For Gibson Murage, the proprietor of Modern Furniture Pacific in Nyeri, dropping out of school was a blessing in disguise. He recalls that he was raised up in abject poverty with his mother working as a cook earning a paltry Ksh2500 monthly while the father was a manual labourer in a quarry. However, Murage unchained himself from squalor through learning the craft of carpentry and building his business acumen.
Here is the inspiring story of the 26 year old as told by WoK.
Murage was brought up Nyeri before the family relocated to Nyahururu. He is the second born in a family of 3. Murage’s childhood was tough as the family not only struggled to put food on the table but also had challenges raising school fees.
While in class 6, Murage picked up the slack and decided to support the family by fetching water for residents at nearby dam. He would earn 80 shillings a day after making three trips on a bicycle.
“After school, I would make around 3 trips and earn 80 bob daily. That is what I’d use to boost my mother’s earnings,” he told Churchill TV.
Dropping out of school
In an interview with Churchill, one prominent thing that came out about Murage is his taking satisfaction that dropping out of school built his entrepreneurial mindset.
“Mimi sijasoma, lakini mimi ni mwalimu,” he says.
He detailed that while in form two he made the decision of quitting school due to lack of tuition fees. The matter had weighed down on his mother as she would shed tears over the helpless scenario she was in.
One day, she raised Ksh8000 for Murage’s school fees but he had already made up his mind and never went to school, instead he went to his grandmother’s home.
The grandmother then broke the news to his mother who was infuriated prompting her to take on a journey to meet him. Murage had already eloped but they caught up with him in the nearby trading centre. Point blank; he told his mother that he didn’t want to subject her to more burden as he wanted to take a different life path.
“I told her I didn’t want to study. As a parent she told me to struggle on my own as a man,” he says.
Working in a quarry and learning carpentry
Murage immediately rolled up his sleeves and went to work at a quarry. This earned him Ksh300 daily. He later met his dad and explained to him that he wanted to enroll for a carpentry course.
As a way of supporting his son, he took him to a workshop and paid 10k shillings for him to learn the skill through apprenticeship.
Murage reveals that his zeal and sheer hard work made him a favourite to the carpenters. He would later establish himself as a skilled carpenter who would be paid 600 shillings daily.
Being an own boss
As he worked with his employer, he was once approached to make a cupboard for a client and within a few days he was done. This earned him Ksh4000. Murage realised that if he could become his own boss then he would definitely earn more.
Despite the fact that he didn’t want to betray his boss, the need for an independent business propelled him to take on side gigs. He would later relocate to Juja in Kiambu but found life unbearable. His former employer called him back, this time paying him better.
Incepting Modern Furniture
The businessman revealed that he saved his earnings and bought carpentry equipment. He went on to incept his own business along the highway and employed one carpenter at the start.
As a man who had tasted and experienced poverty, he kept away from the comfort zone and was focused on growing his business necessitating ploughing profits back.
Even after marriage, he slashed his budget to the basics as he needed to buy modern machines. For 3 years, he remained self-disciplined in managing his finances.
“I told my wife that the money needed then was for rent, food and for our daughter and nothing else,” he says.
As he began getting more orders, his landlord doubled the rent from the initial Ksh10000 monthly. Additionally, the electricity charges were hiked from Ksh4000 to Ksh18000. Murage had to find a new place which his business would be based.
Today, his Modern Furniture Pacific which is located two kilometres from Nyeri employs at least 35 carpenters and has grown in leaps and bounds. He has even acquired a Toyota Hilux pickup which he uses to deliver various furniture for his clients. Murage is optimistic that his business will grow tentacles into other towns in Kenya.
In giving back to the society, he empowers youths willing to learn carpentry by offering free training. Recently, he was featured on the media when he offered foodstuff, sofa sets and crutches for two disabled families in Thunguma village in Nyeri.