding security, we have good places in Nairobi but we often avoid them due to insecurity like Pynts in Buru has very good nyama but if that’s the plan it’s often met with the Buru ni kutricky msee!!

Yangu ya macho? It should be an act of kindness not a prerequisite of getting the job or deal.

4. As a professional how is it working in Nairobi? Is Nairobi open to what you do or what could be better?

Nairobi is starting to open up in terms of careers. We see individuals and groups make a decent living from events, music, fashion, sports, digital media and the likes, things that 10 years ago were not considered as revenue streams. Times are definitely changing and dynamism is key to survival.

There is huge opportunity in advertising. I am in client service and it’s the relationships you build with your clients and passion for their business that determine your growth. Even for new business, the 1st impression matters a lot so it’s always about carrying yourself well as a team and delivering what you have promised your client. Different clients have different expectations and it’s all about learning how to manage them.

The biggest challenge in advertising is having a tough hide. We have many challenges from client demands but it’s all about maintaining a positive relationship and a cool head at all times. In terms of advertising as a career, a lot of sacrifice goes into it. Late nights, tight deadlines, managing teams but in the end, there is always joy in delivering work, seeing it rolled out and performing well in the market. It reminds you why you do it in the first place.

5. If you had a tourist friend coming in from outside the country what three things would you say to sell them the idea that Nairobi is worth visiting?

The People, The Lifestyle and street culture. Oh, and we have a National Park not a zoo.

People. The people are very friendly and supportive. It is easy to make genuine friends around Nairobi.

Lifestyle. Daily there is an event going on which caters to different target audiences. From Arts, Music & Sports, there is always a plan.

Street culture. You can express yourself through your own talent. The Matatu culture which is the Icon of Nairobi has seen people like Matwana Culture rise and become an inspiration to the youth through programs like Blaze. Arts and Fashion has also been on the rise in Nairobi. Guys like @2ManySiblings express themselves through fashion and bring out the street culture very well.

If you would like to interact with Ian you can find him on twitter at @chewaini and Instagram. He is also on Facebook.

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Potentash Founder. A creative writer and editor at Potentash. Passionate about telling African stories. Find me at [email protected]


  1. Cheers Rayhab.
    Hopw you are doing fine. As usual, i enjoyed the read. keep it up.

    Who could help me come up with an affordable (cost-wise ) blog? Please refer
    me to someone reliable.

    Fred Ndung’u,
    SMEs Today Magazine (recall LG event and Oxygene party?)