Do we live to eat or eat to live? The mere fact that someone thought to ask such a question goes to show how important food is. Most people have at least three meals per day. Lucy Wanja is a lady who decided to exploit these fact by coming up with a business in the food industry. She opened a restaurant well known to the locals as a Kibanda.
Lucy Wanja describes herself as a mother and a businesswoman. The need to be independent and make a living led to her opening a Kibanda restaurant. She was confident in her cooking skills even though she never attended any catering school. Her delicious meals soon enough attracted the people in the area; from office workers to manual laborers. Lucy was doing so well for a startup and that was the beginning of her woes.
“The owner of the kibanda I was renting decided to take back her kibanda. I think it was a malicious move aimed at putting me out of business and it did for a short while”
People had come to love Lucy’s food which apart from being delicious was affordable too. Some of her clients contacted her and encouraged her to get back in business. She had all her tools of trade but no building to house her restaurant. She raised these concerns to her clients who did not relent in their quest of getting her back to work. One of them suggested that she prepares the food at home then ferry it to a location her previous clients could easily access, serve them and finally carry the utensils back home for cleaning and organizing the following day’s meals. Lucy thought about it and decided to give it a try.
It was not easy at first. Using public means of transport to get her food to the shed (as many have come to call it since it is literally under a tree) was and still is her greatest challenge. “It’s cumbersome and sometimes waiting for the matatu to fill up takes time so I end up arriving late hence inconvenience some of my clients which is very bad for business.”
Located in Spring Valley, Nairobi, Lucy’s shed is very popular with a wide range of people. Responding on how she keeps these people coming back daily she says it’s all in the taste of her food. The price of her food has also been constant despite the inflation in the prices of food at the market. When asked how she deals with this inflation Lucy says no situation is permanent so the trick is to wait it out. The profits go down of course during this period but that is a sacrifice she is willing to make.
As the sole income generator the business has benefitted her in so many ways. “I am able to pay my house rent using the profits from the business, I can confidently say that I sustain myself because of this business and even help my mother financially back in the village.”
The resilient entrepreneur has big dreams and hopes that one day they do come true. She plans to own a real restaurant in future and have more clients to enjoy her meals.