After Graduating from Mauni Secondary School in the Yatta District of Kenya’s Eastern Province, Henry Mutunga (now 23) was not lucky to join a tertiary institution or University. Resolving never to give up in life, he converted the Kshs 1,000 that his father had given him as fare to Nairobi, to set up a second hand clothes business near Nairobi’s Machakos Country bus terminus. He is now a proud employer of two youths.
AE. How did you begin?
Mutunga: After months of searching for a job, I asked myself, “Why am I wasting the Business Studies knowledge I acquired in high school?” I told my dad that I wanted to visit my uncle in the city of Nairobi. Looking at my plight, he handed me Kshs 1,000. I used Kshs 200 to travel. In the city, I discovered that people were in no way idle. They were always in a hurry moving to different places to make ends meet. I was not comfortable being left in the house every morning, with nothing to do, while my uncle went to work in order to feed me and pay the house rent. I got hooked to the urban mentality and tried my hands on selling trousers.
A.E. Where did you get your initial capital?
Mutunga: Remember my dad gave me Kshs 1,000. After using Kshs 200 for fare, I was left with Kshs 800. I visited the nearby Gikomba market where I identified trousers that were going at Kshs 100 each. I bought 8 of these and started peddling them along the road right away. On the first day, I sold nothing. However, I didn’t lose hope. On the second day, I sold 6 trousers at Kshs 150 each. I reinvested the money acquired in purchasing more trousers. On the third day I sold 10. This success motivated me to egg on.
AE. How much do you spend in purchasing trousers two years later?
Mutunga: Kshs 9,000 per month.
AE. How different are you currently, since you became self employed?
Mutunga: As I mentioned earlier, my expenditure on purchase has risen from Kshs 800 to Kshs 9,000 per month. I only lived with my uncle for one year. I have now rented my own house where I pay Kshs 1,500 per month. Through the money generated from my business, I am putting up a permanent house at home. The business supplied Kshs 30,000 towards the project.
AE. How much do you spend on average per day?
Mutunga: Kshs 760 – that is: Kshs 300 for my breakfast, lunch and supper, Kshs 200 for my two workers whom I pay Kshs 100 per day for assisting with the sales, and Kshs 60 for the store owner where I store the clothes.
AE. What challenges do you encounter in your work?
Mutunga: I use a hired stall and pay Kshs 6,000 for it per month. Being an open stall (it is two wooden structures that resemble tables actually) I am exposed to the vagaries of weather. I also remit Kshs 50 to the City Council authorities per week. I experience stiff competition as my neighbors also specialize in clothing items.
AE. Which days give you booming business?
Mutunga: The months of August and December. I sell nearly 80 pieces per day then.
AE. How do you stem the stiff competition?
Mutunga: First, I decided to specialize. This enables me to concentrate on the best. I specialize in selling men’s trousers. Second, I select the best pieces, iron them and display them for sale. I also motivate my assistants. I allow them to bargain with customers. Should they get any money beyond my selling price, I allow them to keep the money. On some occasions, I don’t put all my eggs in one basket. During the rainy season, I add umbrellas to my stock. When schools open, I do sell school uniforms. This makes me relevant at all seasons.
AE. What are your future plans?
Mutunga: I would like to venture into different makes of trousers such as jeans. I would like to offer both expensive and cheap trousers. I also hope to have my trousers displayed and sold in Supermarkets. I am thinking about furthering my education in business studies to enable me be an effective business person.
AE. What do you do when you are not at work?
Mutunga: I attend meetings where there is motivational talk, read books and give talks on the Bible.
AE. What’s your advice to fellow youth?
Mutunga: Persisting in the rural mentality kills potential. It is time that youth utilized their potential and knowledge acquired to create jobs. They should be employers rather than employees. An urban mentality will always bring this to pass.
By Josephat Juma
Mr. Juma is an African Executive Writer
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