Charity Kirigo’s ambition is to end mass unemployment and poverty in Kenya by importing second-hand clothes, commonly known as mitumba.
Ms Kirigo is the founder and chief executive of Makrida Limited, an independent second-hand clothes business based at the ground floor of a building in Gikomba that also houses Stanbic Bank.
“We are basically selling second-hand clothes imported from Canada. The business was established in 2009. I had just left my nursing job at Kenyatta National Hospital,” she says.
Her passion in the business, which she started partly because she no longer wanted to be employed, took a turning point when she realised that she could make between Sh15,000 to Sh20,000 in profit a week.
“When we started, the business was quite profitable. I was not actually having a big store such as this. I would start with about 20 bales and sell at once making about Sh20,000 in profit,” she said. It is at this point that she went for a Sh3 million loan which she used to upscale her operations.
“The biggest move came a few years ago when Stanbic Bank came on board to help finance our business at a small interest. They have so far advanced us hundreds of millions. This has kept our business afloat. It also gives us the desire to work extra hard,” says the mother of three.
Today, Ms Kirigo’s business has grown to redefine and reclaim excellence in the second-hand clothes business by offering customers high quality but affordable clothes. The business, which was only under her management when she started has also helped create employment opportunities to about five permanent staff and created hundreds of indirect jobs for young people.
“The team of employees I have are very dedicated people. I pay them between Sh15,000 to Sh50,000,” she told Business Daily.
The business sells a bale of jackets at Sh5,500. A bale of grade one shirts sells at Sh21,000 while one for men’s shorts cost Sh8,000. Children’s shorts go for Sh18,000 per bale.
“The bales come in containers. For us, we import about two containers per month, which costs us Sh2 million,” says Ms Kirigo who reads the Bible and enjoys swimming during her free time.
She gets clients for her products mainly through referrals although she is planning to leverage on the opportunities provided by social media platforms such Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp to market her products.
The entrepreneur says that the low moments in her business includes poor sales in some months, when customers are few or when stocks run out.
“Sometimes you end up going for a whole month without selling even a single bale,” she said.
Going forward, in the next five years, she would like to hand over the business to her daughter whom she believes has the ability to take it to the next level. She is a looking forward to employing more staff on permanent basis.
“I’m handing over the business to her because I would want to travel and see what the world has to offer,” said Ms Kirigo.