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Multimillion business started with a tip from customer

Instead of sending cash for upkeep, my husband would send fabrics, which I would then sell and make more money

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Wanja Mwangi ploughed back the capital plus the little profit obtained from the sales, then reinvested the capital. Photo / Courtesy

About four years ago, Wanja Mwangi’s husband got a job in West Africa and made a dress for her, then bought different fabrics for their relatives as a gift. With a tip of Sh20,000 from a guest, the guy opted to appreciate and empower his wife in style. He purchased 12 pieces of Vitenges, a fabric that is currently popular as Ankara.

“Our friends saw the fabrics and the dresses and started asking if I could ask my husband to send them the same. We sold to our close friends and relatives and from that we got more orders from friends and Kenyans from all corners of the country and that helped our small venture to grow to a large business,” she says, happy about her husband’s choice.

That’s how Mrs Mwangi found her path to business, and My Angels Investments, a company registered about three years ago, was born. The initial capital was 40, 000 Naira, equivalent to about Sh20, 000 back then.

She ploughed back the capital plus the little profit obtained from the sales and bought 20 pieces, then reinvested the capital again from the 20 fabrics plus the profit. Instead of sending cash for upkeep, my husband would send fabrics, which I would then sell and make more money and the business continued growing.

READ: The emerging Mtumba fashion guru
SEE: Kenya’s Facebook man takes baby steps

At a time when some fabrics are sold off at Sh800 at Textile Centre or Garisa Lodge in Eastleigh, Mrs Mwangi says Kenyans should know the difference as far as quality is concerned. A Woodin, for example, is a big brand that flies off her boutique at about Sh4, 000. In a good month, the business, which is currently worth about Sh3.5 million, rakes in about Sh300, 000.

Wanja-Mwangi-vitenge Multimillion business started with a tip from customer

Some of the fabrics she supplies from West Africa.

“We don’t stock bulk, we ensure we pull the demand from the market by buying only what the customer’s request. This keeps us ahead of competition and helps to ensure that every time Woodin or Da Viva releases a new designs in the market, we are able to stock it and sell it before the other competitors have a chance to stock them,” she says.

In 2014, one of her regular customers designed a dress that won the African Wear Category during Miss Africa PERTH 2014.

The couple requested the designer if they could use the dress to market and as a result sold almost 200 pieces of that fabric. When Dashiki came to the market, she was among the first to sell the ready-made dresses in Nairobi.

Apart from the individual customers, she has had an opportunity to supply fabrics to respected designers such as Pat Lulu (popular as Poisa), Kawira Mirero (Mambo Pambo), Kiafrika Designs, Manciny, Pipiro by Nekesah Wafullah, MonAfric, Nato Design House, Shytess Fashion House, among others. Then in a sweet twist of fate, they would meet Jancy Creations, a prominent designer based in Kisumu who enabled her business tap into the lucrative Western and Nyanza market.

READ: Crickets rearing becomes big business in Kenya

“We have individual customers and designers in all parts of the country. We also got Kenyans based in UK, Germany, US and other countries sending their relatives to buy the fabrics from us and in essence helping us reach other markets,” she says.

Representing a silent majority of individuals who jumped into business in a most unlikely ways, she has learned quite a lot. She says that entrepreneurship is the way to go and that it does not matter how you started off, giving an impression that turning to business, sort of, is not overrated. You can always start with what you have, and then grow over time.

Market your business

In addition, the best business partner you can get, she says, is your spouse and it is wise not to eat the seed. Plant it because a seed must die for it to multiply, she says, arguing that with passion and commitment, impossible is nothing. What delights her is when she gets her customers what they are looking for, citing a unique fabric that automatically turns around a wedding or “ruracio” to exactly the way it was envisaged.

To Ms Mwangi, a satisfied and happy customer is the best way to market your business; a happy lot can’t stop talking about you and your products.

SEE ALSO: Kenya towns with high-potential for real estate

“When our customers especially designers make an award winning dress or when we see fabrics we have sold being worn by prominent members in the society, we feel happy,” she says.

The few resources she would recommend to someone who would like to try their hands on the same business is not only a good phone and stable internet but also better understanding of what you do. “Take time and read a book entitled ‘Facebook Marketing, an Hour a Day’ and you will learn a lot,” she says, arguing that the increasing supply of best quality Ankara products in the market means that there is huge opportunity in this line of business.

Victor Adar is a Nairobi-based journalists. He also writes for the Nairobi Business Monthly, a monthly magazine based in Nairobi, Kenya. he writes a lot on enterprise, HR and technology. He can be reached at: [email protected]

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. BUSINESS TODAY

    October 4, 2017 at 7:16 pm

    Very inspiring story indeed.

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Entrepreneurs

Cynthia Mumbo: Basketball player who’s marketing sports

She is the founder of Sports Connect Africa, a company that focuses on delivering value to sports stakeholders through marketing, events management, and player development

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Ms Cynthia Mumbo, founder Sports Connect Africa, which delivers value to sports stakeholders through marketing, events management, and player development

Despite the sexism that’s so prevalent in sports today, a lot of women have still found a way to do what they do best: excel. While some are doing this on the pitch, others are using entrepreneurship to achieve the same objective.

One of such entrepreneurs is Kenya’s Cynthia Mumbo, who founded Sports Connect Africa, a company that focuses on delivering value to sports stakeholders through marketing, events management, and player development.

Mumbo has been involved in sports from a young age. Growing up, she was inspired by Kenyan rugby star, Benjamin Ayimba. The promotion of sports in her school compelled her to go into basketball which she came to love so much that she started dreaming of playing in the women’s NBA.

 Getting kicked out of the first university she got into and working a job for the first time didn’t stop her. While playing for a local basketball team, she still went back to get a diploma in Business Management. To make ends meet, she sold snacks, and her success in the small venture gave her the confidence that she could really do business.

While working for organisations like the Kenya Basketball Federation, FIBA, and NBA Africa, she combined her flair for business and sports to set up Sports Connect Africa in 2012. But she didn’t give it her all until 2016. Since then, the company has been thriving.

With her experience and drive, she has led Sports Connect Africa to host the Junior NBA in Kenya. In addition to their youth mentorship programs, the company is working on hosting other events that will empower people in sports.

And all this is because Mumbo sees sports as more than a social engagement. Speaking on My Startup Journey, she said: “As Africans, we look at sports as social. Sports is social, but then there’s a huge element that is business-oriented. And we have to start looking at sports as a business, as money, as a product.” Story credit: konbini.com

READ:  Woman who started a business using a tip from customer

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Entrepreneurs

Michelle Ntalami partners with Chase Bank to offer financial advice

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Magdalene Mulandi (centre), Head of Brand and Communication, Chase Bank Kenya(IR) poses for a group photo with Michelle Ntalami (second right) founder and CEO, Marini Naturals during the launch of Michelle Ntalami’s Entrepreneurship Masterclass. They are joined by Gitonga Mmbijiwe (left) Campus Director, Edulink International College, Pranjal Sharma (second right) Marketing Manager, Chandaria Industries and Niyati Patel (right) Co-Founder and Chief Operations Officer, Marini Naturals. Credit: Courtesy.

Chase Bank (In Receivership) has partnered with Michelle Ntalami’s Entrepreneurship Masterclass as the financial partner, providing the class with sound advice on business finance as well as the know-how on navigating various financial hurdles.

The class aims to empower current and prospective entrepreneurs pursue their dreams while equipping them with the tools to do so.  This partnership is in line with Chase Bank (IR)’s mission of enabling people achieve the things that matter to them most.

“As the relationship bank, we believe in people, and their various dreams. Specifically, we believe in entrepreneurs and SMEs and we are always happy to help the next business idea evolve into a successful enterprise,” said Donald Kimathi, Head of Product Development, Chase Bank.

“Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) who form the bulk of our clientele, face unique issues, which affect their growth and profitability, and more often than not diminish their ability to contribute effectively to sustainable development. It is for this reason that we are here today, to share from our learning curve on what solutions work best for what businesses. Indeed, we remain committed to supporting upcoming businesses as part of our recovery efforts. As we wait to get out of receivership, we are robustly serving our customers,” added Mr.  Kimathi.

As part of these efforts, earlier today the bank conducted its third SME clinic which focused on Human Resources, delving into staffing procedures and organizational culture. The SME Clinics is an initiative by the bank that aims to support their highest transacting SME customers at branch level, with sound business knowledge and training to help them advance their businesses in their respective markets of operation. So far, Chase Bank (IR) has conducted two clinics in Nairobi and Nakuru on the topics of Marketing and Finance Management, respectively.

According to the 2017 Economic Survey by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, entrepreneurs in Kenya are creating more jobs than the private sector and the government collectively. Mentorship throughout their entrepreneurial life cycle is therefore paramount in various developmental phases; start up, growth and success stages owing to its vast value in the economy.

“In a world where there is so much information going around, one can get lost wondering what is truly essential for them to begin their business with. My Entrepreneurship Masterclass intends to teach only what is important to learn. I aim at helping current and prospective entrepreneurs realise their passions and turn them into profits,” said Ntalami, an entrepreneurship coach.

“It is important to share knowledge on self-employment and entrepreneurship as a whole. I am glad to have Chase Bank (IR)on board as the financial partner as one of the key areas that can make or break a young business is poor financial decisions. Chase brings onboard that much needed guidance thanks to their commitment to small businesses,” added Ms Ntalami.

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

The three day classes start in October 2017 and will have a total of seven modules guiding course. The course is aimed at empowering and equipping upcoming entrepreneurs while encouraging self-dependence in a market where formal employment is increasingly hard to secure.

Ms Ntalami will run the monthly Business Masterclass with Michelle Ntalami, at Edulink International College Nairobi, where she will educate, inspire and equip upcoming, current and future entrepreneurs. They will gain knowledge on how to navigate the world of entrepreneurship including personal branding. In addition, she is a strategic brand and marketing expert and runs her own branding company – Brandvine Group and is also the founder and entrepreneur of Marini Naturals, Kenya’s First Quality Natural Haircare line.

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Disruptors

Perpetual Kendi: Emerging queen of international PR

Perpetual Kendi’s PR company handles public affairs for Kenyan international football stars, powerful politicians and top designers

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Addleston Marketing founder and CEO Perpetual Kendi has defied odds to build a thriving public relations company.

For most millennials, college days are only meant for study work and fun. If they have to work, it’s only during field attachment where they play hide and seek with supervisors. They only play nice people towards assessment, just to some earn marks.

This is not the case with Perpetual Kendi, who is in her mid-20s and already a CEO and pioneer of an international public relations (PR) company, Addleston Marketing. She secured her first job in her second year in college, which only lasted three months before the company collapsed. She earned what most modern graduates are tarmacking to earn, Ksh25,000 per month.

This pushed her to look for new opportunities, and secured an interview with a Lavington-based organization, but the demands were too much for her. “They would only pay me Ksh25,000 a month if I earned them Ksh250,000 per month.  It would not be possible then for a starter, however ambitious I was,” says Kendi.

She left the interview a frustrated lady. She boarded a bodaboda back home. Out of her sociable nature she struck a conversation with the bodaboda rider, and they started talking about the elegant houses in the leafy suburbs of Lavington, which cost around Ksh180 million.

Selling belts

Quick calculation showed that she would work for 600 years without spending to afford such a house. But her dream was to own such a house one day. This wiped away the idea of getting employed, and that’s how she stopped applying for jobs.

The Kenyatta University Bachelor of Commerce (marketing) graduate was catapulted into business by a belt she bought at Ksh50, which her friends admired. She took the opportunity and started supplying them with such belts at Ksh150, and before she realised her business was growing. She would even persuade unwilling students to buy the belts and realised her greatest strength: persuasion.

ALSO SEE: Multimillion business started with a tip from customer

Determined to make it big in life, she registered her first company in her third year in campus, with which she did general business with the government and NGOs. This set the stepping stone for her, as she registered another company later, the Addleston Marketing, which shone her star more and brought her to the limelight.

“Moving beyond the realm of traditional public relations and marketing tactics, we dare to go where most PR agencies won’t: creative strategy, branding, video production, social media management, guerilla efforts, and even some advertising,” says Kendi.

Perpetual-Kendi-Addleston-Marketing2 Perpetual Kendi: Emerging queen of international PR

Perpetual Kendi at work: She is involved in a mega infrastructural project, where she is the only lady and the only youth. Photo / Addleston Marketing

The four-year-old company has been her main hustle, despite facing turbulence in the first three years. She earns a relative amount every month which is enough to run the company and commit on expansion. She calls it a journey of structuring and restructuring, but most important to her are the lessons learnt in the art of delivery.

At one point, her bid was rejected by a company after the managers said that her brand was not big enough to handle the company’s products. It was one of her lowest moments.

READ: Take these three steps to become a CEO in shortest time

The company is now handling public affairs for Kenyan international football stars and powerful politicians. She is also working with the country’s top designers, some working with the President and prominent people.  Recently, an international organisation that is planning to carry out an insurance penetration campaign approached her company for publicity and brand entry, not to mention for the global brands that she has laid her hands on.

In what she terms as her best assignment of the moment, she is involved in a mega infrastructural project, where she is the only lady and the only youth. The rest are men, in their latter days. This makes her feel like a lioness in a pack of lions. In total, her company is engaged in projects that she describes as revolutionary and game changing.

Growth is a process

Kendi, who still has interests in finance, says that she chose to venture into international PR and media relations solely because of their (international media) objectivity and reliability.

When asked how she will outshine the existing PR and marketing companies, she says: “I am not competing against them. Everybody has a share. Growth is a process, and not a competition.”

Addleston will be re-launching next year to celebrate a five-year milestone. They will also be opening offices in other African countries in regions such as West Africa and North Africa.

The second-born in a family of Architects draws her inspiration from Daniel Ndonye, who has been her mentor. Mr Daniel Ndonye is the Chairman at I&M Holdings Ltd, AccessKenya Group Ltd, AutoXpress Ltd and a board member in many thriving companies.

Despite being involved in business, Kendi is  launching  a campaign against cervical cancer, which she says is prevalent in her rural area.

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

Kendi is comfortable with her personal and social life, looking to push her business agenda forward, before settling for marriage. The ever bubbly and funny lass enjoys her free time in nature and plant exploration and sometimes physical exercise.

She advises graduates to get professional experience first through employments and internships before trying to go solo. “Many times I do not know what I am doing and  the risks I’m getting into but I know the kind of woman I want to become, a mother,wife and friend,” she ends.

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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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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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