40andOver

You are the most Amazing subscribers & readers I have ever met! You are awesome! I write for you! I write you!I have this passion for writing….largely though it is because of you my dear readers! You keep me awake. You trusted me to inspire you and I hope I did through my #YourEverydayPeopleInterviewSeries.

If you missed this inspiring series, go back and read all my previous posts! You gonna love it! Feel free to share your success journey with me as well. I would love to know all about it! Write to me at info@ayakaconsultancy.com. I would love to know what inspires you, what makes you, you!

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We now embark on a new series.

I want to write stories. Real stories of Women & Men who made it AFTER the age of #Forty

I feel this group is not well celebrated. We always talk of Under 40.

Your story of how you made your first million when you were over forty, over fifty, over sixty etc.

I want to tell your story of how you started your first business when you were over forty.

I want to tell your story of how you got your first break after you turned forty & above.

I want to talk to you.

I want to celebrate you.

I want others to be inspired by you.

In my new #Interviewseries #40andOver

If you are the one or you know someone, contact me below:

info@ayakaconsultancy.com

(Let’s Share this post we reach them)

A Radio that talks non-stop!

Your Everyday People- Interview series

Tell us your name, what you do and how long you have been doing it.

My name is James Okungu, the producer and host of ‘C-SQUARED, Cocktails & Conversations,’ a web talk show that promotes difficult conversations. I am a journalist by profession with over ten years’ experience.

How did you get the idea to start your talk show? Take us to the beginning.

My brother once referred to me as a ‘radio that talks non-stop!’. That is who I am because I love talking to people, both known and strangers alike. I also love cocktails, my favorite one is Tequila Sunrise (You must try it, trust me!)

For several years, I have been involved in behind- the scenes TV productions. My calling I believe, has always been in front of the camera. That pretty much sums it up, you see, my show is a perfect combination of my favorite interests all wrapped up into one!

Tell us more about it. How does an ordinary day look like?

It is a very involving process that includes booking guests for the show, setting a taping day and time, prepping my guests for the conversation and getting the studio ready.

I live in a one-bedroom apartment in Queens, New York, so I have to put the studio up each time I record a conversation. This process can take up to forty-five minutes. Then, there is the interview itself followed by editing thereafter.

Later, I must promote that segment on social media. C-SQUARED, Cocktails & Conversations, is produced once a week.

How do you market yourself and which tactics have been most successful?

Social Media has been my go-to marketing platform. My show is on all social media avenues as @drinksconvo. So far, the huge response has been on Facebook, however, there is steady growth on the other platforms as well.

What are some of the mistakes that you wish you could have avoided in your journey?

I wish I had started earlier. The mistake I did was that I waited too long for the ‘perfect time‘. When I look back, I realise that everything was exactly right, all I needed to do was just to get started.

Perfect time does not exist. I wish I embraced that sooner.

What challenges do you face and how do you overcome them?

Whenever you watch a movie or a TV show, you’ll notice that there are several credits associated with the production. As a one-man production, I am all those things at the same time, from Executive Producer right down to Intern! At times this is overwhelming as there is a lot of work that goes into bringing ‘C-SQUARED, Cocktails & Conversations‘ to life.

I hope to hire some help as soon as the show progresses, and the revenue streams expand.

How has the COVID Pandemic affected you and what adjustments have you done to combat it?

My regular, full-time 9-5 job as a Photo Editor for a major news outlet shifted to remote working. So, I have been spending a lot of time at home. It has been quite the change in routine. However, I have embraced it and adjusted my life to this new reality.

When it gets tough, what motivates you to keep going?

My soon to be 7-year-old son is my biggest inspiration in life. He has autism and is non-verbal, yet he manages to navigate the world and learn new skills on an almost daily basis. His resilience, drive and courage propels me to do better.

Jayden is truly my number one inspiration!

What are your future plans?

I have plans to grow ‘C-SQUARED, Cocktails & Conversations‘ into a brand that covers several genres and takes on different and expanded content.

What advise would you give someone who wants to start a business and they do not know where to start?

Just start! Start now, today! It is OK if you don’t have it all figured out. Just start! The rest you will figure it out as you move forward.

Get it started!

How can people get to watch your show?

 The show is on YouTube at : https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUY59LkyWig_YhnmH_pENVg

And on all Social media platforms as @drinksconvo

“The more you talk to them, the more important they will feel”

R. Bennett

Thank you for reading!

Don’t forget to hit the “follow” button!

Stay here for more inspiring content! See you next week!

I love to mentor others!

Your Everyday People- Interview series

Tell us your name, what you do and how long you have been an entrepreneur.

My name is Khasoa Yvonne the founder of GirlBoss Clothline. I sell secondhand clothes business; I do this purely online. I will be turning 4years in this business by August 2020.

How did you get the idea to start this business? Take us to the beginning.

A friend of mine used to sell secondhand clothes and would get supplies from Gikomba which is a popular market for traders in Nairobi. I would accompany her on the days that she would get her supplies, this way, I was able to familiarize myself with the market and the dynamics of how this business works.

From my interaction with her, I was inspired to start my own business right away. At the time, I was a second-year student at the university. With savings of 1500 shillings, I purchased ladies’ blouses. I then hawked the clothes to my fellow students immediately after lectures. I loved my business so much that, I always looked forward to the after-lecture moments. I did this for two consecutive years.

Currently, I can purchase the secondhand ladies’ clothes in bulk. With each bulk purchase, I plough back the capital within a few days of sales. God has been faithful in my journey. Right now, I am already creating employment for others.

Tell us more about your business. How does an ordinary day look like?

My business is majorly characterized with opening and sorting out my bulk secondhand clothes purchase. I then iron the clothes. Later, I take pictures of the assembled pieces and post online for marketing. This way, customers, can see what we have on offer and their orders. afterwards, I plan and organize for their deliveries.

What I do, I package the clothes according to the customer’s order. Then, I assign a delivery schedule to the delivery team, I assign them basing on the places the clients are based in or rather will pick their parcels from.

Later, I follow up to get feedback from prospects once they get their packages.

How do you market your business and which tactics have been most successful?

Social media has been my area of leverage for marketing, both on Instagram and Facebook. I also capitalise on Facebook groups that are popular with entrepreneurs, busines owners and potential buyers.

Referrals has also greatly worked for me. I get many clients that have been directed to me by my clients who have enjoyed my outfits.

One other thing that has greatly helped me, is that I am deeply passionate about helping and mentoring other people. I do this online by encouraging potential entrepreneurs to get out of their comfort zone and explore businesses in dealing in secondhand clothes. Through this mentorship, I have been blessed to get new clients.

Yvonne

What are some of the mistakes that you wish you could have avoided in your entrepreneurial journey?

I have dispatched unpaid-for parcels with the hope that the clients would be genuine enough to pay for the delivery on receipt. Instead, I ended up incurring losses due to failure of clients honoring their pledge.

At the beginning, I lowly priced my items to please my clients despite undergoing more costs. I wish I had learnt earlier that, there are factors that need to be considered when pricing this would have saved me a lot of money.

What challenges do you face in your business and how do you overcome them?

A client may place an order, then they fail turning up to receive their delivery. If this client did not pay in advance for their consignment, I end up losing money. What I do to combat this loss, I charge an advance reservation fee for the items.

Sometimes, I can purchase a bulk consignment of clothes, then I discover that what I had ordered is something totally different than what I had expected or made to believe I was buying. This leads to more losses.

Regardless, I have come to appreciate that, in business you can either make losses or profits, and when you get a chance to make profits, do it with a strategy that will cover up for the losses you made.

How has the COVID Pandemic affected your business and what adjustments have you done to combat it?

COVID has taught me to be flexible in business. I immediately started selling children’s outfit when COVID 19 kicked in, a strategy that has worked for me tremendously.

Prior to this, I had never ventured into selling children’s secondhand clothes before.

When it gets tough in your business, what motivates you to keep going?

My clients. When one person appreciates what I do, that is motivation enough. In addition, my business journey has brought me closer to God, I always believe there’s hope.

What are your future plans?

I look forward to having a physical shop, where I will be selling specific clothes to a specified niche. Of course, not just one location, but branches in different towns.

I have the picture in my mind “GirlBoss Clothline Group of Shops’.

One of my greatest desire is to have a foundation too, which will majorly focus on humanity by giving hope to that individual who feels that all is lost.

So much is in store for me! A day at a time!

What advise would you give someone who wants to start a business and they do not know where to start?

What are you waiting for? Just start! There is so much we can do in life, and there is hope for those who decide to go for it.

How can people get in touch with you for your services?

You can reach me on my Whatsapp or call on-   0703 252718

A mentor is someone who allows you to see the higher part of yourself when sometimes it becomes hidden to your own view.

— Oprah Winfrey

Next: Our last interview in the series….You dont want to miss this!

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Story! Story!

This week we are taking a short break from our #Youreverydaypeopleinterviewseries we shall resume next week because I have a story to tell you that I could not wait!

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Blank exercise book sheet and pink pen. Premium Photo
Photo: Courtesy

The Kiswahili subject teacher walked into the classroom looking pensive, tucked under her arms were Insha* transcripts. One look at her, the pupils became deathly silent. They knew, it was not good news.

Miss Kitabu* was a short, voluptuous middle aged lady with a rigid face that instantly made you confess your transgressions seconds before the cane came stumbling down on your trembling outstretched hands! She was a no-nonsense teacher and many pupils feared her.

On the contrary, she seemed to enjoy her job. Her impeccable mastery of Swahili made her the head of the language department and the patron of the drama club in the school region .

Her strictness was evident in the way she spoke, taught and awarded marks in her Kiswahili exams. Many pupils were convinced beyond any shadow of doubt that, Miss Kitabu deliberately failed them. She would only award ‘good’ marks when she thought you deserved it. “Deserving it” was a privilege that was denied to many.

Barely greeting the classroom, she started handing out the transcripts to their owners by calling out one name after the other. Each pupil would make disappointing faces when they received and looked at their Insha papers. A dark heavy cloud filled the entire classroom, many had failed to meet the required pass mark. This was their mid-term exams.

Miss Kitabu handed all the Insha transcripts except one.

“How many have not received their transcripts?” She asked in a flat voice.

Nobody responded.

She cleared her throat, “How many of you have not received their transcripts?” Then she added, “I will not ask again!” She sternly stared at the pupils who were all wishing they could somehow disappear.

A tiny hand went up slowly, it was a shy thirteen year old girl. As if on cue, the whole classroom simultaneously turned and looked at her perplexed.

“Come up here,” Miss Kitabu gestured towards the girl.

Unsure of what will happen, the girl, hands crossed behind her, walked in small, measured, calculated steps towards the teacher while staring down at her shoes. Several conflicting thoughts were going through her mind.

I must be the worst failure.

My Insha was the worst.

This is my worst day..

“Congratulations!” Miss Kitabu raised her voice. “Your Insha was the best!”

Puzzled, the young girl looked at her teacher.

“You scored the highest marks ever recorded in this class.” She handed the transcript to the timid girl. To the class she said, “Pupils, this is how you should write your Inshas! The story was well written, the characters came to life, the figure of speech was utilized as it should.”

The young girl was astonished.

Miss Kitabu continued, “Please read to the class your Insha. The rest of you listen and take notes!”

Trying to conceal a tiny smile, the teenager turned to face the class and started reading her essay.

That timid thirteen year old, was me, over two decades ago.

*******

I have always loved writing and telling stories! A childhood passion that was formed in my early teens and being actualised in my mid adulthood . Here is a short romantic story, #Whenlovecamebacktotown! I have published on Amazon and You can read it from there! Am super excited to share it with you!

Tell you what, click on this link below to purchase the E-book.

Then, drop me a review and tell me what you thought of it. If you liked it, share the link with someone else who would enjoy it as well.

Go on now, I cant wait to hear your thoughts on it!

Enjoy!

See you next week!

*Insha- a Swahili essay

*Miss Kitabu- not her real name

Focus on perfecting your craft!

Your Everyday People- Interview series

Tell us your name, what you do and how long you have been an entrepreneur.

My name is Gabriel Andika, I am an interior designer. The co-founder of Dekia Interiors which was registered in June 2018. I have been an entrepreneur for 2 years.

How did you get the idea to start this business? Take us to the beginning.

I studied interior design with a goal of starting my own company. On completion of my studies at Ell College of Design, I was placed on attachment at Ell interior designers- a sister company of the college.

Thereafter, I got employment with them for a year after which I left to another company. During my tenure as an employee, I did interior design and decor as a side hustle.

In 2018, Dekia Interiors was founded with my then fiancee -now my wife- who is also an interior designer.

Tell us more about your business. How does an ordinary day look like?

We improve and refurbish spaces for both commercial and residential.

I start off exceedingly early in the morning. I then go over my plan for the day. We have an annual strategy that we break down into smaller achievable daily and monthly targets. So, what I do, I plan on how to not only meet but exceed the daily targets. Meeting the daily targets is key as this adds up to our overall goal.

I engage my audience on a frequent basis in our social media pages through posts that explain more about what we do and the value we offer. There are pages like Builders & Co-creators, Builders Forum Kenya, Home Beautiful and others that have a huge following of people who are looking for services we provide, we capitalise on that.  

In the course of the day, I follow up with my prospects and if I have a project at hand, I ensure I do project management.

How do you market your business and which tactics have been most successful?

We always ensure that we deliver our clients projects to their satisfaction as a result they refer new clients to us. Referrals have worked best in our favor.

Having a presence of our business in social media, has opened us to increasing business. Through this we have been able to market our business to the internet community and connect largely with new clients. Social media has given us an avenue where we have showcased interior design solutions.

What are some of the mistakes that you wish you could have avoided in your entrepreneurial journey?

For a long time before I started this business, I had allowed fear to hold me back. Sometimes, I wish I had started doing this earlier than I did, but everything happens at the right time.

We have spent a lot of money on sponsored ads on our social media pages. I feel we could have channeled this money elsewhere since the ads did not bring the results we had hoped they would.

When we first begun, we had not defined our target market and neither did we do intense market research of what people liked and how we could meet that need. We therefore spent a lot of time and resources trying to figure that out, which could have been avoided.

What challenges do you face in your business and how do you overcome them?

At the beginning, I did not have adequate financial management skills hence I did not separate my personal finances from the business. This saw me loose a lot of money. Overtime, I have educated myself on acceptable financial management practices which has been key in running our business and improved our financial status.

When we started out, we also did not have clearly developed business systems, this saw some operations affected, some resources lost and no proper coordination in the running of the business. Currently, we are working on streamlining the business systems and operations. We are seeing a lot of improvements in our operations.

How has the COVID Pandemic affected your business and what adjustments have you done to combat it?

Most of our prospects have postponed doing business with us because of lack of cash flow due to the pandemic hence slowing down the business.

However, we are frequently engaging with our clients and potential ones on social media, texts and phone calls. This helps us to stay relevant and maintain our brand awareness. It also builds a renewed sense of trust to people knowing that we are still open for business.

When it gets tough in your business, what motivates you to keep going?

I do a lot of personal affirmation. Daily, I encourage myself and I positively face the day with confidence that no matter what we must get things going.

We strive to learn from our mistakes, and our greatest support has been our Heavenly Father. My faith in God has seen us get business that we never expected and there are instances that we got clients that we never thought of. These clients ended up being our biggest supporters of our work.

What are your future plans?

We are working to expand our business and start an interior décor sister company and also add more services and products that we have seen are on demand in this industry.

What advise would you give someone who wants to start a business and they do not know where to start?

Start early. When you are thinking about doing business ,your greatest weapon should be to learn as much as you can about the business, know who your competitors are and narrow it down to the value you are bringing and the unique solutions you are offering. Do not expect instant results, keep doing what you do and clients will come.

Focus on perfecting your craft!

How can people get in touch with you for your services?

We are on Facebook as https://www.facebook.com/dekiainteriors/ and Instagram as https://www.instagram.com/dekiainteriors/

For further inquiries call us on  0703 547 610

“To become a master at any skill, it takes the total effort of your: heart, mind, and soul working together in tandem.”

― Maurice Young

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Don’t miss our next interview!

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We all need a side hustle!

Your Everyday People- Interview series

Tell us your name, what you do and how long you have been an entrepreneur.

My name is Pauline Ogolla, popularly known as naildoctor001. I am a Beautician who owns and runs a beauty parlor called Beauty Lynn Studio. We are located at Yusuf Ali mansion in Moi avenue, Mombasa.

Currently, I started what I call a kibandisky, where I sell cereals and groceries that we supply directly to our customers.

I have been an entrepreneur for three years now.

How did you get the idea to start this business? Take us to the beginning.

My childhood passion was beauty. After college I got a job at Style Point Salon, Mombasa, where I worked for eight months earning a monthly salary of Ksh. 1500. Later, I got my second job at a certain hotel that I have forgotten it’s name, where I worked for a year. My monthly salary there was Ksh. 5000. 

Working at that hotel was a frustrating experience. Employees would go for several months without being paid their dues. This increasing frustration created in me an urge to open my own business. What held me back at the time was lack of capital as I did not have any savings to get me started.

I left the hotel and landed a job at Studio 73, there I worked on commission basis for another seven years. Equipped with the great learnings at Studio 73, I was able to rent my own space at a salon called Ariz. After a year of proper planning and determination, I was finally able to open my current salon where I enjoyed immense success and built a loyal customer base.

Until the COVID 19 pandemic hit early this year.

Before I could comprehend what was happening, a stay at home and closure of businesses order was issued by the government. Like many other business owners, we were forced to close and adhere to the government directives.

After staying home for a week, my bills did not stop growing. I became restless knowing that they would not pay themselves. I then resolved to do something to earn some money.

I acted fast.

So, I started buying groceries and cereals and resold to my neighbors and Facebook friends.

God has been faithful; I give him all the glory.

Pauline

Tell us more about your business. How does an ordinary day look like?

Beauty Lynn is a place where beauty speaks for itself. We specialise in, hair services, makeup, facials and nails. Before the world came to a standstill, we could handle between ten to fifteen clients in an ordinary day.

In my other business, which I also call covid-hustle, I supply raw or cooked cereals, fresh vegetables, and fruits. I basically sell anything found in the market that is consumable.

By the crack of dawn, I am in the market to buy my supplies. Mid-morning finds that I am already done with the packaging and sorting out of customer orders and we are on our way for delivery with my partner.

How do you market your business and which tactics have been most successful?

Social media has provided me with an incredible platform where I have been able to reach a wider clientele.  Facebook and Instagram have been my key focus areas. I also mastered the art of using paid ads for my work, this has been a great success in reaching out to everyone who is not within my circle of friends in my social media accounts.

We also strive to offer excellent services in that our clients leave not only happy but satisfied. As a result we have seen an increase of referrals sent our way. Word of mouth is a tool that has favored us tremendously.

What are some of the mistakes that you wish you could have avoided in your entrepreneurial journey?

Lack of proper financial knowledge from the time I started out, made me indulge in some poor money choices. For instance, I used to spend more than I earned, and I spent a lot money when out with friends in order to please them or fit in with the circle. I also did not save for emergencies neither did I separate personal finances from business.

I lost money.

Nevertheless, I thank God for the knowledge that I have gained along this journey. Learning from my mistakes is the best wisdom I got.

What challenges do you face in your business and how do you overcome them?

Beauty industry is flooded with fake products in the market, this has been a great challenge for us in getting genuine suppliers and or products. However, we always try to not only use the best but also genuine suppliers and ensuring that we give our customers value for their money. 

Debt is one area that is affecting most businesses and most people shy away from speaking about it due to fear of losing clients. For us, we found a way to manage it effectively in that, our business operation is not affected. We have a mutual understanding of how to pay our suppliers within an agreeable time frame. In case, of any unforeseeable circumstances that arise, we go back to our suppliers and negotiate new terms. This way we keep our business afloat and still maintain a good relationship with our partners.

We have faced unhealthy competition in the industry such that some beauty practitioners offer exceptionally low pricing for their services. It therefore becomes a bit challenging to offer higher pricing for our services. But at the end of the day, we have chosen to focus on not our pricing but on the quality of our services. Customers, we have realised, they are smart. They understand that quality services is value for their money.

How has the COVID Pandemic affected your business and what adjustments have you done to combat it?

Covid has really affected the beauty industry in general. Personally, I closed my practice for two months following the directives from Mombasa county government. After staying home for one week, I got bored and started thinking whether to continue living in fear like others or embrace the change and figure a new way to make a living. I chose the latter.

Viazi karai* idea come to my mind and I gave it a shot. I started cooking viazis and supplied to my local community within the estate where I live. Then, people started asking for raw potatoes. That is how the idea of supplying groceries was born.

Immediately, I started going to the market to buy groceries, then I would add Ksh. 30 for each order and deliver at the comfort of my client’s doorstep.

The pandemic opened my eyes that we all need a side hustle in life.

Preparing for deliveries

When it gets tough in your business, what motivates you to keep going?

When I look back at where I have come from, I see that I have covered the biggest hurdles in my life. I affirm myself that I did not come this far to give up when the going gets tough. I have learnt to lean on God and seek his guidance and He strengthens me to keep pressing on.

God is the lead in my business.

Surely, if you put God at the center of it all, He will guide you through the tough times.

What are your future plans?

I am working towards opening branches of Beauty Lynn in Nairobi and Kisumu counties. It is also my hope that my new venture in food  supply will blossom into a whole sale shop for cereals in 2021.

What advise would you give someone who wants to start a business and they do not know where to start?

You can do anything that you have set your mind on. The beauty of it is that, you do not need much to start, start with what you have, where you are.

Challenges are there. You will face them, but do not give up. Keep striving to where you want to be. You will get there no matter how long it takes.

How can people get in touch with you for your services?

For our services like our page on Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/lynnsnailbar and Instagram https://www.instagram.com/beautylynnstudio . We are located at Yusuf Ali Mansion shop no.5 along Moi avenue ,Mombasa.

Call us on 0780969336 to book your appointment.

Order today

*a popular coastal dish made from frying potatoes

Believe in yourself and all that you are, know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle

Christian D Larson

Enjoyed this feature? Great! Be sure to hit the share and follow button on our blog.

Don’t miss our next interview!

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What more motivation do I need?

Your Everyday People- Interview series

Tell us your name, what you do and how long you have been an entrepreneur.

My name is Mildred Nafula. I own and run a small business where I cook and sell viazi* karai to my local community. Viazi Karai is a dish made from potatoes. Whereby, you first boil the potatoes, then slice them into sizeable pieces, coat the sliced potatoes in food colored green gram flour and then deep fry. The result is what we call viazi karai.  It is then served with mild to hot chili and or tamarind sauce, commonly known as ukwaju or any sauce of your choice. You can then accompany it with tea, vegetables, juice, or any accompaniment that you desire. Viazi Karai is a much-loved local delicacy, popular within the Coastal community. I have done this business since the time my first-born daughter was three years old.

It is 19 years now.

How did you get the idea to start this business? Take us to the beginning.

I came from a humble family background, hailing in Busia County, Western Kenya. My family struggles and having not gained an opportunity to finish school, drove me to seek a better life. Not just for me but for my family at large. Armed with a determination to make something of myself, I saved the little cash that I got from doing odd jobs in the village and took the first bus to Mombasa. All I needed was a job. Any kind of a job that would help me put food on the table and help me take care of my mother and my siblings back home.

During my stay in Mombasa where I was working as a house manager, I met a handsome young man who I would later fall in love with, got married to and sire with him two beautiful children. A girl and a boy.

Tourism in Mombasa back in the ‘90s was really booming. My husband worked in one of the biggest popular-tourist-loved night clubs in the region as a barman. His decent salary combined with the daily generous tips he got, was able to carter for all our basic needs. I enjoyed my role both as a housewife and a mother. My husband was our sole provider. We were comfortable. I was settled.

One day, trouble knocked my marriage door. My loving husband’s focus shifted elsewhere. Without a warning, he stopped honoring his responsibilities and subsequently, became a stranger in our home. This was the beginning of the end of my marriage and the bills started piling up. I was unsettled.

Then tragedy struck. My older brother died. I was devastated. It crashed my soul in ways that I can not put into words. I asked my husband to facilitate my travel upcountry so that I could join the rest of my family in giving my brother a warm send off. He denied me.

This incident of not being able to bury my brother, was a moment of epiphany for me. I was greatly disturbed. I did not want such a tragedy to strike twice and I was not able to travel upcountry to bury my loved one due to lack of funds, especially if it were my mother. It was then that I knew I had to start earning my own money. Real quick.

One sunrise, with 500 shillings borrowed from a friend, I walked into the market and bought a crate of potatoes. I came back home and shamelessly, set up a fire right outside my residence.

That was the start of my viazi karai business.

Tell us more about your business. How does an ordinary day look like?

The early morning cries of the first cock, finds me at the market. I usually buy a sack of potatoes directly from the supply trucks that deliver from upcountry. I must be there on time as they are offloading. This enables me to get fresh quality potatoes and at a discounted price.

On days that I have stock, the first cock-a-doodle-do will find me setting up at my work area. Any household, that wakes up in the morning to get their kids ready for school, can buy ready made viazi karai for breakfast. You can imagine, on a daily, by 6 AM, I have already set up fire and am preparing breakfast orders. On a regular, you will find me boiling, frying, taking orders and packing viazis for different customers at any given time of the day.

 At 7 PM, I wrap up.

How do you market your business and which tactics have been most successful?

One thing that I have mastered, is the art of customer service. Not to thump my own chest, but I have exceptional customer service skills. I listen to my customers and put myself in their shoes. I take their complaints to heart. Where I need to improve I do so without hesitation, where I need to apologies and make amends, I do so gracefully.

My aim is to exceed my client’s expectations. I make sure my viazi karai’s are tasty, well cooked and my work area is clean. As a result, I have attracted a huge customer base and built a great rapport with them. What this has done for me is, the customers, in turn, tell others about me- Mama Viazi and how much they love my viazis. So, word of mouth has worked tremendously for me.

I have customers who come from far off neighborhoods and some call-in advance to make orders. I couldn’t have done it any other way.

What are some of the mistakes that you wish you could have avoided in your entrepreneurial journey?

This busines is not easy. I wish I knew how to slice the potatoes correctly. At the beginning the slices were too big and at some point, they were too small. In both cases I lost money.

I also took a loan for the business from a financial institution, instead of channeling it to the business, I used it to meet some personal obligation. This costed me terribly. I paid off the loan with interest without making any money from it.

Savings was unheard of when I first started. I was not keen to put some of my earnings aside. In cases where I had emergencies, it was difficult to bridge that gap. I struggled quite a lot.

What challenges do you face in your business and how do you overcome them?

Like I had mentioned earlier, I have mastered the art of customer service. I listen to my customers, I take their complains seriously and I make amends gracefully where I should. This way, I ensure that my customers leave not only happy but satisfied.

As you know having a strategic location for your business is key. Getting such a location for me was hard at the beginning. I kept shifting from one location to the other before settling to the current one.

There are times I may buy potatoes in bulk and get some rotten ones somewhere in the mix. You can not cook such and sell to customers. So I am forced to buy more potatoes from local retailers to cover the bad ones, I do this so that my customers do not miss their daily order, but from my end, I incur an extra expense that cuts into my profit.

Competition in this business is stiff. My next-door neighbor just here across the street does the same business and several others around the neighborhood. I therefore find myself putting in more work on not just the quality of the viazis, but also on my overall services. There must be that one thing that must be outstanding so that customers can keep coming back for more. It is probably in the way I talk to them, perhaps it is in my way of greeting, maybe my parting shot or the extra sauce I add to their serving. Whatever I do, I give it my best. That one thing is what I work for that will give me an edge over my competitor.

How has the COVID Pandemic affected your business and what adjustments have you done to combat it?

COVID has slowed down my business. Most people as you know have been affected in one way or another. Some have lost jobs, others have taken a pay cut, schools and churches that are my clients have closed. This has decreased my sales especially at the beginning of the lockdown.

However, with all these on goings, never have I ever stopped working. Neither has my work ethics changed. I still wake up at the crack of dawn to carry on. So over time, I see people are becoming accepting of the new norms, by and by customers are returning. My being open has renewed trust in my customers and slowly they are coming back.

When it gets tough in your business, what motivates you to keep going?

This business of mine has taken my kids to school. Single handedly, I have struggled from cooking viazis just to ensure that my kids stay in school, and not just any school. I took them to relatively good government schools. I was determined to see my kids get a good education that I never got a chance to attain. 

My kids have never got any scholarship, any form of sponsorship or any private or government bursary to see them through their education. I did not borrow from individuals or any government body to ensure that my kids learn. All I did was turn my face away from any kind of shame and I stopped pestering their father to provide for them. Then, I accepted my circumstances, took stock of my life, and got to work.

For almost twenty years now, I have endured the hardships and joys of cooking viazis in open fire on a daily.  My daughter and son have finished secondary school successfully. I am working on their further studies. My business has enabled me to pay my rent for both my house and my work premises. My kids have never gone to bed hungry. I save on a regular basis. I support my mother and my siblings back home. I am now able to travel upcountry, comfortably, for any family functions.  

What more motivation do I need?

What are your future plans?

I am confident that my future is bright. I have faith that I will achieve the goals that I have set for myself. Where I have come from was the most difficult part of my life and I overcame it. The rest of the journey is much bearable. I have since joined a local Sacco where I save money daily, this will help me get a loan of a certain amount that I am aiming at and gift myself a piece of land. I have plans, which are underway, to expand and diversify my business.

What advise would you give someone who wants to start a business and they do not know where to start?

My kids will tell you that, I always instill in them, to focus on their lives and how they can get better. That they should appreciate where they are and what they have and with all that they can, work on moving forward. I remind them always to never compare themselves to anyone. They are unique and with a specific purpose on this earth and they need to get out there and find it.

Likewise, do not compare yourself with anybody. You are in your own journey. Get up. Start where you are with what you have. Do any menial jobs if you have to. Start with the little money you have if you must. Do not stop. Build progressively from there. Work hard. Work smart. Be goal oriented and each day work to became better than you were yesterday. It does not matter what kind of work or business you are doing. Take pride in it. Shamelessly. 

Surely, why won’t God bless the work of your hands after all the effort you have shown?

Finally, How can people get in touch with you for your services?

I will be delighted to serve you. I am situated a few meters from the Shanzu Gospel Revival Church, just come and ask for Mama Mercy.

*Potatoes

Keep it here for our next interview next week!

It gets better, if you or someone you know, think that they should be featured, send us an email below. We look forward to hear from you.

Wouldn’t it be nice to learn from others?

There is a young man that I know who runs a small essential business in his neighborhood. This guy, has a stall where he sells fresh vegetables to his community. He is very popular with his customers such that at any given time, you will find a sizable crowd waiting to buy from him. He is always busy; taking one order after the other, packing the veges, giving change, answering questions and pleasing his customers.

When he first started as far as I could remember, several years ago, his business was really struggling in terms of getting clients, stocking up and from what I saw, he also lacked a proper stall. He sold from a makeshift structure that was not dependable. Looking at him today, he owns a decent stall, he stocks fresh produce, he is popular and his customer base has grown. Overall, his business seems to be thriving.

This got me thinking that this young man must be doing something right. Whatever, it is, must be shared with other people. He must have collected some lessons along the way as he was building his business that have seen him raise to where he is today. I think it is imperative that he tells his story and we get to learn from him.

He might not be a millionaire- yet, neither an Instagram influencer, but he has a story- a story that needs to be told and with lessons that we can all benefit from. Ladies and Gentlemen, that is how our series, “Your Everyday People- Interview series” was born.

In the next five weeks, we will run a weekly interview of your everyday people. People who wake up each day to hustle and put food on the table for their families. People who are resilient in their pursuit of their dreams. People who have had the urge to quit but they did not, instead, they kept on going. People who against all odds, made achievements in their own rights. People whose stories need to be told and voices heard. People whose lessons need to be shared.

These are your everyday people. People that you know and you can identify with.

They are ordinary people with extraordinary stories.

Listen, this is an interview series that you don’t want to miss. Make sure you subscribe and be sure to tell folks within your community to subscribe to our blog and get inspired firsthand!

It gets better, if you or someone you know, think that they should be featured, send us an email below. We look forward to hear from you.

Wouldn’t it be nice to learn from others?



Watch out for our first interview in this series! NEXT!

*Photo: Courtesy

Let’s take a drive. Shall we?

Driving angry the sports car stock illustration
Image: Courtesy

My daughter and I were in the car one early morning, back when she was in kindergarten. We were crossing the Nyali bridge heading to her school when a motorist who, was driving on the wrong side, oblivious of us, tried to cut us off the lane.

If you are a driver on Kenyan roads, then you know what am talking about.

During rush hours, indecent drivers, overlap from the wrong side and try to repel you off the road in a ruthless manner without caring of an impending accident that they may cause. Most of the time, during these hours it is a ‘drive of might.’ You must contend with unruly matatu* drivers and rude motorists who clearly do not understand the ‘stick to your lane’ saying.

It can be a frustrating experience, one that often, ends with spiting of unpalatables and throwing tightened fists in the air by the aggravated parties while honking endlessly!

Not a pretty sight.

Back to our story. This driver tried to cut in front of us from the wrong side of the road. Unknown to him, I had already sighted his unwelcome intentions from the rear view mirror of my car, so I did what any other responsible Kenyan would do; In a split of a second, I straightened my back, gripped my fingers tightly on the steering wheel, lifted my head and accelerated bridging the gap between me and the car in front!

My instant actions caused that rogue driver to break insanely and momentarily came to an immediate halt causing a standstill of the vehicles behind.  Indeed, every action begets a reaction; The motorists at the back started hooting mercilessly! A few craned their necks out of their windows and venomously stripped the offender naked with words!

I did not miss any of that drama from my side mirror! With a triumphant grin and a jab at the steering wheel I drove off feeling like a daytime hero of our time!

It was then that it hit me that my little passenger was not impressed with the show.

One look at her and the smug on my face was wiped out! She had one of the biggest frowns that I had ever seen in a five-year-old.

“What’s wrong mama?” I asked her cautiously as I navigated through the traffic.

She took a slow deep breathe.

“This is not a race mom!”

You little kid, I just bought us five precious minutes. Five precious minutes of our lives out of traffic! Five minutes!

“Huh?” I asked puzzled as I took a turn.

“Mom,” she said with finality in a voice that I knew so well when something was coming. “You should just have let that car pass!”

Sometimes, I wonder if you are my daughter or my mother!

“Baby, that driver was on the wrong.” I replied softly.

By this time, we were pulling over in her school.

“Yes mom,” that voice again. “But it was not a race. Just let them go!” she gestured with her hands.

I considered her words for several seconds as I packed the car right outside her school gate. Her school nanny who was standing in wait, dashed to the passenger door. I turned to my little princess and looked at her with renewed admiration, marveling at how wise she was at her age.

Until she becomes a driver on these Kenyan roads!

“You are right baby.” I hugged and kissed her goodbye. “It was not a race.”

As I was pulling out of the school packing space, I could not help but dwell deeply into what my girl had said earlier.

It is not a race!

Just let them go!

Reflection

How many times in our lives do we fix ourselves into other people’s timeline?

That driver was in a mud rush to get to where he was going. We were not in the same car. He had his destination, which was not mine. He had his purpose for that day, which was not mine. He had his own mind of what he wanted in his life, which was not mine. That driver and I were two separate individuals with two separate lives.

It is not a race!

Just let them go!

How many times do you rush to do things just because other people are doing it?

Do not get me wrong. If it is your purpose to do the same, do so, at your own timeline. At your own space.

Why do you rush to compete with other people’s lives? You do not know their struggles, you do not know their prayers, you do not know their timelines?

Why are you worried that it might be too late for you? Perhaps this is the time for you to start doing what you are meant to.

Why allow yourself to suffer over things that you have no control?

It is not a race!

Just let them go!

We all have different timelines. Let people do what they must do as you pursue what sets you on fire. If you must compete, let it be with yourself.

Side Note

These days when I drive, I give way even when am on the right. If you are like that driver and you feel you need to get ahead of me, I let you go! As simple as that! This gives me a lot of peace both on and off the road.

“When you run your own race do not worry about the next person’s pace, mind yours, after all this is your own race not theirs.”

― Gift Gugu Mona

*public minibuses that are used as a mode of transportation within the city

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The Power of Asking

“If only you knew just how much power, you hold inside of you, you would be unstoppable!”

WILLIAMS: Some truths about the history of slavery | Toronto Sun
Photo: Courtesy

Early this year in February 2020, I held my first sales seminar. We called it, Ignite Your Sales Seminar 2020. It was hosted in one of the best locations in the CBD in Mombasa, Kenya.  Back in the year 2019, I had written down one of my strategic goals in 2020 was to organize and host a Sales Seminar that would bring together a diverse number of people who were employed and or did businesses.

I have always held to the belief that sales is the cornerstone of any business. If you are employed, doing business, earning an income of some kind or simply living life in anyway, you are always selling something hoping that someone would buy.

In business, if you are not selling, you may as well not be in business.

I wanted to organize a sales seminar that would be empowering to anyone who was in sales.  The idea was for people to come together and learn how to ignite their sales in the year 2020 while at the same time network with likeminded individuals.

Since this was my first seminar, I had a lot of fears within me. First, I was working with a very tight budget. Secondly, being fairly new in the consultancy world, I was not sure if anyone would show up for the event – I was not a household name. Thirdly, I needed to have a mix of speakers that would speak on different topics geared toward the theme of the seminar- Ignite your sales in 2020. Lastly but not least , I needed the right people to work with me in the logistics to bring this vision into reality.

Take a second and imagine the pressure I was in.

Immense.

I needed to get everything in order in good time. Booking of the venue. Advertising. Assembling of the speakers. The right pricing. Getting the right workforce to work with, meet the deadline etc.

That is not even the story.

Truth is, I was cash strapped. All I had was my vision and the determination to see it come to fruition. I had no money to pay the speakers. And I was faced with the dilemma to charge the delegates a premium fee that would be enough to also pay the speakers. I contemplated that for a second.

Then again, I was a new player trying to get my footing in inspiring and motivating lives. Who would pay a premium?

It took a lot of will power and the fire within me to continue with the planning of the sales seminar despite the challenges I was facing. I strongly believed in the value that I was offering, and I knew whoever attended will not leave the same way they came.

That was the transformation I was gearing for.

I identified professionals and experts in their fields within my local community.  Personalities that I knew would add value to my delegates.

Then, I exercised my power of asking.

You can imagine, the brevity and the strong fort I put when I made those calls to the potential speakers as I sold my sales seminar vision to them. At some point I thought I was overselling myself. I was not going to back out. I was focused on making it happen. I largely explained the value that both the delegates and the speakers would get from the sales seminar. I humbly asked if they could please make time from their busy schedules and come to give value -for free?

I made calls. I pushed. Some said No. I persisted.

In the end, through persistence and strong belief in my work, I got five YESs from five different speakers!

Let this sink in.

We finally had our dream team speakers! I was super excited!

The day of the Ignite Your Sales Seminar 2020 came. Delegates did not disappoint. They showed up in numbers that really encouraged my team and I who had worked so tireless to make that day happen.

Saying that we had a great time would be underselling the success of the sales seminar! The speakers gave more than a hundred percent of themselves, something that to this day, I humbly appreciate with the whole of me. The seminar sessions were interactive, fun and with incredible lifetime lessons.

Exactly as I had envisioned it.

All this happened because I ASKED.

Ignite Your Sales Seminar is an annual event that we hope to be hosting. The success of our first, encouraged me to dream for a much bigger, better sales seminar for the year 2021 and the consecutive years.

This is for you!

Go forth and ask, ask, ask! Ask shamelessly! Get rejected and move on to the next person. Ask for help. Ask for ideas. Ask for whatever resources you know you need. May the fire in you burn more than the fear of asking!

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Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and to learn something new

Barack Obama

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