It is a cloudy Sunday afternoon and Daniel Mugendi, a self–made carpenter is seated under a tree just beside the road peeling off the bark of sticks he is going to use to make poolside beds.
The Mombasa-Malindi highway is busy but the noises from the fast moving cars have become normal to Mr Mugendi who has an open furniture shop by the roadside in Shanzu area at a junction heading to Pride Inn Paradise Beach Resort.
After peeling the bark of the sticks, the carpenter twists and nails them to fashion beautiful pieces of furniture such as TV stands, shoe racks, poolside beds, kitchen stools, handbag holder, tables, among others.
“I get the sticks from various places in Mombasa and Kilifi counties. I use neem tree because it is not easily infested by termites as it is a medicinal tree. Also by adding a coat of paint, the furniture will not be invaded by these insects,” Mr Mugendi says adding that a single poolside bed can take a day to complete.
After dropping out of school in Class Six due to lack of school fees, Mr Mugendi resorted to casual labours. But after learning how to make furniture from his grandfather back at his rural home in Meru County, he discovered his vocation.
“After gaining the required skills, I saved some money, travelled to Mombasa and started an open air furniture shop,” he says.
“Being by the roadside is a bonus for me because I get random customers and many others through referrals,” says the entrepreneur who seek to woo more hotels to buy his products in order for to make healthier margin.
Majority of his customers are locals, but sometime tourists buy his products which go for between Sh500 and Sh3,000, earning him a net profit of at least Sh30,000 a month.
One of the key challenges he faces is theft and also during the rainy season the furniture becomes wet because the shed is not sheltered well.
“When theft cases increase sharply, I have to hire a night guard, which means an additional cost,” he says adding that he plans to buy land and build a permanent furniture shop to avoid these difficulties.
Mr Mugendi advises the youth to use their skills to not only earn a living but create employment for others. “I have seen youth refusing to do this job saying that it is degrading yet they are languishing in poverty. Turning your skill to business opportunity is the way to make money in this competitive world,” Mr Mugendi counsels.