Category Archives: business

Blog business Experiences Learning Team

Five tips to run a successful business

Five tips to run a successful business

Kuza biashara had a community engagement day on the 3rd of October 2018, where a number of entrepreneurs were invited to learn, connect and grow their business. The speaker, Mr. Edward Ndegwa was invited to give the topic of the day, “How To Grow Your Business”. As an entrepreneur who has built five successful businesses and one failed one, Mr. Ndegwa gave several tips to the entrepreneurs who attended the workshop.

Evolve

As an entrepreneur, it is important you recognize that the world is dynamic. Technology as well as techniques keep changing. You have to make sure that you are up to date with current trends. If you were using the traditional ways of marketing, then you would need to change to the new ways such as social media. In other words, do not get stuck in one way of doing things. Just because you think your way is the best doesn’t necessarily mean it is the best. So constantly keep up to date with what’s happening around you and be willing to learn new tricks.

Reputation

Reputation is everything when you are starting out. Create trust between you and the people you interact with. No one wants to do business with an untrustworthy person. Having a good reputation will come in handy when you need financial support or someone to vouch for you when you’re engaging with clients and investors.

Resources

As an entrepreneur, use what is readily available to you at the time. Do not use scarcity of resources as an excuse as to why you haven’t started your business. Start with the idea and the little resources (financial or human) that you have and work to expand them.

Alignment

Make sure to align your goals with who you are and your values. Live within your means as it will take your startup some time before it starts making you money. This means that most of the initial profit will need to be recouped back into the business. Do not be in a hurry to acquire  the latest car model or move to a posh estate because you feel that your new status of ‘entrepreneur’ requires you to. Who you are at this point is a startup and your  goal is to take it off. Shake off anything that does not add value to that process.

Pitch

You have this great business idea, what is the next step you think you should take? Find investors and clients abroad? Wrong. Pitch to the people closest to you before you can take the idea farther. Also remember business don’t do business with business but people do business with people so pay attention to details by listening and pitch according to client. Each client is unique.

Final word

Mr Ndegwa emphasizes that entrepreneurship should be about solving a problem rather than just making money if the entrepreneur is to succeed.

 


Blog business Learning

12 Ways to Promote Your Business Online

Image courtesy: Freepik

Throughout my marketing career, I have heard almost every excuse in the book as to why some business owner was not marketing his or her business.

I have no time, I don’t know what to do, it costs money, I don’t need to market, etc.

But the excuses I’ve heard most often relate to how expensive marketing is. So I decided to write this change your mindset. Because the truth is there are a whole bunch of ways to market your business for little or no cost.

1. Start a Website or Blog

Although you might think that you need to hire a professional web design company to develop a website or a blog for your business, this isn’t the case. Yes, if your business has been around a while or if you want a tailored look or special features, such as high-end design or an e-Commerce platform, you will need to hire a company.

But if you are on a tight budget, you can probably do it on your own. There are free platforms out there that you can use to create an attractive, fully-functional site without paying a dime! For example, you can get a totally free, high performing blog from WordPress. You will have to pay for a domain and Web hosting, but you can find these things for about $5 a month (such as from GoDaddy). For this minimal investment, you can build a reasonably good home base for promoting your business.

2. Get Active on Social Media

If you haven’t used social media (Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, etc.) to promote your business yet, you are missing on an opportunity to potentially have your company or its products go viral. Although you might have seen advertisements for pricey social media marketing campaigns and social media tools, you don’t need any of these things to get started to promote your business. You can sign up for business pages on LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest for free.

By creating complete business profiles and pages, working to gain followers by regularly posting interesting and informative content is a great way to make your business more well-known and to keep your audience base satisfied. It may not necessarily lead to more sales or leads directly. But it is great for public relations and brand awareness.

3. Get Added to Internet Directories

There are a ton of highly reputable website and business directories out there, and you need to make sure that your business is listed on them. For example, Yahoo and Google offer these listings, as do Yelp, TripAdvisor, etc.

The listings are mostly free and you might be surprised by their value. Many of these sites have top search engine rankings. So people looking for your business will find these links quickly because they end up on the first page of search results. You can also gain traffic and potential customers from those who are viewing these sites looking for businesses that are similar to yours.

4. Get Active with Online Communities

No matter what your business or industry niche might be, chances are good that there are plenty of related online communities out there that you can check out. From forums to social media groups and more, these communities can provide you with many great opportunities to promote your business.

When interacting with others on these sites and communities, it is important that you contribute useful and helpful information and not promote your business overtly. But in the process of doing so, you can post a link to your website and say with which business you are associated. This can help you gather up a nice network of connections and establish you as a local expert in your field.

Once people get accustomed to seeing your name and recognize you as an expert, they may want to give your company a try or send business your way.

5. Email and Forum Signatures

Whether you’re posting on forums or sending an email to your grandma, you should always keep your websites URL and your company’s contact information in your email signature. It’s free and easy to do, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a powerful tool. It can spread awareness about your business and help people connect your name and face with the name of your company.

With most free email programs and on most forums, you can set your signature once, and it will appear at the bottom of all of your correspondence without you having to take any additional steps. Quick, easy promotion.

6. Ask for Reviews

Review sites like Google+ and Yelp make it easy for people to rate their experiences with your business. By asking your valued customers to leave feedback on these sites, you can help spread awareness about your business and get valuable feedback from your client base at the same time.

Plus, you might be surprised by the number of people who use these sites. Positive reviews can help encourage users to give your business a try rather than checking out what your competitors have to offer.

7. Create an Email List

Building an email list is vital for marketing. An email list is essential. With a signup form on your website, you gather the names and email addresses of people who are interested in your product or service. You can also add the names and email addresses from business cards of prospects that you have gathered. Or any other list of people interested in your business.

Mailings to these lists are tremendously effective. The list members are prequalified because they have already expressed interest in your business by signing up or getting in contact with you. Your mailings let them know what your business has to offer, and you can keep everyone up-to-date on any special deals, offers or sales that you might have.

It is easy to get started with an email service like MailChimp. Most have free versions. As your list builds and your needs become more sophisticated, you can upgrade your account.

8. Blog Comments

Checking out blogs that are related to your industry segment can be a lot of fun. Not only is it entertaining, but it can help you network and spread the word about your own business.

Sharing helpful, insightful comments are a great way to become a part of the conversation on a blog. It shows to others you are an expert in your industry.

Don’t just leave a quick comment and a link to your site. That’s bad form and just spam. Make sure that you provide some sort of value to the community and the conversation. People will be more likely to be interested in who you are and what you have to say and just might check out your website.

9. Offer Deals or Giveaways

People love free stuff. So offering a good deal or a giveaway on your website or social media business page is a great way to get more interest and business. You don’t have to offer anything big. Often, a small item will do the trick.

These can be something like a coupon code for free delivery or a percentage off an order. But the business this generates can be great and people often share the good news with their friends.

Don’t put yourself in the hole with the offer. But offer something.

10. Affiliate or Referral Program

Start an affiliate or referral program so you can reward your loyal customers for sharing the news about your business with their friends and associates.

There are free online programs out there that you can use to keep track of these programs.

You only have to offer a small percentage of your sales or a set cash amount to those who refer customers to your business. But those loyal customers are sure to appreciate an opportunity to make a little bit of cash for sharing the good word about a product, service or business that they like and use.

11. Check out the Way Your Staff Interacts with Prospects

Review how your prospects and customers are dealt with by staff or messaging software for improvements you can make:

How are people greeted by you and your staff when they call in?

When someone sends an email how fast do they get a response?

Is it the kind of email you would like to receive?

When you call to reach someone and leave a voicemail, will the message entice the recipient to call you back as soon as possible?

These improvements to your sales line are not only inexpensive for you to implement, they are a necessity because you are hemorrhaging sales if they are wrong.

12. Publish an Information Pack

You should put together an information pack on your business or products that someone can download from your website. It can be as simple as a PDF document.

The key is to leave some information off your site and offer it only through the info pack. That way the prospect will have to reach out to you, by online form, email or phone, to get a copy.

For example, you can have testimonials on your website or blog, but leave off any case studies and put them in the info pack. Or you can have tips on the use of your product or how-to information or recipes, etc. and use them for the pack. Just ensure the information is valuable and worth the download.

Final Word
While you may be a bit uncertain about doing some of these strategies yourself, learning how to promote your business with little or no cost is a great way to increase traffic, improve your bottom line and help you achieve your goals.


Author: Johana Mutegi


 


Blog business Experiences Learning

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Let’s talk food. Have you ever stopped to think about where it comes from? Have you ever sat and contemplated about the farmers and all the struggles they go through? We all need food to survive so it is imperative that people understand some of the challenges the farmers go through so they can leverage on their skills and technology to come up with solutions.

Last week together with different stakeholders in the agricultural sector including German Cooperation, Make -IT, Africa Agency for Business and Economic Development, Strathmore University, IBM among others, the Kuza Biashara team had the privilege to meet a few farmers in Ngong to learn about the issues affecting them. One thing that stood out was the passion these farmers carried for their work, despite how it seems like a game of gambling when it comes to their farms considering the risks they have to endure.  For example, they don’t have access to relevant information like weather patterns and market information, which are two of the most important aspects of farming.

Let’s take the case of Pauline Ndumi who grows vegetables in Ngong area. Having grown up with a very strict father, Pauline was introduced to the world of farming by her father who owned a coffee plantation and it was mandatory for Pauline and her siblings to tend to the farm every day.

“I went into farming because I had been doing it all my life, I did not need any training as an adult as my father took care of that, I started going to the farm at an early age of 3 years and so growing up I knew I wanted to do something I was familiar with and also good at.”

Pauline’s parents may have taught her a lot in regards to farming but none of that prepared her for the challenges that farmers face. This she has had to tackle on her own as every season came with its own challenges. These include unpredictable weather patterns that make it difficult to know when to plant. Low market for her produce and the struggle of getting labor force as most of the youth in the area have taken to alcoholism and therefore cannot be trusted.

In an effort to create a bright future for her children, six years ago Pauline decided to buy a greenhouse for one of her sons so he could be able to sustain himself but that did not work out so well for her.

‘I bought the tent for my son Maverick who is mentally challenged to give him a better chance at surviving in this world. It has been such a disappointment. I bought it at a price of ksh. 400,000 nevertheless it is yet to recover the capital I invested. All it has been doing is take take and I see very little progress.”

viewing Pauline's greenhouseVarious stakeholders at the event viewing Pauline’s greenhouse

Clearly Pauline is not giving up as she has already prepared the land for another planting season. She mainly plants spinach but says its market is very low since most people in Ngong plant spinach. She also plants capsicum and tomatoes that tend to do better in the market since they are seasonal vegetables but with her green house she can plant them anytime especially when they are out of season.

“We are still struggling with different issues though. For instance, we use the normal weather applications to know when it will rain and most of the time they fail us because they are not localized. If we could get access to localized weather applications and market information that would be great as it will allow us to focus on farming knowing that other important issues have been handled.”

Kuza biashara has an agripreneur program where farmers are provided a platform to access the agricultural content such as crop advisory, quality inputs, credit and insurance etc .The most unique aspect of this program is its distribution. The content is easily accessed via mobile phones and is distributed through an edge computing device that provides a local Wi-Fi connection that can be accessed even in remote areas.

With a visit from different stakeholders in the agricultural sector Pauline is hopeful that some of the challenges she has been facing will be a thing of the past.

Alice enjoying pumpkinsKuza team member Alice enjoys freshly made pumpkins with some new friends she made at the event.

 

Related article: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/agripreneur-program-case-study-kuza-biashara/

Related Video; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVL3JQ9fl2o&feature=youtu.be


Blog business Learning

Keep the fork the best is yet to come

Keep the fork the best is yet to come

In Business Daily last week, our Chief Mentor wrote an interesting story which said, “Mildred was diagnosed with a terminal lymphatic cancer and had been given three months to live. So, as she was getting her things “in order”, she contacted her pastor and had him come to her house to discuss certain aspects of her final wishes. Everything was in order and the pastor was preparing to leave when the woman suddenly remembered something very important to her.

“There’s one more thing,” she said excitedly.

“What’s that?” Came the pastor’s reply.

“This is very important,” the woman continued. “I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand.”

The pastor stood looking at the woman, not knowing quite what to say.

The woman explained. “In all my years of attending church socials and pot-luck dinners, I always remember that when the dishes of the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say, “Keep your fork”.

It was my favourite part because I knew that something better was coming, like velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie. Something wonderful, and with substance! So, I just want people to see me there in that casket with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder “What’s with the fork?”

Then I want you to tell them: “Keep your fork, the best is yet to come.”

Recently, I found myself thinking of this story within the context of graduation. Last week saw many students graduate after years of grueling work and determination. They had put in their best and now was their time for the next step; searching for a job and all the tasks it entails. This could be drafting a CV, searching online for job vacancies and even walking from office to office to check for job opportunities. Then there is the part of asking for advice from those who have gone before them. Pieces of advice will come pouring in and the sad part is that some of it will be negative. ‘There are no jobs in Kenya, welcome to the world of tarmacking’. This will demoralize some and rejuvenate others just because they want to prove the advisers wrong.

But who says you have to listen to them? They may have had a tough time getting a job or starting a business but your fate is not tied together. Go out into the world with your head held high. You may not know what the future has in store for you but still get excited about it. Prepare for it and believe that it will be a great one.Many are the times you have been afraid of the unknown never thinking that it could be a great time of your life. Moving forward with fear limits you from giving your best. Whether it’s a new job or a new business or anything else really be confident and have a positive attitude towards it. In so doing you will also inspire others to face their fears head on. You will leave a legacy!

https://www.businessdailyafrica.com/corporate/enterprise/Keep-the-fork-the-best-is-yet-to-come/4003126-4752940-jrfdk1/index.html

 


Blog business Entrepreneurial Stories

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger – The Story of Ruth Mwanzia, Founder, Koola Waters

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger – The Story of Ruth Mwanzia, Founder, Koola Waters

Drought is a phenomenon that if not well addressed can be disastrous. Kevin Carter, a photojournalist, understood this all too well when he took the famous photo of ‘The vulture and the little girl’. In the picture taken in 1993 in Sudan, there is a little malnourished girl who is collapsed on the ground clearly starving and the vulture is seen hovering a few meters away anticipating its next meal! Being in such a harsh environment, taking pictures and not being able to help these people weighed so heavily on Carter’s conscious that he eventually took his own life despite his apparent success – as he won a Pulitzer award. So what would you do if you grew up in such an environment?

Ruth Mwanzia grew up in one of the driest parts of the country, Kitui. This is a part of the country that receives very little rainfall throughout the year. People in her village struggled to get water. She was determined not to let drought and famine hold her back. If anything, she would use that as motivation to build a solution around in an effort to contribute to the betterment of her region. She truly believed that it didn’t have to be a permanent situation if something was done about it. She was determined to make an impact and that is how she came up with Koola waters.

Starting out, she faced some challenges as expected with any startup. The market was already flooded with so many brands of water – some genuine and others fake. To handle this competition, she had to do a lot of research in terms of what her competitors were doing and what she would be required to do to stay in the game. Being new in the market also meant that her product was not well known. Most customers would say they couldn’t buy a product they had never heard of.

So she had to do a lot of marketing in the mainstream media as well as any medium she could get.

“Sharing my story in the mainstream media did not only help me with the publicity but many people have come up to me and expressed how my story has inspired them and this is very fulfilling as it makes me realize that am headed in the right direction and I can’t give up. People depend on me for inspiration and not just to quench their thirst.”

Ruth is more concerned with the impact that koola waters will create in her community and the world at large. She gives back to her community by partnering with non governmental organizations to plant trees back in Kitui because she knows trees will make a big difference by increasing the amount of rainfall they will receive. She emphasizes that she did not want Koola waters to be like any other other company.

“What sets me apart is that my water is really good. It does not leave an aftertaste in your mouth. I also sell to everyone from retailers to small shops because this ensures that my product is known by all from the high end clients to the ordinary citizen.”

Ruth Mwanzia at her packaging plant for Koola Waters in Karen

Ruth Mwanzia at her packaging plant for Koola Waters in Karen

The God-fearing lady has learnt that the world of entrepreneurship requires one to be disciplined and patient. The entrepreneur needs to understand that it takes time to start making money and the little that you make in the beginning may have to be ploughed back into the business. She also adds that one person can rarely succeed if they do everything on their own. “When you set out to be an entrepreneur, you think of all the work that will go into making the business a success. What you will need to do and how to do it. A smart entrepreneur needs to realize that they can’t do everything by themselves. For instance, I realized I had some areas I needed help with so I had to hire people with the right expertise in order to grow.”

Ruth attributes her success to God and her family. She has prayed for her business every step of the way and sees how far she has come as God’s doing. Her family has also been supportive from day one when she kept putting off the business and they would tell her to stop procrastinating.

The three pieces of advice the managing director of Koola Waters has for upcoming entrepreneurs is, “Trust in God and pray for your business idea. Put the idea on paper by making a vision board and putting it in a strategic place that will be visible at all times to serve as a reminder of what you want to achieve. Lastly start with the resources you have no matter how small they may seem!”


Blog business Experiences Learning

5 Distractions That Stunt Your Growth and How to Avoid Them

5 Distractions That Stunt Your Growth and How to Avoid Them

I am sure that whatever you are working on right now, you are probably struggling to fight off some kind of distraction.

Being able to focus is an important habit to cultivate and it’s key in determining whether you succeed or fail. If you talk to anyone who has made it, they have had to filter out the noise and focus on their goals.

Today, we highlight 5 common distractions you need to be aware of and tips on how to avoid them.

1. Not Having A Plan for the Day

If you want to get distracted and not be productive, then don’t make a plan for the day. It doesn’t matter whether you generally have a busy schedule or have only a few tasks, planning is key. A daily plan is a step by step guide of how you are going to tackle tasks through the day.
You can dedicate a note book/diary for the activity to be more organized and arrange them in order of priority from the most important to the least important. If there are tasks that you were not able to complete, you can easily note them and plan for them in the next day so nothing ends up neglected.

Cultivate a habit of creating a plan for the next day in the evening so that you are mentally prepared to handle your tasks the next day and you don’t waste time in the morning figuring things out.

Personal Challenge: Buy a notebook/diary that you can use to write down your daily plans so as to focus and avoid distractions.

2. Listening to too many opinions

Many ambitious and self-driven people start off with brilliant ideas, a great vision and a clear plan of how they intend to achieve their goals. However, many of these ideas never see the light of day because of over consulting and listening to too many opinions.

It’s cool to talk to people about your plans and seek advice but it’s important to note that some people will be genuine while others will just be detractors. In this case, it is important to be discerning enough to filter out the important advice from the noise.

Everyone has an opinion, good/bad and when starting something new, getting negative opinions can lead into self-doubt and distract you from your vision.

Personal Challenge: Figure out two or three people who you can ask for advice from about your critical decisions.

3. Multitasking

If there is one distraction that we can all relate to, it’s multitasking. We always feel like we can handle everything at once and still achieve results. However, if you find yourself constantly switching between tasks, then you won’t be able to be productive and focus on one thing.

The way our brain works, every time you switch between tasks, your brain takes a few seconds to refocus. If you are constantly doing this, imagine how much time in a day you are wasting.

Personal Challenge: List down your tasks and try focusing on one task at a time.

4. External Distractions

Our environment can also be our biggest distraction if we don’t find ways to manage it. Most times, we go out of our way to avoid distractions but sometimes, the distractions find us. To improve your focus and be more productive, you need to train yourself to stay away from the things around you that distract you.

  • Is it your best friend at work/school?
  • Do you check your social media every 20 minutes?
  • Are you addicted to playing games on your phone?
  • Do you spend most of your day answering phone calls?

Whatever it is, the funny thing is when we face things that take away our focus at work or at school, we know exactly what to do but still don’t do it.

Personal Challenge: Identify what external factors distract you and come up with a plan on how to avoid them.

5. Internal Distractions

Internal distractions come from our own internal drives; our thoughts, worries, anxiety, hunger, day dreams etc. If not dealt with, these distractions can lead to bad habits such as procrastination, bad attitude, lack of motivation and eventually not hitting your targets/goals.

Some tips you can adopt to deal with internal distractions are;

  • – Always get enough rest.
  • – Drink enough water.
  • – Eat a balanced diet.
  • – Believe in yourself.
  • – Replace any negative thoughts with positive ones.
  • – Whenever you get anxious, take deep breaths.

Personal Challenge: If you feel like your internal distractions are getting the best of you and negatively impacting your work, don’t be afraid to reach out to a therapist or if you are a student, reach out to your school counsellor. From personal experience, therapy sessions are quite practical and help you get to the root of the problem and fix any issues.

Final Word

Is there a distraction that you struggle with? Let us know in the comment section below.


Blog business Entrepreneurial Stories

JACKLINE CHEROP’S JOURNEY TO MAKING YOUR DREAM DESTINATION A REALITY.

JACKLINE CHEROP’S JOURNEY TO MAKING YOUR DREAM DESTINATION A REALITY.

The love for adventure and travelling did not start yesterday. In fact it started a long time ago. Take for example, the story of Lord Egerton, a man who enjoyed hunting and travelling. Those two activities saw him tour different countries in Africa. His travelling inspired romance so he decided to build a magnificent castle to impress his fiance in one of his destinations,Kenya. Unfortunately, the lady turned Lord Egerton down and went on to marry another Lord in Australia. Just like travelling can inspire romance (hopefully with a better ending than Lord Egerton’s), it can also inspire a business idea among other things as it is one of those hobbies that many people share. Through traveling, people get to see and learn a lot from different cultures, view beautiful sceneries, try out different food and so much more.

Traveling has many perks, but it can also be costly and hectic. Since most people travel to places they have never been to before, finding the right mode of transport or just a nice hotel to stay in during their visit can be a hassle. This is the reason most people prefer to use tours and travel agencies when planning for a trip which makes work easier.

Jackline Cherop, the managing director of Densey tours and travel has always been passionate about the travel industry, so much that she studied tours and travels at Utalii College. Upon finishing college, she worked in the travel industry for 10 years before she decided she wanted some challenge in her career and that is how Densey Tours and Travel was born.

“Working in the industry I love was great, don’t get me wrong but I always felt that something was missing. I knew starting my own company would fill that void so I decided to register my company while still working and see what happens. That was back in 2013. The reason I registered my company and still kept my job was that I needed a safety net. I had to make sure that my company was doing well before taking that great risk of quitting my job. Eventually after a year I did quit my job so I could evaluate my life and see how I could focus on Densey Tours and Travel.”

The company offers two types of travel packages, inbound for those traveling to Kenya and outbound for those traveling out of Kenya. The young entrepreneur has also created employment for about twelve people in various departments of her company, both casual and permanent. When asked how she feels about competition, Ms Jackline says it’s healthy and shows that the economy is growing.

“Competition keeps you on your toes and makes you up your game. It also makes you want to learn new things. When more people are coming into the industry it means that more people are getting employment in this sector which is a good thing especially for our youth who are mostly affected by unemployment in the country.”

She may be doing well now but her life has not always been easy. Having been raised by her grandmother among 5 other children, Jacky managed to rise above the adversity she faced to start her tour company. Despite facing many struggles, she still never stopped dreaming and began her business with no networks. Since then, her vision has been to use Densey’ s story to motivate young people build their companies. Her life experience has led her to her current personal initiative where she  sponsors girls to school and mentors them through their school lives for career preparedness.

From a very humble beginning to the woman she is today, it has taken hard work and support from her family. Through this journey she has learnt that one needs to be patient, committed and trustworthy in order to be successful. She enjoys the world of entrepreneurship because it allows her more time to spend with her family. She doesn’t have to wait upto end of the month to get a salary and she has the freedom to make decisions in her company. The advice she has for potential entrepreneurs is “don’t quit your job without a plan!”


Blog business Entrepreneurial Stories

ECO MAKAA SOLUTIONS; SAVING THE ENVIRONMENT ONE BRIQUETTE AT A TIME

ECO MAKAA SOLUTIONS; SAVING THE ENVIRONMENT ONE BRIQUETTE AT A TIME

Earlier this year, the government banned unlicensed logging and charcoal production, leaving millions of people without an important source of energy. The government did this to try curb increasing deforestation, droughts and human encroachment upon valuable forests and agricultural land. Research shows that 82% of the urban population uses charcoal in their homes. What was going to happen to all these people after the ban? Use the alternative sources of energy like kerosene and gas that most consider to be expensive?

Three entrepreneurs received the news of the ban with excitement. They knew a solution had to be found and so they embarked on doing research on an alternative source of energy. Having worked in a research institute before gave them an added advantage. Rose, Kennedy and David put their findings together and realized briquettes was the way to go. So they came up with Eco Makaa Solutions. They knew this would provide an environment friendly solution as well as be affordable to the consumers.

“We understood that the government had to do this in order to protect our environment, instead of sitting around and lamenting on how people would be greatly affected we decided it would be better to find a solution. Besides wouldn’t the world be a better place if we all took care of our environment? We may not be able to see it now but it goes without saying that the future generations will appreciate our efforts of leaving them a better world. We play our part by making briquettes and briquette making machines.”

image 1
Rose looking on as her employees mix raw materials for the briquettes

Theirs has been a difficult journey, so difficult that one of their partners dropped out. They had each contributed ksh. 7000 to begin with as capital. They didn’t have briquette making machines so they had to outsource but that was the easy part the difficult part was getting the people to buy their briquettes because they obviously needed to sale to recover their money and take care of the production cost.

“Convincing people that briquettes were as good as charcoal and even better was hard. Kenyans are generally not open to change, it took a while for us to start making sales. This became too overwhelming for one of our partners who opted out. This did not discourage us, we forged on put in the work, hoped for the best and eventually made progress.”

Their resilience has paid off since they now have their own machines. They have also gone into machine manufacturing to help other entrepreneurs who may want to go into the briquette making business. The great thing about this business is that the raw materials which include sawdust, coffee husks and charcoal dust can be obtained freely since they are considered to be waste products.

image 2
Briquettes being extracted from the machine before going to the final stage which is drying

Most entrepreneurs have a trick or two when it comes to dealing with competition, not ECO Makaaa Solutions. On the other hand they encourage more people to take up briquette making. They train people at a small fee and if you buy their machine training is offered free of charge.

On anyone out there who wants to venture into the world of entrepreneurship the partners agree on one thing, “If you don’t have all the resources you can always outsource just like we did and with time get your own. The most important thing is to start!”

 

image 3
Rose Moses and Kennedy Omondi pose for a photo outside their establishment in Komarock Market

Related Article: http://www.kuzabiashara.co.ke/blog/briquettes/


Blog business Learning

5 Creative Side Hustles to Make You Extra Cash

Courtesy Freepik

There are millions of ways to make money and one great way to make extra cash is through side hustles. The great thing about side hustles is there are options for everyone and your financial status is not a barrier since you don’t need to raise capital.

So instead of limiting yourself, why not step out of your comfort zone and try out these ideas?

1. Running Errands

Running Errands is a great side hustle since it solves a particular problem for both businesses and individuals. Every second, there is someone who is busy and needs help delivering something from one point to another within their environs.

This is where errand runners come in handy. The main benefit of the errands business is it’s flexible especially if you do not have a full-time job and have extra time in your day. However, to make it as an errands runner, you need to always deliver and build trust among your clients so that you get recommendations. You can charge any amount from Ksh. 200 for every errand based on the transport, the item and your service fee.

Here is a success story from George Kamau who is building his empire one errand at a time; http://www.kuzabiashara.co.ke/blog/when-a-business-idea-comes-to-you-in-an-unexpected-place-run-with-it/

2. Private Tutor

August, April and December are the perfect months to start a private tutor hustle in Kenya. If you are a teacher or you have a genuine love for children, this hustle will be perfect for you. The main benefit of being a private tutor is its flexible and you can make extra cash while still maintaining your job.

It is advisable to start with your neighbourhood, build solid relationships there before reaching out to some parents. You shouldn’t also limit yourself to school subjects. If you are talented in other areas such as instruments or sports, you can offer to train the children on this as well for a fee.

Private tutors normally charge per hour or per subject and the price can range from Ksh. 500 to Ksh. 1000.

3. Vlogging/Youtuber

Vlogging is one of those sides hustles that with patience and working smart can eventually make you good money. It’s never too late to start a youtube channel especially because it’s one of the booming platforms for content creators around the world.

However, before starting a youtube channel, here are some critical questions to ask yourself;
What will your videos talk about?
Who is your target audience and why should they listen to you?
How often will you be posting?
What aesthetics will you need to incorporate to make your video more appealing?
What equipment will you need? Camera? Tripod?

To be a successful YouTuber/vlogger, start small, be authentic and with time, you will build your brand and can approach companies that you can work with. If you are an expert at something, for example, make-up and beauty, you can eventually organize or take part in events where people pay to come to learn from you.

4. Writing

Writing is a great way to make extra cash especially because it is flexible and you can work it within your schedule with ease and it’s not physically engaging. All you need is space, a laptop and internet. There are a lot of freelance opportunities online through sites like Kuhustle and Upwork.

You can also start a blog and once it picks up, you can consider affiliate links in your site where you earn a commission every time someone clicks on the link and makes a purchase.
To learn more about writing opportunities you can consider for a side hustle, read our previous article, 15 ways to make money out of writing.

5. Leverage on your talents

Do you have a talent that is so unique to you or something that you do really well? It might be as simple as cooking, sewing or even singing. When looking for a side hustle, this is a perfect place to start. The best thing is you get to do what you love while making extra money out of it and it’s flexible enough to balance with your current job.

Besides talent, if you have any cool skills like negotiating, networking, etc., identify it and figure out how you can make extra cash out of it.

Final Word
Do you have a side hustle? What is it and how do you balance it out with your job? Let us know in the comment section below.


Blog business Learning Recruitments Team

Enrich Your Workforce With These Six Key Steps

Enriching Your Workforce With These Six Key Steps

If customers are the lifeblood of a business, employees are the primer that ensures each cog is working smoothly. Organizing training and empowering sessions for your employees may cost time and money but the investment is worthwhile in the long term.

However, how do companies empower their employees without overspending and possibly spreading themselves too thin? Here are six steps you can use to boost your employees’ skill set.

1.  Do One-on-One Consultations

Companies that consult with their employees one on one instead of through group meetings can obtain more accurate information that they can actually use to make improvements in the workplace. A conducive environment keeps your employees happy, keeps them focused, and allows them to grow personally and professionally. They can only tell you what sort of work environment they want and what’s wrong with the current one they have if they feel comfortable divulging that information. Foster an environment of free and open communication it by doing regular one on one consultations with your employees.

2. Keep Them On Their Toes

Stretch assignments are by far the best way for employees to learn and grow. As their supervisor or employer, you are in a spot to seek out opportunities that are aligned with your employees’ specific developmental needs and professional ambitions. You don’t have to pinpoint the most qualified employee for a challenging project or assignment. Instead, think about pairing the right project with the right person. 

3. Help Them Get Certified

Certification and licensure help build the credentials and trustworthiness of your employees. Not only does it help validate the competence and reliability of your workforce to your shareholders and consumers, but it’s also required by law to get certification to be able to work in certain jobs and industries. For web developers, getting a certification in IT systems is a good investment of business capital towards empowerment of employees. For businesses in the food industry, a food handlers card is a worthwhile investment that takes little time to prepare for and complete.

4. Fine-tune the Hiring Process

Bringing the right people on board is perhaps the first actionable step towards composing a workforce with the right skills. Employees with a high degree of motivation and involvement tend to develop faster as professionals. If you bring in people who don’t even want to be in the profession or industry they are currently in, it will be more exhausting to train and improve them. On the other hand, those who want to be inspired and supported can quickly grow into their role when offered even a small support.

5. Volunteer Your Time Into Mentoring

Based on an excerpt from a Harvard Business Review, today’s fleet of supervisors are mostly overworked and no longer offer their golden nuggets of advice and wisdom to subordinates in the form of mentoring. Companies should support and incentivize their department leaders to pass on their industry experience and techniques to employees.
Mentoring sounds overwhelming at first, particularly for high-level management staff that has little to no experience. However, today’s employees are more than just busy, obedient drones that are okay with being given a set of commands and then performing them no questions asked. They seek professional growth and support.

6. Be Willing to Put in the Resources

No real and lifelong change can start without a real investment of resources and commitment from the company. Enriching your employees’ ambition and skill set takes regular training, seminars, coaching and mentoring, and other educational tools and resources.

Final Thoughts

Being supportive of your employees can have far greater benefits as opposed to the initial costs over time. By empowering more of your employees, your business grows faster and is afforded more opportunities in terms of potential new ideas and more innovative solutions.

Author: Sia Hasan


Blog business Learning

4 Easy Ways to Raise Capital for That Business Idea

4 Easy Ways to Raise Capital for That Business Idea

“I have a game-changing business idea, but how do I raise capital?”

That is the one question in so many people’s minds and the reason why many ideas never see the light of day. To be an entrepreneur in this generation, you have to think outside the box when it comes to raising capital.

Below are a few ideas that you can implement.

1. Find a Business Partner

Having a business partner when starting out not only increases your capital but also boosts your borrowing power as a startup. A survey done by Inc that featured 500 companies stated that 28% of the businesses were funded by a co-founder. So if you have a brilliant idea but no capital, why not look for someone who has the money and bring them on as a partner?

Before engaging a business partner however, ensure their goals are aligned with yours and they add value by bringing something new to the table.

There are also other advantages of having a business partner such as having a brainstorming partner, sharing knowledge & skills and having the opportunity to grow your networks.

2. Join A Chama

A chama (merry go round) is an investment group where members contribute a specific amount of money monthly. After each month, one member is awarded the money and the cycle continues until every member receives their share.

Chama’s are not only a good way to save but they are also an exciting investment platform either as an individual or as the group.

However, before you partner up with a couple of your friends or family to start a chama, here are 3 important things to consider;

  •  Have a shared goal of what you want to achieve to avoid issues down the line.
  •  Run the chama professionally with designated roles for each member with accountability systems.
  •  It’s all about the choices you make. Make wise investment choices for the long term sustainability of your chama.

3. Take A Loan from A Family/Friend, Not the Bank

For those who have successfully launched a business, you know how difficult it can be to secure funding. For young upcoming entrepreneurs in particular, getting a loan from a bank can be quite challenging and that’s why some entrepreneurs turn to their friends/family for help.

Some advantages of taking a loan from a loved one are;

  • You don’t have to go through tough hurdles that banks and other financial institutions put you through.
  •  You two can agree on a flexible repayment system that might give you a little grace period when paying back.
  • Lower interest rates are also an advantage.
  • You get to not only grow yourself but grow your family/friend as well and they will be proud to be part of your journey.

However, there are also a few disadvantages. Legal issues might arise especially if expectations are not met and your family/friend may also feel a huge sense of entitlement and control over the business.

We strongly advise that before getting any support from family/friends, ensure you are legally protected, there are clear terms for repayment and defined roles.

Another way you can involve friends and family is starting a crowd-funding campaign on sites like gofundme.com where they can send in their contributions and support your cause.

4. Join Start-Up Competitions/Awards

The business world is competitive in itself but for startups, the stakes are even higher. This is a challenge that start up competitions and awards aim at addressing by giving this upcoming entrepreneurs a platform to prove their value and get funding.

As a young entrepreneur with an exciting business idea, joining a startup competition is a great way to meet the right people, secure funding and build your brand. Another advantage is the funds do not come with tough expectations such as collaterals and high interest rates from other financial institutions. One other thing to note as well is winning such competitions is not a guarantee of success, you still have to work smart, have a great team and make wise choices to scale up.

Some popular local competitions you can take part in are;

  • Kenya Startup Cup by Mount Kenya University
  • DataHack4i by Nairobi Garage
  •  KCB Lions Den

Final Word

Keep in mind that you’ve got to be flexible and open minded when looking to raise capital and if one method does not work, you can try others.
Do you have any other capital raising ideas? Feel free to share them in the comment section below.

Related Article: http://www.kuzabiashara.co.ke/blog/6-creative-ways-to-raise-capital-for-your-small-business-in-kenya/

 


Blog business Learning Recruitments

3 Ways To Simplify Hiring for Your Small Business

3 Ways To Simplify Hiring for Your Small Business

The success of a business ultimately depends on the people who work for it. Nothing can compensate for poor employees. However, good employees can be the difference between your business succeeding or failing. It’s sensible for businesses to put a lot of effort into their hiring decisions, but they often spend more time searching for the right employee rather than screening and researching the applicants.

Fortunately, there are a few ways that businesses can simplify the hiring process.

1. Use Software

As with every other aspect of modern business, there is software that can help with the hiring process. Recruitment software can be used in several different ways, from tracking applicants to posting job details in areas that are likely to attract those applicants.
In many cases, they can also help to sort and manage the applications as they come in. Some programs are even designed to work with other programs that hiring managers tend to use during the selection process. The vast majority of these programs offer a degree of customization to their users, so they can automate some parts of the process while handling others on their own.

The precise tasks that the programs can handle for their users will also vary from one program to the next, so smart managers will look through all of their options to see which one can cover the largest portion of their needs.

2. Use Video Interviews

There is no substitute for a good job interview, but it can be difficult and expensive to arrange one for applicants who need to travel a long distance to do it in person. Video interviews allow hiring managers to conduct the interview over the Internet, which saves a great deal of time and money while also making it easier to schedule the interview in the first place. That makes them a valuable tool, especially for early interviews before the pool of applicants has been narrowed down to the top few options.

That having been said, it is vital to conduct these interviews properly. One-sided interviews, which have the applicant answering questions that are asked by a computer, are both common and largely useless. They’re frustrating for the applicant, and they rarely provide anything that isn’t available from a written application. Instead, it’s best to use video interviews exactly like traditional interviews. It makes a better impression on the applicant and provides more useful information, so it is certainly worth the effort for most managers.

3. Leverage on Social Media

A large part of the population use social media in some way, and many businesses do use it during the hiring process to find new applicants. At the simplest level, recruiters can use it to publicize new job openings in a way that ensures that many people will see them. This is a great way to find younger employees with technical skills since that demographic tends to have more experience with the Internet than with traditional recruiting techniques.

Some businesses also use social media to conduct background checks on potential hires. That can be valuable, since social media holds a great deal of information, but businesses do need to be careful with it. All of the rules that govern applications and interviews still apply, which can complicate the process. As with every other type of background checking, social media investigations can be a powerful tool for businesses, but they do need to be conducted with care and awareness of all legal requirements.

Final Word

Even a single employee can have a big impact on a growing business, so it makes sense to take the time to make good choices. It’s also an expensive and complicated process, so it pays to find every advantage to make it easier. Using the right techniques will cut down on administrative work and make it easy to spend more time on the decisions that really matter.


Author: Sia Hasan