By Lisa Osiako
Are you willing to pay the price that will ultimately propel you to success?
Take Carolyne Wanjiku, the founder and CEO of Kenya Sunrise Eco Energy. Before venturing into business, she had been employed for five years.
She started her career as a waitress at the Village Market for one year with a monthly salary of Sh15,000. This was a temporary position and when her 12-month contract period came to an end, she was relieved from the job.
Soon enough, she got another job, this time with a lower salary than the previous job she had. This was at a petrol station and her monthly pay was Sh10,000.
Even though she took that job, she knew that this was not the place she wanted to build her career.
“I wanted a more fulfilling and financially rewarding job. But I couldn’t be too choosy and stay at home in wait.”
A few months into her new job, she quit the job to join a company that dealt with the production of biogas and the installation of biogas appliances.
“I moved from earning Sh10,000 per month to Sh35,000. This was more than I had ever imagined I would make.
Three years later, the biogas company shut down, and Carolyne was left jobless.
Even though she remained jobless, she was confident that the experience she had gained through employment would work in her favour. During her time out of a job, the entrepreneurship bug started hitting her.
Her customers from the biogas company she had previously worked for kept calling her asking where they could access biogas services. Some went ahead to suggest that she open her own biogas outlet.
The thought of running her own business scared her, as this is something she had never thought of doing.
She felt comfortable looking for and securing a job as it is clear cut – you work, you get paid. She did not want to be constantly sweating day and night chasing after clients.
The final push came from her spouse, and this was her turning point. This is the time she considered the business as a viable opportunity.
“Everyone around me said this was a golden opportunity. The more this was repeated, the more it awakened me to the realization that perhaps I could give it a try.”
The following year, Carolyne registered her own biogas company, starting with Sh100,000 that she had saved from her previous job.
Raising the business from scratch to where it is today has not been easy.
“When I started, I quickly realized that there’s a difference between people telling you to venture, and them supporting your venture.”
Also, after getting started, not too many people believed that a cow-dung related business could sustain her.
“Most of those who heard about my new business thought I had bitten off more than I could chew.”
Due to her limited flow, she was also not able to build a consistent flow of customers. “There were times when I would keep my customers waiting while I hustled to get a motorbike to go and fetch more items from suppliers.”
A year into the business, she was conned of goods worth Sh300,000.
“… a customer bought goods and paid via a cheque. The cheque was rejected by the bank and I ended up losing my stock. I started from scratch, and gradually ploughed back the profits into the business until I recovered the lost amount.”
A few weeks after settling in, Carolyne met her first client. “I managed to convince him to place an order for the supply of biogas products and give a down payment. Within a week, I delivered his goods and walked to the bank smiling with a good profit. It was a vindication of my budding entrepreneurship.”
Over the past four years, she has built a self-sufficient business, managing to open a warehouse and an office at the Nairobi Central Business District.
Carolyne is now looking to open branches in various towns across the country, as she works on partnerships to create awareness on the benefits of green energy.
Carolyne’s business took time to grow. Through her time in employment, there are valuable lessons she learned that ultimately propelled her to her success in entrepreneurship.
In the end, you have to be willing to pay the price and put in the hard work to accomplish your goals.
Take every opportunity that comes your way, no matter how small. It will propel you towards your success through the skills that you gather along the way.
Be flexible and willing to try out every opportunity that comes your way. You will learn from it.
Put in time and effort to attend career fairs and network, as this will ultimately get you that job you have always dreamed of.
Lastly, be willing to learn and be mentored. In the long run, this will set you apart.
Remember, anything is possible when you pay the price.