Evelyn Kasina on family, cyber security and why “serikali saidia” is never the solution

Like most people in tech, Evelyn, Mumbe to her closest friends, believes the future is digital in every sense of the word. She’s been dabbling in cybersecurity since 2012 and through her company, Eveminet, she seeks to make everyone, including the family unit, digitally literate and safe.

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Eveminet is focused on nurturing talent and passion.”

For those who do not know who you are, kindly share what you do in detail.

In detail, I hope my explanation won’t be too technical, I am often accused of being too Tech. Basically, Eveminet is an IT Firm. We offer Cyber Security which means we develop IT policy frameworks for corporates, businesses and also homes.

We train on the policies, guidelines, and standards to all members of an organization because we believe everyone is a potential vulnerability.

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Once that is done we deploy cybersecurity appliances that may include but are not limited to firewalls, antivirus, anti-malware, SSL certificates just to mention a few.

Do you offer these services beyond the office for your clients?

We have a training arm on the same called digital intelligence where we focus on teens and preteens.

Our curriculum is categorized into three parts

  1. Digital Citizen – Where we focus on equipping the students on how to become digital citizens in this digital ecosystem. The training is grounded in empathy, privacy, cyberbullying, addictions, cybersecurity among others.
  2. Digital Creativity – Where we get to pick the digital ideas the kids have and channel them into positive projects.
  3. Digital Entrepreneurship – we focus on the creative ideas and turn them into business opportunities.

“Digital Entrepreneurship focuses on creative ideas and turn them into business opportunities.”

That’s a very detailed curriculum, is there a reason for this?

Our aim here is to ensure that we break the culture of having our children go to school to be “prescribed” humans. Research shows that very many graduates end up pursuing different interests. Eveminet is focused on nurturing talent and passion.

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After the program, we block unhealthy online content with our security software and hardware like pop-ups and pornography. We also set up screen time and sign a digital creed and a technology contract with the entire family.

Clearly, Eveminet is a company for the whole family, do you have a training programme that focuses specifically on women?

We have a Digital Literacy Training program which is our Social Enterprise, which focuses on Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) including women empowerment, poverty eradication, and education.

“Our hope is to eradicate poverty, that will go a long way in breaking some evil cultures we witness in our society.”

I want to focus on this training you are offering to women, is there an on-going example of this that you could use to describe this?

Well, we are in the process of setting up a Digital Hub in Mwingi, Kitui County. This decision was informed by the levels of poverty I saw there. I spoke to a few people and I realized that they utilize the chamas for table banking which is an amazing initiative, however, they lack information on how they can take advantage of the 30% the government has allocated to women, youth and people with disability. I asked myself how can I empower these women?  And that was the answer, through a digital hub. This is still in progress and we will train the women about computer skills, business acumen, soft skills and most importantly how to leverage on technology by utilizing E-commerce.

How is the initiative going so far?

So far I have mobilized women with the help of my mother. We have helped them get Access to Government Procurement Opportunities (AGPO) and use the money they are saving to get business in Government Offices. What I found surprising is the fact that they never knew that they could walk into a public school as a group and ask to supply chalk.

I would also like to add that our digital hub will not only be an IT hub but will also utilise alternative Energy. We will use solar to light up the place making it affordable and sustainable.

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“I am not a believer of “serikali saidia”, it’s a pathetic mentality.”

Let’s now talk about your leadership talks. What’s your most recent one and why talks, one would say you’re doing enough as is with the women empowerment

Oh, I am not doing enough, I am a beneficiary of leadership training and I believe each one of us is a born leader; in our homes, in our social groups and in society.

I am not a believer of “serikali nisaidie”, it’s a pathetic mentality. We put a lot of pressure on the Government to lead and forget our own responsibility. We are absent parents – gadgets, TV and the Internet are babysitting our children – what outcome do we expect from them? I speak about leadership because I want to emphasise that we all have a role to play. We are not supposed to be “keyboard officers” condemning public leaders but at the same time, for example, littering the roads.

As a beneficiary of Leadership training, how has it helped you?

Leadership training has benefited me in several ways. I have learned how to deal with people better, how to accommodate people’s personalities, how to work within a team or with one, how to accept my weaknesses and how to let my team members handle the things I can’t. Through training, I have sharpened my skills in public speaking, presentation, training and most importantly listening. I have also gotten leadership positions, such as being an IT sector champion at OWIT, Nairobi through training.

“I focus on the agenda, not my gender.”

Let’s backtrack a little bit, how did you start out in the industry?

I meant to do nursing.  I thought nurses looked so cool in their uniform (sighs). Unfortunately, my uncle became ill, was taken to Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) and later passed on. I remember visiting him and witnessing first-hand the kind of work nurses do. That was my turning point; I decided I couldn’t hack it. As I was waiting for my KCSE results my mum suggested I take computer classes – it was such a thing back then. I think after I enrolled and saw how interesting the programs were…well, the rest is history.

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Are there enough women in tech?

We need more women in tech, I cannot say we are enough.

What can be done to improve the odds?

We can mentor more women to take up tech courses. And, thank God for globalization and artificial intelligence. We are lucky to be living in the 21st century where tech is a way of life – literally.

Has your gender ever affected how you are perceived in the IT industry?

Yes, it did! I use past tense because it no longer does. I am at a level in my career where gender, at least for me, is a non-issue and I don’t entertain it in any conversation I have. I can be the only woman in a meeting with over ten men and I will not play the woman card.

“I speak about leadership because we all have a role to play. “

How do you steer the conversation away from the topic of gender?

I focus on the agenda, not my gender.

You look like a woman who enjoys her work, what do you enjoy most about it?

Oh wow! Several things, for one, when my clients are happy because of a service we’ve provided. I have a client who can’t stop talking about the positive impact from one of our programs – impact, impact and more impact. That makes me happy.

“When I am around family, I am peaceful, because of the love and happiness.”

Is work-life balance something you think about?

I have a very strict schedule. My administrative assistant, Beatrice, ensures I follow it (she is tough) and I respect timelines.

Family seems important to you.

It is. I was brought up in a Christian home, and in the armed forces so the environment and our home instilled in me a love of family, as a mother it’s my joy to have a tight family unit. When I am around family, I am peaceful, because of the love and happiness. My parents gave me a home filled with love and I want the same for my kids.

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