In Francis Ndore’s open air ‘shop’ along Links Road, Nyali in Mombasa, furniture made using curvy roots, tree branches and trunks are arranged strategically to attract customers passing through the busy road.
The furniture — made from hardwood such as mangrove, mwarubaini, and mvule — includes coffee tables, lamp stands, sofa beds, hand bag racks, television stands, picture frames, book shelves and sunbeds.
Mr Ndore, 30, said the natural look of the tree parts that he chooses trigger ideas on the kind of furniture he makes.
“If given plain timber now, I may not know what to do with it. I love using tree parts with curvy or hollow shapes,”said Mr Ndore.
Mr Ndore left school 13 years ago because his poor parents could not afford his secondary school fees.
He found a manual job in a wealthy Mombasa businessman’s home. While working there, he developed interest in unique furniture, where carpenters made goods from crooked tree parts and did not alter their natural look.
During his free time, Mr Ndore interacted with the carpenters and quickly learned the art of making strange-looking furniture .
Three years later, his contract at the businessman’s home ended. Mr Ndore resorted to self-employment and set up a small open-air carpentry shop beside the road.
The products cost between Sh5,000 and Sh50,000 each.
Mr Ndore said his customers include high-end hotels, home owners and tourists.
“I advertise my products on Facebook because of the large audience. Before, I used to take pictures and make a portfolio of the products. I then visited hotels seeking clients. I still use the same method sometimes,” he aid.
The father of two said that his business caters for his family needs as well as those of relatives, including paying fees for some.
Also, the business has enabled him to buy a vehicle which he uses to deliver goods to clients and ferry people within the Mombasa.
He added that despite the business being lucrative, there are numerous challenges.
“The hardwood I use mainly is from Malindi and Kilifi which requires a lot of money to ferry them. Also, the business requires patience because it has its low and high seasons,” the entrepreneur said.