Keziah Nyaga, owns Kezdelight Planners and a mitumba clothes wholesale shop.
Just over five years ago, Keziah Nyaga was a cyber café attendant at the Care Connect Cyber Café along Wabera Street in Nairobi. Her daily work routine was pretty simple. “I cleaned the cyber café, charged customers and printed documents,” she says.
At the end of the month, she would earn Sh8, 000. But Keziah felt restrained and unfulfilled. “It made me feel stuck. I wanted more; I wanted to be like my employer. I wanted to make my own money, perhaps even become a millionaire!” she says.
She was convinced that entrepreneurship would be her ticket to riches. However, she couldn’t think of any business that her meagre savings could afford to set up in the Nairobi CBD.
“Setting up a business in the CBD would be too costly. Rent was too high,” she says. And further, she didn’t have a business idea.
Nevertheless, she was determined to break free from the chain of employment and a hand-to-mouth monthly income.
After saving some money over the course of a year, Keziah opened a stall at Gikomba Market and began to sell kids’ mitumba (second-hand) clothes. “I bought several bales of second-hand clothes which I would sell wholesale to retailers from upcountry.”
By 2012, her mitumba business had picked up so well that she’d make a gross of between Sh200, 000 to Sh300, 000 in a good month. “In a bad month, though, I’d make Sh50, 000!” she says. However, much of her income went back into the business.
“I had a lot of cash passing through my hands, but my income was little. I could transact combined sales worth a million or more within a few months, yet my worth was nowhere near the Sh1 million,” says Keziah.
“At the end of every month, I found myself wondering how I could be transacting and making so much money, yet earning so little profit. It was very frustrating!
“Whenever my mitumba business appeared to pick up, something awful would happen. If it was not fire razing down the market, it was theft and grenades. I had to change tack.” In early 2013, Keziah opted to try her hand at a new business.
With Sh200, 000, she set up an events company, Kezdelights Planners. “I was cautious (because) I wanted to get things right from the beginning.
At the back of mind, I knew this was what would propel me to millionaire status.” She enrolled for a short course at Samantha Bridal’s WMBA while interning with an established events planner to gain exposure. To get acquainted with the event planning skills she needed, she started off organising small birthday parties, and began to market it through word of mouth.
“It looked like an effort in vain at first. Clients were hard to come by and I feared that I’d fail. But I stuck to my guns.” Soon, her patience and efforts began to bear fruit.
“I would get one customer per month. Many of those I approached seeking business were hesitant because I was not an established name.”
Her planning business finally caught on and she was contracted to set up events for Village Market and State House. “I made my first million from these two events last year,” she says, adding that their success cleared a pathway for more business opportunities.
“I still run my mitumba business but it has gone slow since I started Kezdelights. I do not have regrets as I believe in growing. I am now working towards crossing the Sh2 million mark.”
Looking back at her journey, Keziah says that she would not be where she is today had she not put her mind to it.
“Hard work and back-breaking determination have been my secret. I’ve found that there is nothing a woman cannot achieve if she puts her full mind into it.” She adds that although she would have wished to start a business uptown where quick money seems readily available, she had no resources to do so, but chose to be content with what she could do and build on it.
“I’ve seen many women despise a certain kind of work, yet the enterprise they desire is totally out of reach. This is a booby trap in which I nearly fell. Kazi ni kazi as long as it holds tangible potential for growth or is to be your stepping stone to financial freedom and success rather than your yoke!” she says.
“Women trying to make it in business should also understand that their goods or services alone cannot take them far. But people will. People are the money and I’ve learned to spread my social tentacles through communication. It always works.”