Enterprise

From going without food, I now run rapidly growing bricks venture

bricks

Charles Lokwachai (left) with a youth arranging bricks at his Lityei home in Kapenguria, West Pokot county. PHOTO | OSCAR KAKAI | NMG

Summary

  • After racking his brain on how to end this misery, he decided to venture into business. With just Sh10,000 he started a brick-making enterprise.
  • To his pleasant surprise, the business did not take long to pick up thanks mainly to many construction work going on in the area.
  • Although the entrepreneur dropped out of school in primary, this has not deterred him from building a thriving business.

For a long time, Lokwachai Panyako was wallowing in abject poverty, spending nights without food. He says it brought tears into his eyes knowing that his family could not afford food.

After racking his brain on how to end this misery, he decided to venture into business. With just Sh10,000 he started a brick-making enterprise.

To his pleasant surprise, the business did not take long to pick up thanks mainly to many construction work going on in the area.

Now, his products have been used to build several churches, schools and residential houses.

He sells 600 bricks on average daily, but when the demand is high, this can go as high as to 1,000 bricks.

“I started this business with Sh10,000 . It came profitable in s short while and now I have employed many youths,” says Mr Lokwachai.

One brick goes for Sh10.

From the project, Mr Lokwachai - from Lityei village, in Kapenguria West County - says he has been able to buy plots in Makutano Township, the county’s main commercial hub, and put up commercial premises.

“Many people see brick making as a job for the poor but it brings me good returns,” he says.

The 46-year-old father of four says he has made over 5 million bricks in two yeats.

“Many customers stream into my home to buy bricks. I don’t lack bricks in my compound,” he says.

Although the entrepreneur dropped out of school in primary, this has not deterred him from building a thriving business.

“I am now doing well in life despite not going far in my education. I dropped out of school in standard eight because of a lack of school fees,” he says.

Ms Lochakwai has also been mentoring the youth.

“I have become a role model to many youths who have emulated me,” he says.

Mr Lokwachai says his business success has enabled him to take care of all the needs of his siblings.

“I am all they have. Therefore, I work hard to ensure that they go to school, get food and dress well,” notes Mr Lokwachai.

To raise additional income, Mr Lokwachai has used some of the proceeds from the brick business to venture into cloth selling, vegetable farming, maize growing and livestock keeping (sheep, goats and chicken).

Mr Lokwachai also owns a public service vehicle, a hotel and runs a table banking business that has a capital base of Sh2 million, having gown from Sh200,000 he started with.

“All these ventures are as a result of making bricks. I have never been employed by the government or any organisation in my lifetime,” said Mr Lokwachai.

Perhaps what makes him different from other entrepreneurs is that he has opted to share his success lessons with his community.

“I share the knowledge that I have with other youths and orphaned children who are poor and suffering,” notes Mr Lokwachai

“Many of them are now successful and running profitable businesses. They have also spread the knowledge to other needy,” he says.

“I have helped people fight poverty and take good care of their children. This gives me so much joy.”

Mr Lokwachai’s success story is a major source of inspiration and hope for many people in his community.

He says he helps the youth who are frustrated to build confidence in themselves, noting that he was once in a state of despair himself, and hence he has valuable lessons to teach others.

When he was young, the entrepreneur says he suffered low esteem because of the poverty that was ravaging his family. But that has now drastically changed.

“The success of my business and life skills have boosted my confidence and helped me to believe in myself,” he states.

The fact that he entered the business with little skills and no expertise has also helped to build unshakable confidence in himself. All he knew when starting the business, he says, was that there was a need to have access to better housing and affordable material to improve living conditions for him and his family.

“My friend told me that just by using locally available soil mixed with sand, you can make bricks that can be used to make affordable, yet beautiful buildings and I immediately knew I wanted to get into this business,” says Mr Lokwachai.

“Bricks for now are the employer for many youths because constructions are going on all over on a daily basis. Many have shunned engaging in drug abuse and alcoholism have prospered in life,” said Mr Lokwachai.

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