Steve Mululu: Journey From Kenyan Slums To Owning Multi-Million Business Empire In South Africa

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Steve Mululu: Journey From Kenyan Slums To Owning Multi-Million Business Empire In South Africa
Photocredit/Courtesy

By Prudence Minayo

Steve Mululu was born in Western Kenya. With no formal education, he knew he had to employ his entrepreneur streak to break the chains of poverty he was accustomed too since childhood. His capital was his physical strength. Today, he owns a chain of health and fitness centers in South Africa. He believes that Africans can achieve more if only they could change their mentality. 

“We always come into any situation from a point of underprivileged, am not good enough. Unfortunately, the world is a mirror of your thoughts. If your body is made of what you eat your life is made of what you put in,” he said adding that people focus on the physical barriers rather than the spiritual abundance.

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Here is his story as told by WoK.

Background

He was born in a polygamous family with his father having four wives and 60 children. As a boy in the family, his physical strength was of much importance since it meant he was great at manual work. His father did not put much stock in education as long as his children could work.

Eventually, like many young men, he was lured to the city which promised a better lifestyle. When he arrived in Nairobi, he realized his physical strength meant nothing if he had no skills. With no education, there wasn’t much in terms of jobs. 

“In the city, for you to survive you have to have specific skills. And unfortunately skills come from going to school. Now, my father is not one of those people that invested in education because it wasn’t a priority. Just being a boy for him was good enough because am strong I’ll be able to work long on the farm. So, going to the city what used to be my strength became my weakness,” he said in an interview with Nigerian content creator Tayo Aina. 

Manual Labor

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He resorted to manual labor to make a living and finally ended up getting employed as a packer at the Kenya Cereals Board. Looking at those employed there, he realized most were stooped. He asked an old labourer how long he had worked there and he said forty years. Looking at him, Mr. Mululu knew it wasn’t the kind of future he wanted. It reminded him of the same repetitive lifestyle in the village of waking up early, working and going to sleep. Knowing it was not what he desired for the future, he quit the job. He knew once he started there would be no stopping. 

“I noticed that my colleagues were all walking with a visible hunch and limp. I pulled one of them to the side and made some small talk in a bid to know more about the job. One of them told me he had been working at the warehouse for 40 years. I quit there and then,” he shared.

Physical Fitness

He took up boxing and would visit gyms where he would watch fitness enthusiast training. This was an epiphany for Steve Mululu.

The businessman relocated to South Africa where he worked as a trainer in one of the biggest clubs. He at times saw the frustrations in people’s faces and knew he wanted to create something that would not only help people be fit but will also make sure they enjoyed the process. 

Becoming a Businessman 

Steve Mululu began scouting for a location to put up his fitness center which was inspired with the idea of creating a Disney World for adults. The landlord wanted three months deposit upfront and it was hard getting an audience from him. He would show up in his trainer uniform and the landlord would refuse to see him knowing from how he looked that he couldn’t afford the rent. The equipment was also expensive as the manufacturer needed 50 per cent paid upon ordering and the remaining half upon delivery. 

He went to the internet and found the email address of the Life Fitness International sales director. The entrepreneur sent an email sharing his vision and continued to do so every Tuesday for 12 conservative weeks until one day he received a call from the sales director. The director bought his idea and the two planned a meeting in South Africa. He flew in and Mr. Mululu told him to talk to the landlord. He knew the landlord was likely to listen to him since he was a sales man and he had his American accent going on for him.

By this time, he had sold the idea to 100 people around the suburbs of Sunninghill, he knew there was no going back. This is how he started his business, Dream Body Fitness, which has stood the test of time and stands as a testament of what believing in dreams and working towards them turns them into reality. 

At first, he did everything for the business by himself until he expanded and hired more people. He was forced to go from a trainer to a Business owner and had to learn everything including understanding the nitty gritties in legal documents. He would wake up to study for two hours everyday and today he has been able to acquire a wealth of knowledge.

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