Enterprise

Varsity student taps fellow learners for boutique customers

Ms Cynthia Akach at her stall in Kisumu. PHOTO | elizabeth ojina | NMG
Ms Cynthia Akach at her stall in Kisumu. PHOTO | elizabeth ojina | NMG 

Winmart, a business centre in Kisumu City, is teeming with people who visit salons, restaurants, IT centres and tailoring shops. This is where Cynthia Akach, a Fourth Year media student at Maseno University, elbowed her enterprise way into to launch a boutique two years ago.

Nothing more than a stall whose stocks she hurriedly values at Sh150,00, Ms Akach says she has dependable customers in the army of university students housed at the adjacent Varsity Plaza.

Some are her classmates at Maseno while others come from the University of Nairobi, KCA University and Mount Kenya University.

“It’s now two years since I started the boutique. I set up an M-Pesa shop in January 2017 to help in settling the rent needed to run the stall,” says the 23- year- old whose boutique capital was a modest Sh7,000.

With the help of parents she launched the business that sells men and women clothes and shoes for between Sh1,500 to Sh2,000.

“A close friend was the source of motivation to start the business. I once partnered with the friend in running a boutique enterprise as a second year student,” she narrates her experience.

Ms Akach gets her stocks from Kampala, but uses her social media presence to market, sell, and deliver the orders. The proprietor says her fast growth is a product of “saving culture” and reinvesting her profits.

“The customer base has increased through referrals. I make deliveries of the goods to offices once the customers place orders,” says the student.

When office workers report to their stations at 8am, she also opens her shop and stays on until 5pm when she goes to school within the city, but leaves Sharon, an employee, in charge.

“Sharon steps in for me during the exams. She also helps me a lot with clients who come to the stall in the evening when I am in class,” she says.

When there are no customers, she finds the rare space to look at books, reading and working on class assignments.

Dead stock is a big challenge, she offers, saying some of these slow down the investment while the unsightly and dusty bundle also invites people who pick them up, believing it would take long before the owner notices the pilferage. It’s a big loss, Ms Akach says.