Rising through determination: Elsie Kwamboka's Journey from Loan Officer to Regional Manager at ASA Kenya

Elsie Kwamboka is a Regional Manager at ASA Kenya stationed in Kisii Region in the southwestern part of Kenya. She narrates her experience from joining as a Loan Officer on 2nd September 2013 when the company commenced operations in Kenya, to rising into higher positions over the years based on strong work ethics, determination, and hard work.

Joining ASA

I learned of an employment opportunity at ASA Kenya through an advertisement in the daily nation newspaper on 2nd August 2013, applied, and was successful in the interview. Armed with a fitting college education in sales and marketing management, it felt right to get a job opportunity as a Loan Officer where high customer interaction is guaranteed and where I could demonstrate my competitive spirit in the market. During the onboarding program, I was moved by the mission of the company, which emphasized bringing significant socio-economic impact to my community through financial inclusion. On listening to the impact success of the ASA model of microfinance in different countries, I could not wait to contribute directly to bring the same impact to my community.

your experience so far?

The orientation enabled me to start off positively and I was happy to meet most of my performance targets. I have always been quick to seek advice from experienced staff which has significantly built my competence and job knowledge from time to time. Working in five different branches over the past ten years, interacting with clients from different socio-economic backgrounds has not only been exciting but also educative-these experiences have enhanced my bilateral communication, public relations, negotiation, analytical and leadership skills. I enjoy working at ASA because it rewards dedicated employees with a platform for career progression. In my case, I have received four different promotions to higher roles. As a leader of a big team now, I utilize my presence to inspire and empower my team members, most of whom I see as my younger self. I enjoy supporting my team so that we all manage our deliverables.

Biggest challenge faced in your career?

When I began my career, I had no dependents. I found it easy to balance the demands of work and of my “single life”. After marrying in 2014 and becoming a mother one year later, my family demanded more of my attention which made it difficult to equally balance my work and family life. I spent a lot of time reflecting and re-strategizing how it could work out smoothly for me. I learned to balance these demands by adjusting my mind to a new routine, strictly adhering to schedules of work and home, and prioritizing important ones at the top. I also make use of rest breaks to restore my energy for the ahead tasks. I really appreciate my colleagues and supervisors who at some point, would easily stand in for me when I had to respond to emergency situations back home like when my young baby developed an all-of-a-sudden fever and I had to break from work to sort the issue. It’s comfortable for me today to offer guidance and the best advice to my female co-workers who are undergoing similar experiences.

Best moments while here?

I realized my happiest moment on 12th September 2022, when I received a letter of promotion to the Regional Manager position-a senior role in the operations department. I wasn't expecting the news, considering the position is male-dominated. I was motivated by the trust demonstrated by the management in assigning me such an important role. Amid the excitement, I took time to reflect on what would be required of me to add value to the position.

Advice to young women starting their careers

I would always advise young women starting their professional life to pen down their life and career goals and use this as a motivation point throughout their experiences. It is best for them to also identify mentors within and outside the workplace who can provide meaningful and timely advice especially when they are facing difficult circumstances.