Entrepreneurship Day July 30, 2014 by Nick Johnson
By: Brandon Wong, 2014 Peacock Fellow
Everywhere you go in Kibera, there are businesses and their owners clamoring for customers’ attention. They include everything from roadside shops that sell charcoal, shoes, or mandazi (Kenyan doughnuts), to barbershops, video game parlors, and athletic stores. In the media, people who live in informal settlements are sometimes portrayed as lazy, dumb, or responsible for their ongoing economic need. Nothing could be further from the truth.
People who live in Kibera are incredibly busy. It’s common for multiple members of a family to work in order to bring in extra money for food, children’s school fees, or climbing rent prices. Often, residents of Kibera will sell goods from their storefront to people that pass by. However, because there are so many people selling the same things or offering the same services, distinguishing businesses from one another can be a difficult task.
Throughout my two months at Carolina for Kibera, I have worked with the staff in CFK’s Economic and Entrepreneurship Department (EED) to support the small businesses in the community. CFK’s economic branch began several years ago with Trash Is Cash, and has since expanded to provide a range of workshops and training programs to business owners interested in gaining an advantage over tough competitors. (You can read about some of these businesses below.)
During my first week of work, the Head of EED, Stella, informed me that they were in the process of implementing a new annual event, called the Marketing Plan Competition. The competition sought to identify 4 entrepreneurs from Kibera with exemplary small businesses, as well as a strong personal ethic and a commitment to improve employment in Kibera. The motivation behind holding this competition was two-fold: to identify and award the most outstanding entrepreneurs that had worked with the program during the past year, and also to encourage and motivate other young entrepreneurs to build and improve upon their own businesses.
And I would say they were motivated. During the 2nd week of May, CFK received 79 written applications for the award. Eventually, these got pared down to 4 winners, 2 from the self-employment category, and 2 from the group employment category.
In addition to the competition itself, CFK threw its first annual Entrepreneurship Day celebration honoring all the applicants and officially awarding the winners with monetary prizes. CFK volunteers performed skits and songs, while others gave rousing speeches and shared business stories. Each time a winner was announced, they were met with raucous applause as they shared words of thanks.
In short, CFK’s first annual Entrepreneurship Day Celebration and Marketing Plan Competition were great successes! Honoring the efforts of small businesses associated with CFK is important for recognizing their role in driving local economic development. Below are short profiles on the 4 winners. Get to know them here—and if you’re ever in Kibera, stop by and take a look!
Frederick Gor (1st Place, Individual Category)
Frederick Gor has been designing and handcrafting a variety of high quality bone crafts for over 10 years, and he has known CFK for 8 years. He works under the umbrella group of Victorious Bone Crafts, and produces a variety of bracelets, necklaces, earrings and bottle openers originally made from cow bones, and other hard materials such as wood. Frederick has learned through the CFK business trainings that his key value proposition in the highly competitive bone crafts market is quality and durability, and he estimates that his profits have risen 20-50% as a result of CFK trainings. With additional capital, Frederick would consider traveling to Zanzibar and Tanzania to sell his stock, however his main concern is starting a poultry farm as a second stream of income.
Teresa Adhiambo (Runner-up, Individual Category)
Teresa Adhiambo has been an independent businesswoman for over 8 years, and has known CFK for the past 2 years. She operates under the business title “Emico and Brothers Supplies” selling omena, a local type of small fish, in Toi Market. Teresa has taken out three Kiva Zip loans previously, two of which she has fully paid back and one of which she is halfway through repayment. These loans have provided Teresa with the capital to, in her own words, “move forward” in business. With additional funds, Teresa plans to stock a new product such as cereal or baby clothes. Because her husband does not currently work, Teresa generates all the income to sustain her household, and she hopes that the profit from her omena business will pay for her children to attend college.
Young Challenges Business Solutions (1st Place, Group Category)
Young Challenges Business Solutions Youth Group, pictured above, provides a weekly garbage collection service for approximately 250 clients near the Nairobi River. Young Challenges has known CFK for 2 years, and the founding members of the group attribute the entire formation and current existence of their trash collection business to CFK’s business trainings and mentorship. In addition to revenue generated through trash collection and the sale of recyclable plastics and second-hand metal, Young Challenges also created a group pool of money for savings and loans. Members of Young Challenges contribute to the pool on a weekly basis, and any member can take out a loan with 10% monthly compounding interest. Last year, the pool totaled over KSH 35,000, and the group split these funds among their 19 active members. With additional capital, Young Challenges would first invest in safety and protective gear for its members during trash cleanups.
Zero Waste Women’s Group (Runner-up, Group Category)
Zero Waste Women’s Group has been designing handbags and other handicrafts out of polyethylene plastic for over 14 years. Khadara Abubakar, also known as “Mama Taka,” has chaired the group since its inception, and continues to instruct other women from Kibera and international visitors in the craft of polyethylene crochet. Abubakar has known CFK since the organization’s founding over 12 years ago, and Zero Waste has been a central component of Taka ni Pato since the program began. Abubakar estimates that the monthly sales revenue has increased KSH 10,000 – 20,000 as a direct result of the CFK trainings. With additional capital, Zero Waste Women’s Group would improve their kiosk and purchase higher-quality machines to finish their handbag products; however, the group also spends much of their extra revenue on charitable, community-oriented projects, such as paying the school fees of children in their neighborhood.