The high rate of unemployment in the country has pushed a majority of Kenyans to come up with innovative ways of making a living. From touts, food vendors to mama mbogas, the informal sector has proved to be bread and butter for a majority of the population. Janet Chepkoech, a Kericho resident, is employed and makes more than some mid-level managers from hawking porridge.
Here is the story of the entrepreneur who makes an average of Sh4,000 per day as told by WoK.
Starting the business
Janet Chepkoech started her business five years ago, according to the Kenya News Agency (KNA). She sold porridge to locals and officers working in government offices in Kericho town. A typical day for the trader begins at 4am. The mother of two makes and sells about 10 liters of porridge with five of these being fermented. By mid morning, she sells about 100 chapatis.
“On a good day, I sell 10 liters of porridge that is 5 liters of fermented and 5 liters of unfermented porridge with a cup costing Sh20 and over 100 Chapatis by mid-morning and that is how I make Sh. 4000 a day. With that kind of money, I am able to save and participate in table banking groups as well as fend for my family,” She told KNA.
Like many other people in business, she was also affected by the p@nd3mic as demand for her porridge and chapatis went south. A lot of people stayed at home meaning there were no offices or traders to sell to. It was a very difficult time for her as her expenses became more than what she earned. When the restriction period was over, she bounced back and continued to push her business.
“That’s the spirit. In business, one must develop thick skin. I just had to bounce back; I had no other option. During the lockdown, my daily expenses skyrocketed and my income was very low as most of my customers worked from home,” Chepkoech was quoted by KNA.
She also changed tact of how she ran her business,
“It was a difficult time but I also had the opportunity to change tact and introduce new ways of reaching out to my customers who really love and appreciate my sour porridge. So, for me, the pandemic was a blessing in disguise,” Chepkoech explained.
Securing future for her children
The single mother of two is able to pay her children’s school fees and is determined that both of them should achieve their dream. One aspires to be a lawyer and the other a doctor.
“My children who are both in high school have chosen great careers. The firstborn wants to be a doctor and the last born wants to be a lawyer. I am determined to give them the best with the little I earn and to ensure they fulfill their dreams. That is why I wake up at 4 am every day to prepare porridge and chapatis to sell in town,” Chepkoech revealed.
She went on to urge women to work for their money and not rely on men.
“I challenge all women, not just single mothers but all women should work hard and smart to earn their income instead of being dependents. There is joy in having your own money,” she advised.
Future plans and lessons
The entrepreneur plans to get the necessary certification from micro and small enterprises authority to enable her to expand her business.
The businesswoman believes that it is vital to know branding skills so as to gain customers. Maintaining hygiene and developing a good rapport with customers is important to her. She believes customers are a very big aspect of her business. Janet Chepkoech accepts both their praises and corrections without making a fuss. One day, she hopes to expand and even use these skills to run a restaurant.
One thing she believes is essential in any business is discipline, especially when it comes to money. This is the reason she saves her money and also participates in a table banking group.