Janet Chepkoech, an informal trader in Kericho town, is making a kill from selling porridge. Janet has been distributing porridge to local traders and in government offices over the last five years, enabling her to pay school fees for her two children, who are now in high school.
“The firstborn wants to be a doctor and the last born wants to be a lawyer. I am determined to give them the best with the little I earn. That is why I wake up at 4 am every day to prepare porridge and chapatis to sell,” explains Ms Chepkoech.
Despite the hardships Chepkoech says she earns at least Ksh4000 daily from this business. “On a good day, I sell 10 litres of porridge which includes 5 litres of fermented and 5 litres of unfermented porridge with a cup costing Ksh20 and over 100 Chapatis by mid-morning and that is how I make Ksh4000 a day. With that kind of money, I am able to save and participate in table banking groups as well as fend for my family,” she adds.
The Covid-19 pandemic also had an adverse effect on her business due to containment measures such as partial lockdowns, but business, she says, is back in full swing. “That’s the spirit. In business, one must develop thick skin. I just had to bounce back; I had no other option. During the lockdown, my daily expenses skyrocketed and my income was very low as most of my customers worked from home,” says Chepkoech.
The 40-year-old mother of two plans to expand her business by getting registered formally courtesy of the Micro and Small Enterprises Authority to receive legal recognition and take her business to the next level.
According to Ms Chepkoech, a visionary business person should be disciplined especially in the area of finances, noting that she has been saving as an individual and as a member of a table banking group where she borrows loans.
Chepkoech also explains that understanding some of the basic personal branding skills plays a key role in attracting and maintaining customers. “Maintaining good hygiene and creating a friendly relationship with the customers has worked magic for me. I also ensure that I meet the standards of my customers. So, I treat them with dignity,” Ms Chepkoech says.
She explains that maintaining healthy relationships with customers involves receiving compliments and corrections with grace and a positive attitude.
“The customer is always right. I am teachable and when customers correct me, I change to ensure that I satisfy their needs. I am still learning to do business but from my little experience, I have come to believe that customers are my most important assets in this business,” adds Chepkoech.
Chepkoech believes that the basic fundamental principles she is currently learning in business will be relevant in the future when she starts operating a big restaurant. [ By Kibe Mburu and Shannys Chebet ]