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Chris Kirubi offers lessons you will never learn in business class

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CHRIS KIRUBI: Keep your eyes on the goal even when the naysayers keep going on and on of how your efforts will turn out to failure.

Success in life is no easy thing, and that’s why very few are willing to take the long walk. Young people look at successful people and wish they were there. And this wishful thinking is the main reason they remain unsuccessful for the rest of their life.

According to billionaire Chris Kirubi, success is earned and does not depend on luck. “I am a firm believer of the phrase that nothing good is ever served on a silver platter. Great success in your personal and professional life cannot be achieved without putting yourself out there,” writes Kirubi in his column, Ask Kirubi.

“All successful people will definitely have a story to tell of the sacrifices they had to make for them to get to where they are. They will talk about the effort put in, risks they took, losses they incurred and the determination spirit they had to endure the hard times,” he adds.

Mr Kirubi offers details on what makes you so different or special than those who have gone before you, and what will help you achieve your dreams.

Plan & work: The great future you so desire will only come your way if you are willing to work for it. Plan and put in the necessary effort required to achieve your goals and dreams. Map out every detail of the future you want to have. As you do this, remember to be very strategic and realistic while penning down your thoughts.

Research: Know your area of specialization and work towards it. If you are venturing into a new field, make sure you have done some research to acquaint yourself with your new area of specialisation or better still partner with experts who are well versed in that field.

Use your talent: Don’t be afraid to use your talent and passion to stand out and make a living. But remember to sharpen your skills and knowledge time and time again.

More advice from Kirubi

Decide: The current decisions you are making are critical because they will affect the outcome of goals and dreams in one way or another. Don’t spend a lot of time, energy and resources on ventures that are not in line with your aspirations. Save yourself the time by knowing what you truly want and work towards that purpose.

Focus: Maintain your focus even when the going gets tough. Keep your eyes on the goal even when the naysayers keep going on and on of how your efforts will turn out to failure. Many people thought that developing a mall like Two Rivers was rather too ambitious.

We were interested in showing the world that Kenya can have world class malls like Dubai while attracting international retail stores to invest in Kenya. We took in the criticism and made sure we prove our critics wrong. We worked on our plan, improved the original blueprint and kept our focus. Our dream continues even as we try to complete the whole Two Rivers Development.

Take responsibility: Remember the world is yours for the taking and you are fully responsible for the great future you so desire. Your past does not define your future; but your present actions and decisions will definitely affect your future. Get that education, follow that dream, sharpen that skill and see where your efforts will take you. Choose your future today.

NEXT: Billionaire Chris Kirubi set to buy a private jet

Editor and writer at BUSINESS TODAY, Muli has a passion for human interest stories that have a big impact on economic development. He holds a BSc in Communication and Journalism from Moi University and has worked for various organisations including Kenya Television Service. Email: [email protected] or [email protected]

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Business Unusual

Kenyans rearing crickets to meet growing demand for special proteins

The cost of establishing a basic system is about Ksh3,096 (US$30), in addition to the cost of the initial breeding colony

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A kilogramme of crickets can sell for approximately Ksh516, according to those rearing them.

When Jane Mbiriri’s granddaughter was diagnosed with acute malnutrition six months ago, she had limited knowhow on the best remedy for the condition and only wallowed in self-pity in her humble house located in rural central Kenya.

The 62-year-old farmer was at wit’s end having no stable source of income to afford a balanced diet for the granddaughter as recommended by the physician. Mbiriri is currently raising three of her grandchildren following the demise of her only daughter one year ago.

However, her search for an affordable and sustainable source of protein for her granddaughter led her into discovering cricket flour which, as she puts it, got her granddaughter’s growth curve back on track. Scientists have in the past cited crickets as a great source of protein compared to soya beans and beef, which are among the conventional sources of proteins.

Cricket floor

In Mbiriri’s case, the insects, which are slowly finding their way into Kenyan recipes, have proved their worth. “At first when a friend recommended cricket flour and promised to get me some from her source in western Kenya, I almost turned down the offer since I had never heard of it,” Mbiriri told Xinhua. “But my options were limited. My dairy cows do not earn me enough to afford the kind of food these children are supposed to eat.”

She has since embraced cricket flour, which has immensely improved her granddaughter’s health, and is contemplating on rearing the insects herself. “In our last visit to the doctor one month ago, I was very happy with the results as my grandchild has now gained weight unlike previous visits,” Mbiriri said. “The cricket flour is not as expensive as other flours and now that I have established a relationship with the supplier, I get discounts from time to time,” she said.

Initially she bought the cricket flour from a farmer in western Kenya but she has now established a new source not far from her home, where cricket farming is gaining traction.

READ: Cockroach milk more nutritious more than cow’s
SEE: Raila’s daughter makes millions from farming snails

“I also plan to venture into cricket farming, which from what I see is paying more even than dairy farming as the crickets are not capital intensive,” Mbiriri said.

She belongs to a growing army of small holder farmers who have gradually embraced cricket farming.

Joseph Kairu took up cricket farming recently. The cost of establishing a basic system is about Ksh3,096 (US$30), in addition to the cost of the initial breeding colony of crickets.

To start such a colony, at least 200 crickets are required, and the colony should not be used for feeding until well established and the first babies mature into adults.

Kairu, who has a bachelor’s degree in nutrition, saw a rising demand for cricket flour as an alternative source of protein for people residing in rural areas. “I come across so many cases of malnourished children. I realized there is a need for alternative sources of protein after a recent assignment in Turkana, where for every 10 babies that I attended to, more than seven suffered from high protein-energy malnutrition,” Kairu told Xinhua.

ALSO SEE: How to choose fats that improve your health

Even though most Kenyans are still debating on whether to embrace alternative eating habits, there are those like Mbiriri and Kairu doing it and seeing the results. “There is a group of women in western Kenya who are already earning huge income from cricket farming and that is where I got some of the tips on cricket rearing,” Kairu said.

Members of the group, made of 20 farmers, rear crickets each on their own but market their products collectively.

One of their clients is a leading hotel in Kisumu. “This is where I came across the different ways in which the crickets can be prepared,” Kairu said.

According to Kairu, a kilogramme of crickets can sell for approximately Ksh516. “We are still far from embracing such alternative sources of vital nutrients, but with proper marketing and heath campaigns, I believe Kenyans will respond positively,” said Kairu.

READ: 20 things in your house that are dirtier than the toilet seat

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Entertainment

Going wild in waters and making money from it

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There is a reason why Mombasa’s Wild Waters is regarded as paradise. The entertainment spot located along Links Road in Nyali just next to Mamba Village Park has everything for everyone looking for happy times.

It has as many as 15 adult and kids’ water slides and enough water play stations. This huge paradise will have you and your kids enjoying yourselves hours on end. There are sports and dance bars for adults to enjoy as well as a video arcade that caters for those who wish to just sit back and relax.

Wild Waters also houses a conference center seminar room, both of which can be rented out for meetings. The venue is perfect for birthdays, school day outs, corporate day outs, team buildings and even weddings.

Taking you back to the beginning….

“The driving force of building the Wild Waters theme park was to build a state-of-the art Family Entertainment Centre to serve both local and international tourists,” stated Shaileen Shah, who is the marketing executive at the park.

Many a times, people would travel to various countries for the sake of the water theme parks hence the decision to construct one in order to attract the tourists back into the country. In order to build a theme park, one needs a huge amount of land as well as finances for it is not a cheap commodity.

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Five reasons to spoil yourself without feeling guilty
Eight very affordable weekend getaways to relax your mind

The land on which Wild Waters is built once used to be a quarry that has been abandoned for 40 years. The quarry was transformed from wasteland into the facility that it is right now.

Its construction saw the empowerment of the people of Mombasa as the locals were given the job to build the park as well as the fact that they sourced the staff from the coastal city when it begun operations.

A-kid-slide-300x169 Going wild in waters and making money from it

A kid sliding at the park. Wild Waters will have you and your kids enjoying yourselves hours on end. Credit: Courtesy

Building and maintaining the park did not come easy as there were several challenges from designing the Waterpark, importing parts to clearing the site. Setting up the slides and rides was not a walk in the park either due to lack of technical know-how locally. It seemed more like rocket science but they eventually got engineers who understood the basics. Hiring the right staff from the managerial positions all the way down to the life guards, waiters, cooks and gardeners was also quite a challenge when assessing their competency.

ALSO SEE: How to generate business ideas that works for you

“We needed to hire people who understood the job and also those would work well with other staff. I was not about to hire a lifeguard who doesn’t know how to swim if you know what I mean”, said Mr Shah.

One of the biggest challenges was figuring out the right price point for entry tickets that would in turn bring in profits to the facility. The entry fee is Ksh1,400 per slider and Ksh300 for non-sliders which are a fair amount because people get value for it.

No competition

Being the largest Waterpark facility in Kenya is an advantage in that with no competition, many water lovers seek it out for entertainment. Wild Waters offers an attraction like no other focusing on high quality entertainment and customer service ensuring guests leave with memorable experiences.

But the park has also faced its share amount of hard times. After the 2007/08 post-election violence, piracy threats and terrorism threats, the total volume of tourism in Kenya, both local and international, dropped significantly. This was a serious blow because the park’s major source of income comes from tourists. With high operating expenses and high financing costs, the business was burning cash with no returns. When you spend more than you earn in your business, you end up experiencing huge losses.

A-kid-slide-300x169 Going wild in waters and making money from it

Customers having a good time at Wild Waters theme park in Mombasa. Credit: Courtesy

There is also the low season whereby there are not too many customers. During this period, the park diversifies its offerings to minimise losses during low season. The diversification includes offering corporate activities including conferencing, team building, and corporate dinners. This has the park staying active all year round.

 Helping hand

Wild Waters extends a helping hand to many charitable organisations free of charge, thus giving disadvantaged children access to an experience they would never otherwise have in their lives. An example of the Tumaini Children’s Home.

Mamba Village is often regarded as Wild Waters’s main competition by Mr Shah says they offer a differentiated product range that is complementary to Mamba Village’s offerings and not exactly a substitute.

Related: New Sh3 billion hotel opens in Kilifi

“Competition is also healthy and there still remains a cordial relationship between the two companies. We assist them whenever they require our assistance and vice versa,” stated Mr Shah.

“I love Wild Waters Park. I have been coming here since 2012.  It is a great place to chill. I go to the slides during the day, and ride the bumper cars at night. Their food is also good. My best time of the year is during New Year’s Eve because the slides are open at night,” gushed Philip Ngila, a Wild Waters Park fanatic.

Asking Mr Shah what next for Wild Waters, he responded by saying that they are working on more rides and better entertainment.

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Entrepreneurs

31-year-old who makes Sh20 million in a bad month

And at the age of 27 years, he built his first residential house, a two bedroom unit, which he sold at Sh1.6 million (SCROLL DOWN TO READ ARTICLE)

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Andrew Kamau: Founder and CEO of Dinara Developers Limited.

For 31-year-old Kenyan Andrew Kamau, selling building materials was all his day’s work diary would read a few years ago. The city’s high-end estates — Lavington, Kileleshwa and Runda — provided him with a reliable stream of customers.

“I used to supply sand, ballasts, stones from Ndarugu quarry and from the little earnings, I was able to raise Sh300,000 savings,” said Mr Kamau, adding that in 2009 a piece of stone was going for Sh36 and he would sell about 1,200 units in a good day.

Armed with his savings, Mr Kamau bought a two-and-a-quarter-acres at Makongeni, in Thika at Sh3.5 million. He paid Sh350,000 deposit and after sub dividing it, he sold the plots, paid the land owner the balance and made Sh3.5 million profit.

Buoyed by the impressive returns, he shifted gears and started buying land, constructing houses and selling them. His first housing project was near Kenyatta University where he bought half-an-acre and built 49 bed sitters on half of the plot and sold the other to finance the construction. The units sold at Sh250,000 each earning him over Sh12 million.

And at the age of 27 years, he built his first residential house, a two bedroom unit, which he sold at Sh1.6 million. Today, Mr Kamau, 31, is the brains behind Green View Apartments, Diamond Heights in Kikuyu, Mashariki Park Project, Mazuri site Apartments in Thika, Kajiado and a multi-million shillings 36 house units project at Thindigua on Kiambu Road.

SEE: Karen vs. Runda – which is the coolest place to live?

At Dinara Developers Limited, the real estate company he started in 2009 that he runs together with co-director Francis Wachira Muguku, he says, apartment prices range between Sh2.5 million for a one bedroom house and Sh12 million for a three bedroom unit.

“I make between Sh20 million and Sh25 million per month. Real estate is the place to be,” he says. His tale can be best described as dust to riches story that has seen him set Nairobi’s thriving real estate business alight.

Amassing wealth

“I want to remove this notion among young people and the old generation that one can only be a millionaire and own a house at a certain age,” he said at his 2,500-square-feet office at Sound Plaza on Woodvale Groove, in Westlands, Nairobi.

Last year, when he went searching for land in Kiambu County to put up houses, he bumped onto a landlord who was selling a three-quarter acre at Sh70 million. However, he was shocked when the seller refused to accept his fat pay cheque. “She looked at me and asked, ‘young man, when did you start working to amass such wealth?’ I was shocked,” said the alumni of Thika High School.

READ: Two guys who are squeezing cash from fruits

He says this is one of the most irritating question he keeps getting while transacting millions of shillings, especially with the old generation.
But where did he raise the Sh70 million? “The proceeds were raised from 169 apartments, which we constructed last year at Thika and sold at Sh2.5 million each. We raked in over Sh400 million,” said Mr Kamau. He said phase two of the project — where 250 units will be set up — is in the pipeline.

Mr Kamau attributes his success to having a stable family: “My wife, who was my client before I married her, has contributed immensely to the success of this firm. When I am faced with tricky business challenges she is always there to listen to me,” says Mr Kamau
Besides a strong family support, he says he has learnt that honesty is vital.

“If you say the size of the house is 100-square-feet, you must deliver that size because anything short of that is outright theft,” he said.

So what keeps him going?

“Doing a clean business. Without being honest, you won’t last long and this is what I strive to achieve every day. I value my customers and their feedback.”

His future plan is to develop his office block within the city. “Our monthly rent is Sh400,000 but this will be a thing of the past in the next two years as we shall put up our own office block,” he said.

The developer is targeting Thika, Kikuyu, Gitaru, Thindigua, Ruiru and Kajiado to put up housing units this year. As it seeks to cement its presence in the real estate sector, Dinara Developers has set its sight on listing in the Nairobi Securities Exchange by 2030.

READ: Kenyan techie develops his version of Facebook

House buyers at Dinara Developers are not required to pay any deposit and it is this unique business tactic that has seen the entrepreneur build an empire whose current estimate value is in excess of Sh1 billion.

“The dream of many people is to own a house but what they lack is deposit. At Dinara Developers, if we are constructing a house within 18 months or any period, we ask you to pay whatever amount within that period and this is what has attracted many customers.”

Surprisingly, Mr Kamau said that his company has never sought a bank loans.

Challenges

“We plough back our profits. We have deliberately avoided bank loans because of the high interest rates, which will obviously be passed on to the customers. In the past two years we have earned very little as a company because huge chunk of Sh300 million profits we make per year is invested back in our projects,” he added.

The firm whose name means rich in Russia also owns a fleet of lorries, which transport building materials from its quarries, further cutting down the cost of construction. Like other players, Dinara Developers is grappling with inadequate skilled manpower. The company started with three staff and now has employed 40.

SEE: Mtumba dealer who rose to become fashion designer

However, its biggest challenge has been impromptu change of policies by corrupt county government officials. “One day a county official tells you that your lorry should not carry more than 20 tonnes of stones beyond a certain point. The other issue is the re-zoning, which has disrupted our building plans, costing us millions of shillings,” he added.

The most unique hurdle, however, is the lack of trust from land owners, who dismiss him as a young person not worth conducting huge business. (Source: The Founder)

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Entrepreneurs

Emmah Amoni: Mtumba dealer turned fashion designer

From selling mitumba in college to making clothes at home, Emmah’s business expanded beyond Kenya’s shores to the United States and Brazil.

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Daystar University student Emmah Amoni Wambugu (left). She designs and produces her clothes from home but wants to expand it soon. Credit: Courtesy

For Emmah Amoni Wambugu, a self-made designer and image consultant who runs Touyet Fashions, passion, creativity and a go-getter spirit are part of her brand.  “I quit sodas and processed juices because they are unhealthy for me,” she kicked off what turned out to be a revealing interview as she poured the glass of fresh juice for me. Her story is one of a straight up hustler who found a way to make it on her own.

Her story is one of perseverance and endurance. Before she founded Touyet Fashions, Emmah, 24, started off by selling second-hand clothes to colleagues at Daystar University, where she is studying communication.

As a true go-getter, Emmah is known to walk around with copies of her Curriculum Vitae. One time, when she was in a bus heading to town, she noticed a queue at the Junction Mall. Following her instincts, she got out of the bus; asked around and was told that there was an interview going on at the Artcaffe. She immediately got a job as a waitress.

Because she was still in school, she registered for night classes. She used the salary she got from her new job to expand her business.

ALSO SEE: Uhuru’s stylist opens men’s fashion shop

Like most entrepreneurs, she thought ahead. The money she got would enable her invest in fabrics. Emmah asked her mum for her old sewing machine and with her previous efforts, she was half way to realising her dream. The only thing she was left to do was to learn how to stitch. In high school, she had majored in the arts and hence had no practical sewing skills.

“As a dedicated learner, I would go to my tailor’s place of work in Kawangware every single day, sit with him the entire day so that he could teach me how to stitch,” she said with such fire in her eyes. YouTube was also part of her learning because she would watch DIY videos online.

With her new set of skills, she got to work. Emmah would make her own outfits and wear them to occasions such as church functions and weddings. Literally, she became a walking advertisement. With time, Emmah’s clothes business expanded beyond Kenya’s shores to the United States and Brazil thanks to networking with a couple of her foreign friends. Her pastor also helped her out along the way.

emmah-amoni Emmah Amoni: Mtumba dealer turned fashion designer

Emmah Amoni Wambugu:  Plans to start a fashion magazine company in future.

Her business helped her pay university fees for herself and her sister as well as take care of various domestic needs. She was getting her way out of the reliance lane and she vowed not to ask her parents for even a single cent.

Related: Kenyan fashionistas to sell goods on eBay

There have been some challenges along the way such as customers not paying for products bought on credit, people complaining about her products’ price tag as well as pressure to meet deadlines with no express charges. “Some customers always want unique products but get heavy-hearted when it comes to paying the price!” she exclaimed.

Emmah’s uniquely designed outfits vary from a price tag of Ksh1,500 to Ksh6,000. Currently, she works from home but has plans to move to an office space in order to expand her business. By doing so, she will also have to hire personnel to increase on her productivity numbers. “At the moment, I am learning embroidery because I want to make modern outfits with an African feel,” she added.

READ: Monkey: Male fashion house known by a nickname

With the interview almost over, she headed out to the kitchen to serve us some food. “By the way, I am a food fanatic. I love to cook and bake. I used to sell my pastries a while back. I told you I have the spirit of a hustler,” she happily stated. What can’t this lady do? When I asked her what advice she can give to people who want to follow her footsteps, Emmah said that one has to be patient, have the drive and the hustle power. In terms of finances, she stated that one should plan for the money they don’t have; think of what to do with the money before it comes.

What most successful business people start with is the plan, and then the money comes after. Emmah plans to start a fashion magazine company in future. She told this writer that she has so many plans ahead of her. “I am not fit for the office job. As I graduate next year, I want to be my own boss and run things my way. Watch out for me”, she stated. There is nothing as powerful as a person knowing what they are doing.

You can reach her on Facebook at Emmah Amoni Wambugu.
NEXT: PATRICIA KINGORI: Africa’s hope lies in entrepreneurship

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