New year, new things right? I’ve decided that from 2018, I will share with you my experience of being a woman entrepreneur in Kenya.
‘NEVER DEPEND ON A SINGLE INCOME, MAKE INVESTMENT TO CREATE A SECOND SOURCE’
If anything, my 2017 taught me not to put all my eggs in one basket. My name is Florence Kamaitha. I am the Founder of Pad Heaven InitiatIve, a social enterprise that produce re-usable sanitary pads, while venturing in the production of low cost disposable sanitary pads.
We have also published a book on menstrual hygiene for school going girls to teach them on menstruation.
Majority of my clients are NGOs and companies, through their CSR departments, looking to distribute these products for free.
2017 was a bad year for business in Kenya. It seemed like we had elections the whole year, and most of my clients already stopped doing purchases in April. We, on the other hand, had inventory of almost Ksh 1.2M in the workshop as all my clients shut operations in Kenya and moved to other areas as they waited for the political situation to settle down.
My team and I sat down and thought of plan B. We did not have a plan B. We were cash strapped. We decided to lower our prices to attract buyers. It did not work.
We started reaching out to organizations in South Sudan, Somalia and even Uganda. At this point, we learned that they run their operations from Kenya. But they were not making purchases till the political situation eases.
Our greatest failure was letting go of our employees. We could not produce anymore. We agreed to bring them back once production resumes. We had to close the workshop and focus on selling the products we already had.
As an entrepreneur, you feel like your main focus is your business. Soon, you realize that your employees are your main focus. It was a really low moment in our business journey.
In the coming months, I thought of a business that no matter the political situation, in Kenya, would go on. I thought of a business that can bring in cash day in, day out. I thought of a business that will bring in revenue if my other business is stuck at some point.
I scratched my head for a few months. I then came up with something that I actually enjoy doing.
In these coming weeks, I will share with you my journey of setting up an agro-processing company in Nairobi.
Kamaitha will be sharing with you #HerDiary every week! If you just can’t wait that long, you can follow her on Twitter @Kamaitha1