For George Wayne, entrepreneurship is a talent that has transformed his life forever. The third-year student of computer science at Jomo Kenya University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) traces his humble beginning in 2013, when he started as a broker and has grown his jewellery business to a Ksh5 million enterprise.
Wayne, 23, remembers visiting his neighbour in campus and was amazed to find a collection of jewellery in the room. The jewellery was meant for sale, but the neighbour had not sold even a single chain for two months. He (Wayne) asked to help out, to which the neighbour agreed, on condition that he would sell each piece of jewellery for at least Ksh200.
Wayne says the jewels were worth more than Ksh1,000, and out of fear, he carried only one chain to try his luck.
No sooner had he stepped out of the door than he met a friend, to whom he explained that he was selling jewellery. The friend bought the chain instantly for Sh500, which gave him hope to engage more in the jewellery business.
He went for the remaining stock and would do door-to-door in campus hostels during his free time. In a fortnight, he had made a profit of Ksh5,000.
Wayne saw a big opportunity, which no one had tapped in the entire Moi University Eldoret, home to nearly 10,000 students, where he initially started his studies. Driven by the will and zeal to expand his business, he struck a deal with a new partner.
Ann Wangui, a fellow student, would help acquire stock, as they shared the cost, partnered in sales and shared profits. Out of the first stock of Ksh5,000, the duo made double profit, which prompted them to take the business to the next level.
In January 2014, the two partners coined a name Gean Jewellery out of the first two letters of their names, ‘Ge’ from George and ‘An’ from Ann. Despite parting ways later, Wayne decided to retain the name Gean Jewellery, which had become a household name in this business.
A nine-month holiday later saw Wayne transfer his business to Nairobi, which would later become his main business station. Business in Nairobi became lucrative as he garnered more clients. This saw him transfer his studies to JKUAT so he could monitor his business without adversely affecting his classwork.
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However, Wayne terms running the business alongside studies as an uphill task, but he has been able to make it by employing an assistant. However, he says being a student has cushioned his business, as sales representatives have partnered in business from various universities such as University of Nairobi, Kenyatta University, Daystar and Strathmore among others. He has also expanded to major towns such as Nakuru, Mombasa and Nyeri.
Wayne says the business, which deals in imported jewellery, enjoys a 10,000-client base and aims plans to launch the Gean Academy to train upcoming jewellery dealers on how to make customised stuff.
Despite the mileage, the journey has not been seamless. Wayne has had to cope with difficult clients, who make orders but rarely honour them. He says only 25% of orders are completed within a day. “This makes business hard for us. Others demand door-to-door delivery, reducing our profits to almost nothing,” laments Wayne.
Fake products pose a major challenge to the jewellery business. Asked whether he will look for employment after school, Wayne says he will try as much as possible not to get employed. Instead, he will use his knowledge in computer science to enhance his business. To prove this, he has already developed an e-commerce platform for his business, geanjewellery.com.
Wayne, whose business is located on Latema Business Centre on Latema Road in Nairobi, offers a piece of advice: “Entrepreneurship is a talent full of challenges, which can only be overcome through patience and hard work. Your dream and vision should motivate you to soar to greater heights. Do what you are passionate about and success will all be yours.”