Rachael, or Ray as she is known to many, is an astute businesswoman who has made millions importing goods from China and selling them in Kenya. A God fearing woman, Ray sells medical supplies from machinery, wheelchairs to microscopes. During an interview with Lynn Ngugi, she shared her journey, failures and lessons in business.
Here is her story as told by WoK.
Background and Education
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She is the first born in a family of five girls. After high school, she attended Outspan Medical College which really transformed her life. The college is Presbyterian and learners are taught a lot about God.
During her time at Outspan, they were also taught entrepreneurship. Her journey in the world of business began at this institution as she would sell mandazi, sweets, among other things. By the time she was leaving, she had managed to save some money and decided to get into business rather than medicine.
One of her first business ventures was non pharmaceuticals products like, gloves and syringes. She found a supplier on Alibaba, and bought 40,000 boxes of gloves. She received them in good condition only to realise they couldn’t stretch hence it would be nearly impossible to sell them.
By this time, she had spent at least Sh180,000. She found herself with dead stock which she later gave out for free when the pandemic hit.
She got into the clothes business. First, she bought mtumba but the stock was not moving as fast as she wanted. She opted to buy new clothes in Uganda and sell in Kenya. The business was so tiresome and she felt it was not her thing.
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The businesswoman decided to approach her Ugandan suppliers and asked them where they got their stock. They told her it came from China and they were planning a trip there soon so she could join in.
Without telling her mother she booked a 20-day trip to China. On arrival, they picked her, put her in a hotel and she was on her own. They promised to help her but they were extremely busy as they only had two weeks in the country. They encouraged her to venture out. She walked around China and couldn’t find affordable products to sell back home. The businesslady was so discouraged she asked her travel manager to push back her flight.
Meeting fellow Kenyan
A few days to her departure date, she was lucky to meet a Kenyan who recognized her by the wrist band she wore that bore the Kenyan flag colors. At first, she wanted to ignore him but decide to replied. The man realized it was her first time in China since she was about to enter a mall that sold hides and skins and people rarely ventured there.
He dedicated the entire day to teaching her how to do business in China and told her to always take business cards from sellers. By the end of the day, she had learnt so much and the man went his way. It was not until later that she discovered he was a politician from the coastal region.
Using the business cards
The next day, she used the business cards to visit various stores and take pictures. She didn’t have the money to buy most of the things, however, she posted them on her WhatsApp status. When her contacts realized she was in China, they began sending her money to buy what they wanted and which she shipped to them. Of course, she put a markup so she could earn something but the products were still cheaper compared to Kenya.
Ray ended up staying in China for thirty days and made enough money to buy her stock which she returned to sell in Kenya. This is how she started importing designer sneakers and t-shirts from China and selling them to make a profit.
The trajectory of her business changed during a flight to China. She sat next to a Nigerian who told her while her business was good, it was not the best. She needed to do something that would bring in more profit. While she was hurt by his wording, she ended up looking for something else when she got to China. She settled on hospital machinery which she realized were way cheaper in China. A machine that cost less than Sh20,000 there cost more than Sh100,000 in Kenya. This was how she started supplying medical equipment.
She had no office and operated in the same small room where she would sell shoes. One day, a doctor from Nakuru told her she needed a place to sell equipment. He then proceeded to tell her that he was giving her a tender to supply hospital equipment. He told her to prepare a proforma invoice, and even helped get correct some things in the invoice. She supplied a whole container in forty days with everything as agreed and this opened numerous doors for her.
Sharing her Knowledge
As she became successful in business, she decided to take other aspiring entrepreneurs under her wings, teaching them about business and the lessons she has learnt. She shares her knowledge on various platforms including Tik Tok and Telegram.
As a strong believer in God, she encourages people to do business with clean money. They would rather borrow than use shortcuts to get money.
During the interview with Lynn Ngugi, she advised on the need to have the right documentation before doing business. During one of her transactions, she lost millions after importing stuff only for the doctor to refuse to pay her. He even got his lawyers involved to make her hand over the goods without payment. The enterprising entrepreneur also encouraged people to start with what they have.