Enterprise

It’s my business to help startups find their footing

setpace-

Kaberia Bariu. PHOTO | COURTESY

Summary

  • At just the age of 27 years old Kaberia Bariu was ready to quit his job as a regional manager at KCB Foundation and start his own business.
  • His family and friends thought he was mad leaving a good job with an assured a steady income, and venturing into the unpredictable world of business.
  • SetPace Consultancy Services include business training, business advisory that can include registration of businesses, assisting in formulating a business plan or strategy or taxation issues.

At just the age of 27 years old Kaberia Bariu was ready to quit his job as a regional manager at KCB Foundation and start his own business.

His family and friends thought he was mad leaving a good job with an assured a steady income, and venturing into the unpredictable world of business.

However, Mr Bariu was undeterred and went on to set up SetPace Consultancy Limited, which advises micro and small enterprises on a variety of issues. The decision to start the venture was informed by the experiences he encountered in his tour of duty at KCB.

“After completing my bachelor’s degree in actuarial science at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University, I was immediately employed by KCB Foundation. They were starting a programme called 2jiajiri that was aimed at assisting young people to be self-employed,” says Mr Bariu.

“I was the regional manager for 2jiajiri on the aspect called business development services. I was in charge of five counties.”

He adds: Basically what we were doing was helping young people acquire skills and then from those skills help them develop a business from it.”

And it was while doing his job travelling to these different counties and interacting with the youths that he was able to see the gaps or challenges businesses face.

He met three types of entrepreneurs. The first, is the one who has a brilliant idea but lacks finances or capital, he says. The second kind of entrepreneur, he notes is the one who has the money but has no good business idea.

“The third type is the one who has both the money and a good business,” he says.

However, the way they run and manage the business “it is like they do not know how to make profits”.

“The third entrepreneur is at a poorer state than the other two. Because sometimes they can make profits but you find the tax man is on your door — you have VAT obligations and Pay As You Earn (PAYE). There are some laws that are sometimes ignored. Like if you have a staff that you pay more than Sh13,486 automatically you should pay PAYE for them,” he remarks.

“So you see someone has a very nice business which on the outside you see is fine but internally the business is on its death bed.”

This is where Mr Bariu saw a business opportunity. Although he knew that the market was already saturated with consultancy firms, most of the other companies, he says, mostly went for the “big fish” in the industry. He decided to target the middle and small income businesses, although he works with a number of established companies.

“Before I made this decision I had made my market research very well. This is very important for anyone thinking of leaving formal employment to start their own business,” says Mr Bariu.

SetPace Consultancy Services include business training, business advisory that can include registration of businesses, assisting in formulating a business plan or strategy or taxation issues. They also have mentorship programmes done through talks to entrepreneurs including one on one talks.

“We have consulted for over 50 chamas and mama mbogas including some boda boda saccos and the village savings and lending groups,” he says.

“We have trained staff of various companies like willstone Homes,Tana Folks, Green agriventures, Noble Hotel, Elegant Hotel, and KCB Group.”

He set up the business with a Sh100,000 capital.

“The cash was for registering the consultancy, buying a laptop and branding my company,” he says.

He first approached the mama mbogas who makes a profit of Sh1,000 or less but they do not know what to do with the money to increase profits. He also targeted the Chamas in the village where members contribute a certain amount of money and at the end of the year the money is divided among members.

“Most of them usually do not know what to do with the money. They buy a cow or a goat and that is the end of the chama. So I started approaching a few of them and advising them on what to do with the money,” he says.

“What if they take a small percentage and buy chairs, tents or utensils and start renting them out for events. This is an income generation investment plus the chama keeps on growing.”

Mr Bariu says that although he might be having a smooth sail at the moment, starting out was tough.

“The company was just me and my notebook, no office no staff,” he recalls, adding that he currently makes between Sh150, 000 and Sh500,000 a month.

Currently, he says, the firm has three full-time employees and four part-time staff.

“I know when I say I do consultancy to mama mbogas people might think maybe I have lost it because they wonder where is the money. But one thing you should know is that mama mbogas have a lot of money because there cost and expenses are very minimal. The problem they have is with record-keeping.”

“I also saw that there was a lot of informality or what we calling running a business the kienyeji way. For example they are not able to keep track of their stock or what they have sold. They are also not able to manage the small running costs of maybe buying a carrier bag for a client or buying a cup of uji for themselves or some of the damaged produce found. This leads to them stagnating at the same place in business,” states Mr Bariu.

The fact that some mama mbogas are organised groups was another advantage.

Mr Bariu has set himself an ambitious goal for his business:

“The vision of Setpace Consultancy is to support thousands of small businesses grow to corporates by accessing affordable and tailor-made business training and advisory services that they rarely access,” Mr Bariu states.

“Growing small businesses means growing employment and hence economy.”