Joyce Misoi lived in Canada for 23 years, running her own consultancy, Intercom Associates, and in 2005, she decided to return to Kenya (where she is originally from), to focus on mining. She is currently running her mining consulting company, Kenya Mines Agency Ltd., is the Founder/Chair of the Kenya Miners’ Marketing Cooperative Society, and is also in the initial steps of setting up Women in Mining Kenya. She is testament that when one actively engages in policy and politics one can make a difference and move others.
How did mining come to you?
Tiomin Resources Ltd, a Canadian mining company, had faced about 10 years of difficulties when communicating with the Kenyan government. Tiomin approached me while I was President of the Canada-Kenya Chamber of Commerce, an association I founded in 2005. I accepted the initiative to tackle their pending issues and thus collaborated with the Kenyan government from 2005-09 as Project Co-coordinator & IR Officer for Tiomin. The issues were solved successfully paving the way for Base Titanium to commence its operations in 2012.
Upon leaving Tiomin, I decided to choose mining as a career because I had ample interaction with stakeholders and realized a lot had not been done in the mining sector. It was an eye opener to learn that the mining sector was lagging behind in Kenya.
Having been appointed as the CEO for the Kenya Chamber of Mines in 2008-2010, I used the opportunity to push the government to deal with legal framework. I took the initiative to advocate for the development of the Mining sector in Kenya using various platforms.
I had the opportunity to coordinate a stakeholder forum in view of amending the Mining Bill and was instrumental in pushing for the National Mining Policy, both of which are still in Draft form with the Mining Bill going through debate in Parliament now.
We now have a dedicated Ministry of Mining, which previously sat under the Ministry of Environmental and Mineral Resources.
What is your experience of being a woman working in the mining sector? Did you/do you encounter much discrimination?
It has been a challenge working in the mining sector in Kenya as there aren’t many women in professional positions. Mining has been perceived as a tough sector, shrouded in myths and distrust, because there has never been adequate education and awareness within the citizenship. There is still some discrimination due to the fact that mining is generally believed to be a man’s world.
Have you had mentors and sponsors that helped you on the way?
I have been lucky to work with University Professors from the Geology and Engineering Departments in Nairobi. It has been encouraging, particularly, when I proposed to create a National Cooperative Society for Small scale miners. A few of them thought it was a noble and bold move to be championing mining matters at a time when it was difficult to discuss mining in Kenya. They have always been a sounding board for me on all mining matters.
Could you share one or two challenges you’ve experienced in your career and how you overcame them?
Matching up mine owners with investors has been a challenge due to lack of feasibility studies.
In order to overcome this, I have established a National Cooperative Society in order to bring all players together for purpose of building databases with the help of geologists and sharing information and building networks.
What are you passionate about in your work?
I am passionate about making a difference for mining communities and creating awareness about the mining sector to institutions and corporations that would be potential stakeholders in the extractive industry. My passion is in encouraging the youth to participate in a sector that has been predominantly “old generation”. I believe that most countries have built their economies using the extractive industry.
What would you love to do next?
I would like to start a Kenya Women in Mining chapter. As a former Co-Chair with Women in Mining Toronto, I learned a lot and I believe it would be beneficial to bring professional women and other stakeholders in the mining industry together. It is important to strategize and continue developing the mining industry collectively in collaboration with other WIM chapters across Africa and the world as a whole.
Can you tell us more about the work you do with trying to bring mining to Kenya?
I am currently trying to identify stakeholders in the mining industry such as owners of mining locations, investors and geologists. I have established a National Cooperative society to cater to the over 50,000 small scale miners in Kenya.
I also initiated a programme with Nairobi University with an aim of focusing on industrial mining.
Lastly, I am in the process of reaching out to international companies that are friends of small scale miners and all investors interested in Kenya’s mining sector to collaborate with us. I encourage and welcome companies wishing to donate equipment, expertise and financial help to reach out to us in order to develop the emerging mining sector and create jobs. And I also encourage buyers to purchase Kenya’s minerals in order to contribute to our economic growth.
I wish to take this opportunity to welcome investors, institutions and persons willing to work with us in making a difference in Kenya’s mining sector.
Do you sit on a board? If not would you like to?
I am currently the Founder and Chairperson of the Kenya Miners’ Marketing Cooperative Society.
Indeed, I have had the opportunity to be a Founder and Chair or member of many establishments in Canada.
It would be an honour to participate in an international Board dealing in Mining, I think that would give me the opportunity to share information with many and learn from other members as well.
What is your opinion in the women on boards debate? Are you pro quotas or against them?
I believe that women should be involved in programmes and activities. Participation should be based on the ability to contribute towards issues and solutions. The quota system may be defeating the purpose of making a difference if done for the sake of just filling in positions. Women should be appointed to boards as long as they make contributions that will make a difference in their respective areas.
Do you believe women in mining groups can help to change the image of the industry and make the sector more attractive to women?
Yes. Women in Mining networks are the best platforms for creating awareness about mining matters. This facilitates the sharing of information that would make a difference both on mining matters as well as gender issues.
Due to the growing number of Women in Mining groups across the world, I believe collectively they continue to share diverse experiences, which has contributed to changes in the industry while stressing the fact that women are here to stay in the Mining industry.
What is one thing you wish you’d been told when you were starting out that you know now?
I wish I had been told that Kenya did not have an up-to-date legal framework in the mining sector and that it was difficult to convince institutions on the potential of the sector.
Any advice to young women starting out in their careers?
My advice to young women starting out in the mining sector is that, they should be encouraged and know that linking up with establishments such as Women in Mining among other mining institutions & associations can enhance their careers while building a great network across the world.
I encourage them to think of themselves as leaders first then their career second. Stand tall because you are capable of making a difference as a champion in mining matters in any community!
Be part of Women in Mining and grow!