Armed with an idea and clear vision, Sarolyne Mwendia set out to make her dreams come true.
Last year she decided to quit her job as a marketing manager in an iron sheet manufacturing firm and venture into business in the same field she had been working in. She launched Mabati Bora Limited, which manufactures iron sheets.
At her premises, located on the Nakuru-Nairobi highway on the outskirts of Nakuru town, one can hardly believe she only started this company last year in April. It is a bustle of activity with 19 staff busy performing their various roles at the firm currently estimated at more than KSh50m.
Ms Mwendia, 40, tells of her tough journey to setting the business on a firm footing.
“I decided to go into iron sheets because I understood its dynamics. I started as a distribution point in pipeline estate on the outskirts of Nakuru town,” she notes adding that “Even as I started as a distributor, I knew one day I would own a manufacturing company.”
She was a distributer for two months before launching into manufacturing with her co-director Peter Wainaina.
Driven by determination
Ms Mwendia says her entrance into the iron sheets manufacturing was also to prove that even women can prosper in ventures that have for decades been associated with men.
“I found that most of the manufacturing industries are dominated by men. So I also wanted to challenge certain gender myths. We can also do what men can do,” she says, adding that her business is also helping the government meet the goals of Agenda Four, whose key focus are manufacturing and housing.
Many women, she says, would go to businesses that are easier to handle, “but I wanted something that would challenge me.”
Ms Mwendia says when starting, she did not have money but was equipped with unshakable vision she sold to financial institutions for credit.
“Such a business is definitely capital intensive. But I realised business is not about capital but a workable idea,” says the mother of two who studied administration at the National Youth Service. “I knew I had a good idea.”
Despite having a clear idea of what she wanted to do, financial institutions still needed a lot of persuasion to buy into her idea.
“It was challenging because here I was, just telling bank managers what I am capable of doing but at the end of the day you have nothing to show. You are just telling them what is on your mind. I found it very challenging but they eventually believed in me,” she says.
Having clinched the capital which was about KSh60m, she set off on her business journey and within a short time the business has grown rapidly, and Ms Mwendia is even looking at expanding across borders.
“We have 19 employees who include the managers, sales and marketing team, drivers, and the production team. We are targeting the end users in the affordable housing sector. In five years, we want to have made inroads into the East African Community member states,” she says.
“We are doing different types of corrugated iron sheets and we customise according to the clients’ request,” she says, adding that she is looking to diversify her product offerings.
Although the future looks bright for her firm, there has been several challenges.
“It has not been easy. The first problem we had was capital as I earlier said. At the moment, we really need a lot of money to be able to bring enough materials,” says Ms Mwendia who was born in Rumuruti, Laikipia County.
“Again we are a new factory and we are competing with established companies in the sector. It is not easy to penetrate the market.”
Nonetheless, Ms Mwendia says actualisation of the business has fulfilled her childhood dreams.
“I feel so good because I am an inspiration to that village girl. When they see you make it, considering wherever you have come from, you really encourage them,” she says.
“Before I started this company, I went to the village, looked at the young girls and talked to myself that I should have a success story for them to emulate. That you can start from nowhere and then be someone in life.”
Ms Mwendia advises entrepreneurs to have a sound and viable idea before putting money into a business.
How to start a business with little money
You’re excited to start a business. Maybe you have an idea, or you’re just fascinated with the idea of launching and growing your own enterprise. You’re willing to take some risks, like leaving your current job or going without personal revenue for a while.
But there’s one logistical hurdle stopping you: You don’t have much money.
On the surface, this seems like a major problem, but a lack of personal capital shouldn’t stop you from pursuing your dreams. You have two main paths of starting a business with less money: lowering your costs or increasing your available capital from outside sources. You have three options here:
Reduce your needs
Your first option is to change your business model to demand fewer needs. For example, if you were planning on starting a company as a consultant or freelancer, you could reduce your “employee” expenses by being the sole employee at the start.
Unless you need office space, you can work from home. You can even do your homework to find cheaper sources of supplies, or cut out entire product lines that are too expensive to produce at the outset.
There are a few expenses that you won’t be able to avoid, however. Licensing and legal fees will set you back even if you cut back on everything else.
Instead of going straight into full-fledged business mode, you’ll start with just the basics. You might launch a blog and one niche service, reducing your scope, audience and profit, to get a head-start. If you can start as a self-employed individual, you’ll avoid some of the biggest initial costs.
Once you start realising some revenue, you can invest in yourself, and build the business you imagined piece by piece, rather than all at once.
Here are just a few potential sources for you:
Friends and family. Don’t rule out the possibility of getting help from friends and family, even if you have to piece the capital together from multiple sources.
Angel investors. Angel investors are wealthy individuals who back business ideas early in their generation. They typically invest in exchange for partial ownership of the company, which is a sacrifice worth considering.
Venture capitalists. Venture capitalists are like angel investors, but are typically partnerships or organisations and tend to scout businesses that are already in existence.
Crowd funding. It’s popular for a reason: with a good idea and enough work, you can attract funding for anything.
Adopted from Business Daily
Business ideas for women
Are you thinking The days when women cooked long hours in the kitchen and kept the home while men made all the money are long gone.
Women still cook and yes, they still take care of their home but I don’t see many women answering ‘housewife’ recently. No woman wants to sit at home in this economic whirlwind. Everybody wants to make money – as they rightly should.
Below are some of business ideas women can profitably engage in while handling the many other responsibilities they face. These are just mentions to get your idea wheels spinning.
Fast moving consumer goods distribution is among the best business ideas for women – and it is very lucrative too. New manufacturing companies emerge every day. As a woman, you can connect with any of them and register as a distributor.
One advantage of this is, it gives you steady income. Because goods such as soap, tissue, detergents and snacks among others sell very fast, the business is consistent and steady. I know of a woman who started with distributing chin-chin and other snacks.
If you love cooking, catering is good business because of the simple fact that good food is always good business.
The good thing with catering business is you can start with any amount of money – small, medium or big scale. Plus you can choose to start either outdoor catering services, indoor or both.
When you look around you, I guarantee you must know at least one woman who was able to turn her fortunes around through food/catering business.
School runs business is another potentially profitable business idea for women. The reason is some parents might not have the time to pick their kids from school. I see people contract a boda boda operator to handle school runs for them. So if you are going to pick your own kids from school anyway – and you have time on your hands – you can arrange with other parents in your neighborhood and start your school runs business. You can start with your vehicle or hire a bus driver (use your imagination). You can also
buy a school bus and lease it out to a new school around you. This is also a good source of residual income because the school will take care of the vehicle. You only need to wait while they remit agreed-upon returns to your account.
Fashion design does not have to be much tasking to start. Most women would opt to go for training and make clothes by themselves. While this is stressful and also rewarding, there is another way. There are cloth makers to whom you can outsource the tailoring. They will make the clothes using whichever design you choose. They will even let you choose your own label and attach the labels to the clothes.
Blogging is fun and profitable. It takes a while to gain traction but once you establish your blog with consistent traffic, there are countless ways you can make money. You can start a blog on any topic you are interested in or passionate about.
Online retail business
The internet has become a booming marketplace and online retail has become very profitable over the past few years.
Why stick to conventional brick-and-mortar business when you can sell online, reach more people and make more profits?
You don’t need to have your website to start your own online retail business. For a start, you can list your products on big online retail stores like Konga or Kaymu.
If you are going to be taking care of your own kids anyway, and you have the space and start-up cash, why not make it a business? You get to spend so much time with your kids, and other kids, plus you make cool cash in the process.
Granted, not everybody has the grace to handle 17 crying babies at the same time so if this not you, best move on the next item. However, if you love hanging with kids, day care is a cool business for you.
Freelancing is the easiest business for beginners to start on the internet. You don’t need anything much, only your skills and your internet enabled computer.
You can get started right now and head out to start making $10-$20 an hour as an entry level freelancer. To make money as a freelancer, you need to know skills like writing, copywriting, graphics design, web design, etc. Common sites you can get freelancing jobs include: freelancing.com, upwork.com, Fiverr.com etc.
Agriculture is the new oil right now. I don’t need to say much on the benefits of agriculture as a business.