Different people have different stories on how they broke even, either in their careers or in business. Some attribute their successes to great referrals, others to education while others (in business) have that one client who promoted them in their first trials.
While others count themselves ‘lucky’, there are those who had a hard circumstance in their workplace that propelled them to instant success, commonly referred to as a blessing in disguise.
The story of Catherine Muringo could be a mixture of all of the above. In a recent interview with NTV, Ms Muringo said that she bought her first car three months after venturing into mitumba (second-hand clothes) business.
Sharing her success story, Ms Muringo said that she was fired from her work in 2016, forcing her to shift to Mitumba business, where she counts herself lucky.
“I came from employment direct to business, I actually didn’t have an idea. A friend told me just try mtumba, it has a lot of money. The same week that I got fired is the same week that I started business and believe it or not things were not bad. I bought some ‘camera’ from Korogocho market and the first customer that I got bought everything,” she explains.
In her first business, Ms Muringo says that she invested Ksh2,000 to buy her first bale. When the first customer came, she bought everything leaving her shop empty, but with money of course.
“My shop was empty, it was just me and the few clothes. She came, parked outside and bought all of them (clothes). She returned my money, and some profits, and I was like ‘this is not really bad’. From there I afforded a Ksh9,000 worth bale from the savings,” she narrates.
Ms Muringo later would get into business full-swing, buying and selling bales of second-hand clothes, although she says she was employed by an established mitumba seller.
After three months, Ms Muringo shifted her focus to Gikomba market where she opened a shop after learning the ropes.
“The shop was worth Ksh25,000. I paid (for) the shop and started with my two bales and I (got) customers, with no bales, with nothing. I got lots of them and things were so good. Within the first month I bought my first car. By December I bought my Nissan X-trail worth Ksh700,000. It was an old one, but I could afford it,” she says.
She says that she spent all her savings to buy the car in December 2016, but was able to continue with business in January 2017, owing to her experience and booming business.
“When we closed in December 2016, I closed with nothing (I had no money since I had bought the car). In January I was able to start again and go on. I could pay school fees, pay rent… it was just smooth until 2020 when Corona came and Mtumba was banned,” she adds.
Ms Muringo however laments that the combination of Covid-19 and the 2022 General Elections in Kenya have slowed down her business, saying that she is currently struggling with the business.
In an interview with The New York Times in 2020, Ms Muringo revealed that she had her customers in Kenya and in foreign markets like Botswana, Uganda and Tanzania.
“Kenyans love to go to the secondhand markets and spend hours looking and searching. Kenyans love the diversity of secondhand,” Muringo told the publication.
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