By Lilian Wamaitha
When you think about it, is entrepreneurship a solution to the rising rates of unemployment?
Some have argued that young people should think about starting businesses rather than waiting for a job that may never come.
When I read the story of one Joyce Wagaki, a young woman who had to say enough is enough with unemployment and start a business, I thought it best to share it with you.
Her story is one that can motivate you to rise above the shackles of failure and change your life completely.
She had to start from scratch and through her hard work and determination, she has been able to slowly build her brand in the fashion industry.
Probably five years ago, if you have told Joyce that she would be a bulging entrepreneur she would have laughed at your face.
A Journalism and media student, she believed that her future was in the media industry. After all, she had an amazing voice to go with it.
When dreams die
Just after graduating, Joyce was more than sure that before long her dreams of working in the media industry would finally come true.
“Before I graduated, I got a 3 month internship at a leading media house. We did a voice test and my voice set me apart from the other interns landing me reporting duties both on radio and on the lunch hour T.V bulletin. I knew then that my goal in life was to be a news reporter and eventually become a news anchor.” Joyce said.
With this positive attitude she worked on her CV and applied for jobs in several media houses. She never got any response but that did not deter her from going after what she wanted. Still she applied for more and kept following up on those she had applied for.
Nothing was forth coming. 3 years down the line, after her graduation, she was yet to land a job and time was flying by on her.
To make matters worse, her sister who she had been staying with in Nairobi got an opportunity in China leaving Joyce to fend for herself. The only money she received was the little that her sister would send her from China for her upkeep.
Seeing that her applications were not bearing any fruit, she went a step further and sent her CVs accompanied by voice recordings that she believed would see her out of the jaws of unemployment. Still no media house would pick her.
In as much as she struggled, she knew that she couldn’t go back home to become another burden to her parents who had worked hard to see her through school. And even though her sister supported her, she knew better than to rely on that. She had to be independent.
To keep looking for jobs or start a business?
While in China, her sister saw some handbags that she though were beautiful even though they were cheap. She reached out to Joyce to see if she would be interested in selling them in Kenya.
“At first I was reluctant because I had never thought of being an entrepreneur. However, my sister convinced me to give it a try since one of my strengths was the ability to convince people.”
She sent home at first a batch of 20 bags and 20 earrings. True to her word, the bags had a unique design and print compared to the bags in the market then.
Taking this as a challenge, Joyce knew that her upkeep depended on her selling those bags and earrings. She started with her close friends and church mates.
“I also went to town daily with a backpack stashed with some bags and walked office by office selling the bags.”
Though at first she didn’t make any sales and had to deal with all manner of clients some of whom were so rude, she knew deep down that that was something she had to do.
Although she kept hawking the bags, her mind was still set on landing a job in the media. During the day she would try to sell the bags and at night she would do her recordings and keep applying for media jobs.
To her surprise, she managed to sell all the bags and earrings and in the end making a profit of 30K. Her sister had bought and shipped the whole package for 10K and since the bags were unique, she sold them at Ksh 800 to 1000 and the earrings at 250 shillings a piece.
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The experience she got from selling the bags got her to rethink about being employed full time.
Her sister kept sending her bags and she even expanded her collection to leather ones. She then opened a Facebook page to sell them but due to unavoidable circumstances the business was not sustainable.
She had to think on her feet since she had financial obligations.
“I thought of going back to applying for jobs but considering how far I had come, this wasn’t an option for me,” she said.
It was not until one day a friend of hers stood her up after they were meant to meet at Eastleigh.
Instead of going back home she decided to stroll around the area and see what they had to offer. It was at this time that she met ladies who were selling deras. She got curious since it was 2014 and the concept of deras was still new.
“I got curious and asked the lady to tell me more about deras, how much they cost, how they are made, e.t.c. She sold me a material for Ksh. 300 then directed me to a tailor who sew the dera for me at only 50 shillings and in a few minutes, the dera was ready.”
She was so impressed that she wore the dera to church and took pictures which she posted on her Facebook page.
“When I woke up the next day, I was surprised to get a lot of requests from my comment section and inbox from people who loved the dera and wanted one for themselves. I was so shocked by the numerous requests but I also saw this as a great business opportunity. Also most people perceived Eastleigh to be unsafe and I took advantage of that by being the middle person between the traders and my clients.”
She still had no idea how to run the dera business as each dera had to be customized according to size. She would ask those interested to send their measurements, got the orders and delivered them at 500 shillings a piece.
That was how Gaki Collections was born.
Soon afterwards some of her clients started requesting for African sandals to go with the deras. And that is how her business kicked off. She now focuses on African custom made sandals. Her business is purely online but her plans are to create a website and open a physical shop.
The Take away…
What is holding you back from claiming your spot in the success club? Is it unemployment or lack of capital? What I have learnt from the story of Joyce is that you are what you put your mind to. If she had still insisted on keeping applying for media jobs who knows where she would be right now? One thing I am sure is that she wouldn’t have found the kind of success he has found today working full time.
Source: Kuza Biashara
Lilian is a Communication Officer at Career Point Kenya and has a passion of improving other people’s lives through everyday inspiration. Leave a comment below if you agree with this article.