By: MWALIMU ANDREW
Although Mwisho was Lami had no representative at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit held in Nairobi last week, I can assure you that this great hamlet has amazing entrepreneurs.
President Barack Obama would have been impressed by many of them whose creativity, grit, foresight, perseverance and never-give-up attitude have seen them survive in a difficult business environment.
Other than yours truly and a few colleagues at school, the chief, MCA, and dispensary workers, the rest of the people in Mwisho wa Lami make a living purely from entrepreneurship.
Join me in celebrating a few of them:
Hitler the Thirst Quencher
Not many business people in Mwisho wa Lami can confidently say that their business has helped them. Hitler is the exception.
He is Mwisho wa Lami’s oldest entrepreneur, having served my grandfather, my father and is now serving me. I have no doubt he will serve my children.
His ability to change with the times – like when he shifted to serving us from his maize plantations; his never-give-up attitude – in the face of frequent police arrests; and deep understanding of market dynamics have seen him remain the undisputed thirst quencher in Mwisho wa Lami.
And he has something to show for it: a good house, three bicycles, a well maintained wife and well-educated children. His last born is now in Form 3 while the rest all went to polytechnic.
Rasto the Jack of all Trades
For years, whenever your jembe, panga, slasher or knife needed a handle, there has always been one person to go to in Mwisho wa Lami: Rasto. Having inherited the skill from his father, he is the first to fully commercialise this skill. Unlike his father, Rasto did not just end at making handles.
He learnt about bicycles, Radios and TVs. He did not go to school. The entrepreneur in him pushed him to learn how to repair these things.
If you have ever passed at his home, you will agree with me that at any given time, he is either repairing a bicycle, radio, or making handles that he now sells on market days.
Recently he started repairing umbrellas and I have seen people come to him from far and wide to have him repair their umbrellas. It is therefore no wonder that Rasto is one of the most liquid people you will ever meet in Mwisho wa Lami. At Hitler’s, Rasto rarely takes pick-ups on credit since he has a few coins to spend every day all year round.
Alfayo is one of those entrepreneurs you can say saw a need and met the need. Unlike many entrepreneurs who merely took over and commercialised their father’s occupations, Alfayo is different. His father never reared any cattle.
In fact, Alfayo himself rears no livestock, but over the years, he has distinguished himself as an expert in livestock matters – specialising in cattle.
He is a vet who knows all herbs for all livestock ailments. If you visit his house, you will find all manner of herbs in different packages.
Alfayo has also successfully applied the principal of diversification: he also treats people using herbs and we have testimonials. A few years ago, he learnt how to use the syringe and has been specialising in treating women, who troop to his home for treatment.
Nyayo the termites harvester
After trying his hand at various things, Nyayo seems to have settled on one profession – harvesting kumbekumbe.
While this is something we all grew up doing, no one ever imagined that you could sell them. Except Nyayo.
Last year in April during the heavy rains, he harvested so many that he started selling them at the market.
The sales were good and he has never looked back ever since.
The only challenge is that there are various varieties of kumbekumbe that come during different seasons.
In between, Nyayo collects mushrooms for sale but this too has its seasons. Whenever kumbekumbe and mushrooms are out of season, it is never advisable for Nyayo to visit you. He always walks away with your valuable.
That said, Nyayo’s entrepreneurship skill win simply because of its creativity and uniqueness.
Anindo the mandazi queen
As soon as I abandoned the mandazi business on the weight of debts, Anindo, Nyayo’s wife, took over. Unlike me who has school duties, Anindo has all the time to supply the mandazis to customers, and visit them back collecting the money.
Unlike me who was interested in selling to everyone, Anindo choses her clients carefully.
The school is also a great market for her and she is always there during break time. There have been complaints from parents that many children steal coins at home to use them to buy Anindo’s mandazis but we have all agreed that Anindo’s is legitimate business.
Lutta the chicken monger
You know Lutta as the meanest teacher in this side of the Sahara. He also happens to be the most monied person around – other than the shopkeeper – although he doesn’t show it. When he is not teaching, which is most of the time, Lutta is a regionally recognised chicken monger.
He buys chicks, feeds them and sells them at a profit. He also buys fully grown chicken at low prices and sells at high prices.
Two years ago, he started leasing out chicken. It’s a simple plan: Lutta gives you hen to take care of, once it hatches, he takes it away plus the chicks, – only leaving you with one or two chicks. It is relatively successful since quite a few homes have subscribed. Slowly by slowly he has very few chickens at his home as most are in people’s homes.
It is not uncommon for him to send a buyer to collect a hen from your home a day before hatching!
He must be doing well, for he is our local shylock – but only lends to teachers. If any person who is not a teacher needs an emergency loan, they must come through a teacher.
Dre, the king of startups
I do not like bragging but if there was any award for the highest number of startups in Mwisho wa Lami and its environs, that would be awarded to me.
I was once an oil baron – supplying kerosene to the entire Mwisho wa Lami; home shopkeeper who sold most household items from the house; chief mandazi baker – a business that collapsed on the weight of debts; done tuition for students among others.
Despite all these start-ups falling by the way side, I remain hopeful that I will one day be a great businessman. My idea of owning several posho mills, owning a fleet of boda boda bicycles and motorcycles, as well as opening a chicken butchery at Mwisho wa Lami are all original ideas which should I get some good financing will surely take me places.
So next time the Global Entrepreneurship Summit goes mashinani, Mwisho wa Lami would be a good venue to showcase how local entrepreneurs are changing the lives of people.