Oberlin University’s LaunchU Awards ALA Alum $10,000

ALA Class of 2010 alum Sophie Umazi Mvurya has once more made headlines after winning a $10,000 prize from LaunchU, a program that seeks to empower and prepare Oberlin University students, alumni, faculty and staff entrepreneurs to launch their business ventures. Umazi and her co-founder Tyrell Carter pitched Block to the Booth, or what they describe as ‘the Uber for recording studios’, a business venture that offers clients state-of-the-art mobile recording studio service, allowing them to work in the inspiring and nurturing environment of their choice. Block to the Booth was selected from a record-high number of submissions and was one of three pitches selected to be given seed capital. Umazi says the money they won will be used to lay the founding frameworks of the company such as registration, licenses, website and buying basic recording equipment.

Umazi is an artist who is also an entrepreneur. “I love expressing myself because I see the world in different colors, she says. “I see the world in a way in which only art can explain. This could be through music, photography, fashion etc. I am also very passionate about business and so Art business is the heart of my life.”

Umazi graduated from Oberlin in 2016 with an Honors in Politics, a major in Law & Society and minors in Africana Studies and Economics. Her tactical mind set was always at work while being a member of the University’s Strategic Planning and Steering Committee, where she conducted financial analyses of its $800 million endowment and made budgetary recommendations to the Board of Trustees. This culminated in her selection for Stanford University’s prestigious Africa Fellowship MBA program, a platform that ensures she makes her mark on the African continent’s development.

Umazi’s achievements also stretch to social activism. During the turbulent general elections held in her home country Kenya in 2013, Umazi championed ‘I Am Kenyan’, a global youth led peace campaign that brought over 8 million people to unite in response to the threat of violence. This earned her a slot in BBC’s list of ‘Top Ten Teens who Changed the World’ and was interviewed alongside Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai.

Block to the Booth is not the first project to have claimed Umazi’s entrepreneurial energy. During her first year at Oberlin, after struggling to balance school and exercise, she and her friends designed Suzifit, a service that provides personalized dieting and fitness regimens for those who lead busy lives. Through social media, Suzifit instantly enjoyed global popularity, fuelling her passion and enhancing her innovative thinking, a victory in a series of many that led to her most recent one.

Umazi currently works as a Development Fellow at the African Leadership Foundation.