To stay afloat in business especially in the small and micro enterprise sector where traders face a myriad of challenges including funding, one needs perseverance, patience and strong shock absorbers.
These are the words of Charity Mukuba, owner of Chetkuba Samara, a company dealing in interior décor based in Meru town but with a reach in more than six counties, including Nairobi.
Ms Mukuba’s job entails working with a team of painters, masons, carpenters and tailors who she directs on how to decorate a house. She also supplies curtains and hand bags.
Looking back at how she got into this line of business, Ms Mukuba recalls juggling with several hustles before settling on interior décor.
In high school, she liked stitching so much that she was always the best student in home science. But after completing secondary education studying tailoring, which she considered outdated, was not on the list of courses she intended to pursue.
Instead she went for catering and sought a job in tourist hotels. She thought that working in glamorous hotels in Nairobi would be more rewarding.
“After about six months I discovered that my decision was wrong. I particularly did not like it when men made advances at me and expected cooperation. I felt as though I was chained so I quit the job,” she said. She hustled selling insurance for nearly a year until 2011, got bored again and quit. This time she decided to go back to tailoring. She bought a small machine, and started making handbags which she sold online using the Chetkuba Samara business name.
Business was good for two years before it went under. Faced with the high cost of living, Ms Mukuba decided to move to Meru town. “I have learnt that in business, when you think you have explored all avenues and feel like quitting that is when the big break comes,” she said. It was not until October 2015 when things started looking up; a group of investors who were seeking to enter into the region with interior décor products contracted her. She helped them set up a display platform in Meru town and although they did not pay well or partner with her as she had hoped, she left with a fortune — experience and exposure — which she treasures to-date.
“I worked for three months but they paid me only Sh5,000 and I was very disappointed because I felt exploited.
“But looking back, I thank God for the opportunity and patience because the experience gave me a starting point,” she told Enterprise in an interview at her shop last week.
She used the money to secure space at Gakoromone market before moving to her current premises six months later after doing her first major interior décor job worth about Sh5 million.
Her next big job was for a client at Karen, Nairobi, where she was tasked with designing and decorating a research centre in a contract worth Sh4.5 million.
She said that although it went without a hitche, she was worried since it was her first major client in Nairobi and would be used to measure her ability.
One of her unique products is the canvas handbag, which she said is popular with her clients in Nairobi. “I discovered that at times people carry their bags in the rain, the contents get wet so I designed one with waterproof lining.
“I also do organiser bags that can be put in car boots or in the house,” she said, adding that the items go for between Sh500 and Sh2,500 depending on size.