Rajiv Daya began his career in management consulting and investment banking and expected to move into private equity. However, after turning down a move to London for Nairobi, he decided to focus on access to finance for small to medium-sized enterprises instead.
This unexpected change resulted in a complete shift in his personal and professional outlook and philosophy. Daya says if he had moved to London, he would never have had the exposure and learnt so much.
“I now spend my time combining these worlds in a way that inspires me and allows me to use the skills I have developed in a more meaningful way with aspiring entrepreneurs,” he says.
The move to Nairobi wasn’t the first time that Daya learnt something unexpected about himself and the world. He attended Oxford University to learn more about global thought leadership, expecting to absorb knowledge from countries such as the United States, Japan and China. Instead, he came out of his study experience with an appreciation for South African and African capability.
“This pride gave me a newfound sense of appreciation for the experience that we have gained on the continent and how we are building a generation of leaders, despite the subdued backdrop of criticism,” he says.
Daya says he wants to contribute to a South Africa that recognises both challenges and opportunities, and is better equipped to manage these. He says a culture of learning needs to be fostered, which will help to create a more level playing field, through challenging the status quo in social, political and economic structures.
“The goal is for my work to have an impact in creating a more level playing field, at first, and then, over time, to be more directly focused on the holistic education and learning experience,” he says.