For Rajesh Kerai, furniture has always been more than just functional pieces; it’s been the cornerstone of comfortable living both at home and in the workplace.
Six years ago, as the CEO of Dignity Furniture, he embarked on a journey that would transform his vision into a thriving reality.
With determination and the desire to provide quality yet affordable furniture, Rajesh took the leap and founded Dignity Furniture, a company that sources and supplies imported furniture to homes and offices across Nairobi.
The inception of Dignity Furniture came as a response to Rajesh’s own struggles in finding readily available and reasonably priced furniture for his home and office.
Recognizing the untapped market potential, he decided to turn this challenge into an opportunity by offering imported furniture at prices that wouldn’t break the bank.
With a clear vision in mind, Rajesh and his business partner set out to secure the necessary capital to establish their first showroom in Lang’ata, Nairobi.
They combined their savings with loans from friends and family, eventually raising Sh3 million, which formed the initial capital for the venture.
“We didn’t have the money to start in the beginning, we asked friends and family for loans and added whatever we had saved from our salaries and opened our first shop in Lang’ata.” He recalled.
The modest 2000-square-foot showroom served as a holding area for customers interested in viewing the available furniture.
Their initial target was supplying supermarkets, but the extended 90-day payment conversion period was not conducive to their startup’s cash flow.
However, they swiftly found a demand from offices and corporates, enabling them to convert inventory quickly and build trust with their overseas suppliers.
Building strong relationships with suppliers in China proved to be a significant advantage for Dignity Furniture. Often, they received stocks before making payments due to these strong ties, allowing them to increase their imports and expand their clientele.
Their ability to import in bulk further helped them negotiate better prices and save on freight costs.
The early days of the business were a whirlwind, and like many startups, they had to navigate various challenges, including the lack of a proper organizational structure.
The small team of four found themselves wearing multiple hats, from managing the warehouse to marketing, accounting, and recruitment.
To ensure sustainable growth, Rajesh and his team had to streamline operations, delegate responsibilities, and establish a more defined organizational structure.
Over time, Dignity Furniture’s growth was exponential, and they soon found themselves employing a team of 60 dedicated individuals.
With three showrooms strategically located in Nairobi, the company became a preferred destination for quality and affordable furniture.
Their latest showroom, set to open on Ojijo Road in Parklands, stands as a testament to their success and popularity.
As the business expanded, Dignity Furniture sought to diversify its offerings by collaborating with local carpenters to stock locally made furniture.
While this was a step towards supporting local craftsmanship, they encountered challenges with longer turnaround times and higher production costs due to expensive raw materials.
For Rajesh, time management became a critical aspect of running a successful business. Conscious of the value of time, he maintains a rigorous schedule that allows him to balance work and family life.
Creating a culture of punctuality at the workplace ensures efficiency and productivity, contributing to the overall success of the company.
Reflecting on his entrepreneurial journey, Rajesh emphasizes the importance of seizing opportunities and staying open to new possibilities.
His willingness to take chances, combined with hard work and dedication, has propelled Dignity Furniture to greater heights.
Today, Rajesh takes pride in walking into offices and identifying the furniture his company supplied, a true testament to the impact of Dignity Furniture on the market.
The company’s success story serves as an inspiration to aspiring entrepreneurs, proving that with vision, determination, and the right strategy, one can turn an idea into a thriving reality.
As Dignity Furniture continues to grow and evolve, Rajesh Kerai remains committed to making comfortable and affordable living accessible to all.