Her knack for business was born out of sheer passion to recommend children’s clothes, shoes and games.
Lilliane Namirembe always had good clothes and stuff which always got her friends and strangers curious.
They would ask her where she had bought them. She would always take time to recommend places where she bought the different items.
Plans to start
After making a number of such recommendation, she sat back to think and reflect about the possibility of starting a business where she would direct friends and strangers to get good clothes, shoes, games and more, for their children, nieces, nephews and young friends.
The plan to establish Linah Kidz Store started taking shape.
“I decided to venture into the business of providing children’s stuff. Simple as it sounds, experiences of making recommendations to people actually led me to starting a business,” she explains.
Passion for business
She has a day job. Namirembe is a microbiologist with one of the product bureaus in Kampala. Although her choices evolved around academics, she always had a passion for business.
Her start-up capital was Shs400,000 which she used to open up a visa bank account, print receipts, and get someone to make a logbook for the new company as well as acquiring a few other things.
She established the business in 2014 and her core business area are children’s toys, clothes and accessories.
The dive into the business was a learning curve. She was inexperienced and terrified to fail.
“I almost failed to start due to the discouragements that kept coming in from all corners. But I also could not deny that overwhelming power greater than myself that woke me up at 4am, telling me what I was going to do, how I was going to do it, and who I was going to do it with,” she recollects.
She further recounts, “We finally started business, made the first order and sold the items to friends and family, the feedback and reviews were better than I ever expected. I got excited and decided to invest more money.”
To her surprise, the sales of the second batch were really bad that this tied up cash flow for almost a year. At some point, Namirembe thought that was the end.
But she is prayerful and at that point turned to the Lord, as well as putting in more time and work to make the business work. Along the way, she found a brilliant mentor with whom she interned for close to a year.
She ‘poured’ herself into learning from her. “I also had to read and do a lot of research in line with the business, knowing my competition, working long hours without pay, sacrificing personal time and lifestyle to market my products and finally through advertising, I was able to get the business on its feet,” says Namirembe.
The business model on which she operates is the on-demand one which relies on the immediate needs of a client. The model relies heavily on technology and its ability to provide goods or services at a moment’s notice.
In simple words, it is about providing fast services whenever and wherever a customer needs it.
She leverages off social media by running adverts there as well as keeping the business page active as she showcases products for sale.
The entrepreneur is also an active participant at flea markets. One of them takes place every last Saturday of the month at The Cube in Kisementi, off Cooper Road, in Kololo.
She is also a regular at the American Country Club in Makindye, every third Saturday of the month. Such meeting opportunities help her keep in touch with many clients.
Patrons who frequent such business oriented get-togethers are particular ones and for that, Namirembe says it has been important for her to maintain quality of the products she avails to clients.
With such efforts, she has made some return on investment. The first big amount of money she made was Shs2.1m. One Saturday morning she got a call and the person at the other end of the line said she was due, but had not shopped for most of the baby items.
She informed her of her location and asked Namirembe to take her many items so she could have variety to select from. Not knowing what she wanted, the business woman packed as much as she could.
When she got to the client, she kept unpacking things from her bag. In her mind, Namirembe thought she was unpacking in order to make comparisons and later on a choice.
She was wrong. The client had gone to Linah Kidz business page, looked at the items there and their prices, so she had made her selection of items. To Namirembe’s astonishment, when the client was done selecting, she handed her Shs2.1 million in cash.
From that point on, she knew she needed financial management skills so she began developing good financial discipline. “I never misappropriate funds in any way and that is the very reason as to why I have managed to come this far,” she says.
She worked with two people who help in doing sales for the business. The two handle clients who make inquiries on the online platforms while the proprietor oversees the general duties of the enterprise.
Once in a while when there is need for more hands in business, she will call on some more people to help. Over the years, she has been working towards moving out of rented space.
“I am excited to announce that in 2018 Linah Kidz Store has been able to acquire a home. We no longer have to pay rent,” she reveals. When I ask her how much she pays herself in salary, she smiles.
At the moment, the business is situated along the Namugongo – Seeta Road, opposite Goma Division offices. She explains that she does not earn a monthly salary but finds ways to reward herself at the end of the year.
Her key expenditure includes paying taxes, salaries, fuel and running adverts on Facebook in order to promote her products.
The items that earn her more money over others include toys, baby accessories and children’s clothes.
To run the business, she need to strike a delicate balance between her day job and the enterprise.
“I have a schedule and stick to it. I focus on better time management by waking up early. This has helped me stay on top of things.”
“In the years to come I would love to grow an empire that would positively impact the community,” she concludes.