“I was born in a family of 8,we grew up taking sugarless porridge for breakfast and when I began dating I borrowed my brother’s pair of trousers in order to look presentable”- Charles Njiru
There is always a big difference between rich and wealthy people basically because the latter have sharper mindsets and focus on expanding their net worth within a time based period.
Wealthy people are able to set ‘SMART’ goals, diverse their income streams and more importantly have learnt law number 11 of the power book: ‘learn to keep people dependent on you’.
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This is the story of Charles Njiru, a wealthy man who rose from coal to gold as he maintained his balance on the ladder rungs despite strong reeling forces.
In the 1980’s Njiru had completed his secondary school education, and learnt the craft of tailoring through which he earned a paltry ksh 300 a month.
However, Njiru soon noticed that the market was soon clustered with a number of tailors which forced him to change gears and venture into farming.
At their Karaba village in Kirinyaga county, Njiru began growing french beans and tomatoes. The serial businessman says his wife’s support proved an inspiration to work even harder.
“She loved me, even without anything, but perhaps she noticed my determination, good communication and I told her not to worry because the future would be luminous,” Njiru told Lynn Ngugi.
Through farming, Njiru earned ksh 2500 and realized there was a big market niche in supplying herbicides in the village.
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The unflinching father of 3 would wake up as early as 4 a.m to board a vehicle to Nairobi, buy the herbicides and sell to farmers in the village. The booming venture yielded results and within no time Njiru began making two trips daily.
“Within one month, the ksh 2500 had compounded to 60k, 200k in two months and on the third month I bought a motorcyle then my first vehicle after 6 months,” revealed Njiru.
The tycoon then started his own agrovet venture but soon closed it down after he realized the mushrooming of a number of competitors.
His newly found investment was a supermarket and boutique. Through profits made in the supermarket Njiru bought 2 minibuses for public transport.
However, the sector wasn’t a smooth ride and he realized the matatus were eating into the supermarket investment. Among the challenges Njiru cited were police and municipal officers harrassment and dishonest drivers. He sold the vehicles then took a bank loan and procured 6 lorries.
Njiru’s idea was to supply construction materials especially sand from Ukambani to Nairobi.
But as Elon Musk once said, starting a business requires one to have a high pain threshold; Njiru’s new investment flopped as he was required to frequently replace tyres even as his drivers overloaded the lorries.
The 58 year old sold off the lorries and started a maize milling industry. However, in 1984, drought struck the Kirinyaga region and the machines went silent as there were no raw materials.
As advised by farmers, Mkombozi then converted his industry into rice milling.
“They told me of the wide market niche in milling of rice and asked me to figure it out. They promised to be loyal customers of my firm,” Njiru revealed.
True to the farmers’ words, as Njiru’s new investment called Nice Rice Millers Ltd was churning out rice, his net worth was taking an unprecedented rise as he was soon forced to purchase 2 more machines to meet the farmers’ demand.
To maintain a loyal customer base, Njiru offers free storage for farmers produce and has constructed an ultra modern market hall where farmers sell the milled rice. Due to the free services he offers, he has been nicknamed ‘Mkombozi’ a swahili name which roughly translates to liberator.
Njiru only charges ksh 3 for milling a kilo of rice. According to him, the 3 machines each mill upto 50 tonnes daily meaning he makes a gross income of ksh 450k in 24 hours.
Nice Digital City
The businessman now owns a mall that is comprised of a bar, restaurant, supermaket, guest rooms and tyre centre. He has employed over 350 people and takes pride in customer satisfaction. His venture is named Nice Digital City and is based in Mwea.
Charles Njiru Family
The 58 year old is married to Catherine Muthoni and they run their business together with their 3 children.
According to Njiru, none of his children will ever look for employment as he has mentored them to focus on building a multi-generational empire, just like Indians do.
The first born, Josiah Kaburu is in charge of the petrol station. Their only daughter, Rachael Wambui does auditing while another son Joel Kariuki is in charge of marketing.
6 Business Lessons To Learn From Njiru
- Always start an enterprise that is focused on solving the problems of the community.
- Diverse your income streams and never keep all your eggs in one basket.
- Instill discipline across all the departments of your business. According to Njiru, his priority is to focus on customer satisfaction and that is how his employees are trained.
- Impart and reinforce your business acumen to your children.
- Build a network. Njiru has done this through building a hall for farmers to sell their produce. He also has maintained a credit worthy records with financial institutions.
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