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Faculty spotlight: Meet Dr. Joy Malala

‘I first heard about Strathmore Law School (SLS) when I encountered various people from there during the course of my PhD studies, and I got the distinct impression that it was offering something different from other law schools, that stirred my zeal to be part of it,’ said a delightful Dr. Joy Malala, a young lecturer who recently joined Strathmore Law School. She is teaching Law of Business Association (Company Law) and Law of Contracts to undergraduate students and will teach Banking Law next semester to 4th years.


Dr.  Malala took her undergraduate studies at the University of Leeds where she pursued a LLB course and thereafter proceeded to masters in International Banking and Finance Law at the same university. A little while afterwards, the ambitious young lady embarked on PhD at the University of Warwick.

She undertook a PhD research which was a broad examination of the Safaricom mobile money platform-M-pesa. The research was an in-depth study on the regulation of MPesa and focused on establishing a regulatory framework for mobile money payments in Kenya. She particularly concentrated on financial inclusion issues, focusing on what regulators needed to look out for to protect a financial system.


However, it was not all rosy for the lecturer as she faced challenges while conducting her study. Firstly, the fact that M-pesa has been in existence for 7-8 years, there wasn’t discussion on it and it was therefore very hard to get enough information for her research. Secondly, Dr. Malala was studying about Kenya while studying abroad hence difficulty in accessing information. ‘Writing a thesis is a daunting journey as every scholar will tell you. Many students do give up, others shift focus, 4 years is a long time and I am glad that I progressed to completion.’

Nevertheless, she acknowledges that it was a good experience teaching her resilience and the ability to handle any challenges of life. The lecturer advises those aspiring to undertake PhD to pick a topic that they are passionate about, one that they will be motivated to wake up and write about being a long and tedious process that cannot be done half-heartedly. She added that one should also be interested in research and intense reading of countless books and journal articles to enjoy the process.


After spending four years on PhD, Dr. Malala decided to come back home and use the knowledge she had acquired to serve her country. In her words, she had never considered teaching as a career path until her PhD supervisor assigned her to teach in a masters class at the University of Warwick. With most of her students being older than her, it was daunting but after she got out of the first class, a student remarked that her lesson was outstanding. This filled Dr. Malala with pride and she realized that she could actually teach. The experience of University of Warwick made teaching her first option back in Kenya. ‘I wanted to come to Kenya and make a change’, said Joy. She wanted to be part of Law School and felt that Strathmore University would be the best place to start, to find her voice and begin her career.


Since she begun, she has been teaching for about a month now and comparing her teaching experience at University of Warwick and SLS, the lecturer revealed that students are the same all over the world, as they are inquisitive and always eager to learn. However, she acknowledges that students at SLS are outstanding since they engage more in discussions and are more aware of issues affecting law and society.  Asked about anything new she would like to implement at SLS, a cheerful Dr. Malala said that she was a unique individual and had a unique approach to teaching. ‘It is important to have the content as a prolific academic and absolutely clever, but it is another thing to teach and deliver in a way that students are connected to you as a person, and are engaged in your subject, that is a skill, ’she reckons.


Having spent the last 10 years as a student, Joy takes pride in her achievements – qualifying for PhD under the age of 30, to attain this Dr. Malala studied progressively without taking significant breaks.  ‘It feels good because I now have time to undertake more. If I have already acquired a PhD, then I can do so much more. People usually perceive a PhD as the end of a career venture when they are much older but for me that is not the case. It is out of the way and I can delve into much more.’’  She acknowledges her family, especially her parents for being a source of motivation, her role model is also her family as she admits that each one of her family members has something unique to offer.


During her free time, Dr. Malala likes to spend time with her mother. She loves gardening and has lately developed a desire to start farming vegetables on a small-scale. The lecturer has a great interest in sustainable food consumption and ethical farming and she looks forward to start growing her own food for personal consumption.


She is in the process of publishing her thesis after which she plans to carry out more research with more publications on the way. She hopes to be part of national advisers on financial inclusion policies and consumer protection policies in the future.


We welcome Dr. Malala to the Strathmore family as she begins a new journey at the law school.