In the coastal city of Mombasa, where tourists flock to enjoy the sun, sand, and the Indian Ocean’s embrace, there’s a man who has created a successful business.
Anthony Mwalekwa, a 40-year-old father of five, has turned a seemingly ordinary venture into a thriving enterprise known as ‘Millionaire.’
Here is his story as told by WoK
Mwalekwa’s journey began in 1998 when he left his rural home in Taita Taveta County, Kenya, with aspirations of securing a white-collar job in Mombasa.
Like many hopeful job seekers, he spent a grueling week knocking on office doors, only to be met with rejection at every turn.
Frustration and disappointment loomed large in his life, but a chance encounter at Mombasa’s Jomo Kenyatta public beach would change his destiny.
One sweltering afternoon, as Mwalekwa gazed out at the vastness of the Indian Ocean, he noticed a couple struggling to stay afloat as they played in the water.
It struck him that a flotation device could have made their experience more enjoyable.
The following day, he returned to the beach with two worn-out vehicle tire tubes, and he strategically positioned himself near a group of students on an educational tour.
Two of the students approached him, inquiring if they could use the tire tubes to swim. Mwalekwa saw the opportunity and readily agreed, charging them a mere Sh20 each.
Little did he know that this would mark the beginning of a remarkable journey.
Mwalekwa is now a registered tire tube renter with the Ministry of Tourism and East African Affairs and a member of the Public Beach Tube Renters Association (PBTRA).
Over the years, Jomo Kenyatta public beach has become a popular destination for both residents and tourists.
It offers a wide range of activities, including face painting, boat rides, camel rides, and the chance to take a dip in the salty waters of the Indian Ocean, believed to have medicinal value.
Mwalekwa charges adults Sh100 and children Sh50 to use his tire tubes.
He has over 200 tubes neatly displayed in ‘Millionaire,’ each clearly marked to prevent loss or theft.
On a good day, he takes home Sh2,000.
“I have opened a savings account and I’m able to take care of my family’s needs from this tube renting business,’’ he said.
To comply with water sports regulations, Mwalekwa has undergone life-saving training, including a first-aid course administered by the Kenya Red Cross Society.
He is also a skilled swimmer and has volunteered numerous times to rescue distressed beachgoers in the ocean.
Furthermore, he oversees a group of beach operators who work in collaboration with marine rangers and tourist police to ensure the safety of beach users.
With the support of the Tourism Trust Fund and the government, the PBTRA and the Mombasa Boat Operators Association have been able to legitimize and mainstream the activities of beach operators along the public beach.
Mwalekwa appreciates these efforts, as they empower entrepreneurs like him to earn a decent living while contributing to their community.