Every successful business venture or businessman across the world starts somewhere, most of them, humble beginnings. So is the case of Mike Kubai, an IT guru whose success story best fits the adage, ‘rags to riches’.
Kubai owns a printing company among several others and bases his success on sheer hard work, determination, resilience, and above all, God’s favour.
In an interview with Bizna Kenya, the businessman revealed that despite being an IT expert, he found himself broke in 2012 and desperately needed a job to sustain himself. He would then learn of two job opportunities for a lady friend who was a teacher and lived in Mau Town in Meru County.
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One was as a supermarket attendant and the other a car wash attendant, both based in Mau Town. The supermarket offered a pay of Ksh12,000 per month and the car wash paid on a daily depending on the amount of work done.
“I thought to myself, at the supermarket, I have to wait till end of the month. What will I be drinking and eating? No flexibility, personal time, or time to worship. I opted for the car wash where I was paid according to my work productivity,” Kubai explained, revealing that the car wash was owned by two guys who hailed from Mwea, Kirinyaga County.
He was welcomed to his new job by the manager Andrew Munyi, joining a workforce that had employed two class eight leavers, Four Form four leavers, and three who had completed tertiary education. On the first day, he made Ksh265, noting that he spent Ksh150 on food.
On the second day, he had begun to learn faster and was an apprentice to one Sally Mutevu. He made Ksh320. With time, he understood the nature of the job and started locking down clients who could not be served by anybody else but him.
“Most of them would buy me lea’ of like Ksh20, Ksh50 and the likes. I was getting paid Ksh65 for small cars like Probox, Caldina wing-road, pick-ups, corolla etc. We were charging Ksh15 for small cars so the owners of the car wash would get Ksh85 for every car, and I, Ksh65. It reached to a point I would make to 10 cars by 4 PM in the evening,” Kubai explained.
“That would amount to about 650. Plus tips from my loyal customers which totalled to about Ksh1,000 in a day. Some customers comfortably paid me Ksh200. I would give the company/employer their Ksh85 and pocket 115. Opening time was 6.00 am and closing time was 9 PM. I worked selflessly,” he added.
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Kubai notes that he was determined to succeed in life and so he woke up before everyone else at the car wash and got to attend to the early customers. He was his biggest cheerleader.
He built a good relationship with the clients and even had their contacts. He would call them to bring their cars and they trusted him. Even if a customer had left some change on the dashboard, with Kubai, your money would be safe.
“I never took advantage of their forgotten or displaced memory cards, flash disks and other valuables. I was highly disciplined (even now I am). For one year, I used Ksh150 every day for meals, Ksh100 every week for airtime, and Ksh200 for Sunday Offerings. No more,” he said.
Kubai learnt to seize the opportunities around him, and at one time when the garage watchman fell ill, he asked the manager if he could take up the duty, which the boss agreed to. He built a good relationship with the manager to the extent that he would be consulted if the boss wanted to make changes around the workplace.
“No more employees without my consent. You know the more the employees, the less the work and therefore less money for us. That means the earnings would go down. I became a watchman. I would break from washing cars at 7.00 PM and sleep until 9.00 PM.
“Wake up, take supper, then of to work. I’d spend my night on Facebook until 6.00 in the morning. 2012 was the most active year on Facebook. Zuckerburg ought to have awarded me… Then I would sleep up to 8.00 am halafu.. Car washing business starts. I was getting an extra 8.000 Kshs every month for seven months that I was a watchman. It was a good deal by the way. I never strained and it never affected anything!” Kubai said.
He had joined the car wash in January 2012 and by the end of the year, he had saved Ksh230,000 and decided to quit in January 2013. He handed over his clients to his colleagues and went on to start his printing business. There, he would now fully apply his IT knowledge.
“I love Computers. It birthed my first company. In fact, I registered my company in April 2013. The business is thriving so well today. Out of that, several others have been born. You can start from scratch and get somewhere. You only need to be focused, determined and disciplined!” Kubai advices.
“Above all, trust in the Lord. He who gives the power to make wealth! The saddest thing in this story is, there are people I met washing those cars, and left them in the same place. And when I visited that place last year, I met them,” he added.
He notes that wealth, development, health and achievements are in the mind of a human being.