Second hand clothes, popularly known as mitumba are one of the fastest moving products and attract a lot of traders and customers.
A lot of Kenyans prefer these clothes because they are affordable and some especially grade one are as good as new. The booming business also creates employment opportunities for thousands of Kenya.
Starting this business doesn’t always require one to break the bank given you can begin as a middleman or start as a retailer with a few bales then gradually increase your business’ portfolio.
Most urban centres have designated markets for these clothes. These include Gikomba market in Nairobi, West market in Eldoret and Laini Moja in Kitale.
According to Cathy Muringo, a lady who has been in the business for over 8 years and now imports containers of bales from China, UK, Canada and Korea, the business enabled her to buy her first car from profits she had raked in for a period of just 2 years.
Muringo has a shop named Experience Mtumba Bales located in Mumbai stalls in Gikomba. While talking to TV 47 on 17th August, 2021, she revealed how she began as a retailer, buying a few bales then selling them online.
She was however advised to look for a physical location in order to expand her business and mint more money. Muringo disclosed that most traders in Gikomba are not very welcoming to newbies and prefer bringing in their family members.
Luckily for Muringo, she had previously worked with a foreigner who was in this business and it wasn’t an uphill task for her to lay the foundation of her business.
Due to the fruitful business, getting a loan without security was a guarantee for most traders in between 2013 and 2017 as the only thing the banks wanted was a statement through which they could ascertain one’s credit worthiness
Cost of importing a container of mtumba bales & other expenses
Muringo revealed that a container of bales costs at ksh 7 million at the very least. One is then charged at least 1.5 – 1.8 million in taxes and clearance. Other expenditure include ksh 30k license and rent charges.
A single container has up to 560 bales and she targets a profit of between ksh 1000 and 3000 per bale. For her, she has grabbed the business into a life changing gem and is able to sell the bales within a month thanks to pre-orders and her online Facebook page.
The business lady revealed that she has trusted suppliers and rarely does it happen that her orders are of poor quality.
“You must know your supplier very well, for me always know what is inside the bales,” she told TV 47.
How retailers can make 100% profit
According to Muringo, most middlemen can make huge returns while taking advantage of the numerous pieces that are contained in a single bale.
“The premium baby light goes for 30k at wholesale price, and contains 600 pieces, meaning each piece is 50 bob. The retailer can sell each piece at a price of up to ksh 500,” she disclosed.
In her 8 year stint in Gikomba, Muringo recalls 4 incidents of fire that reduced traders’ hard earned assets to ashes. It remains a puzzle as to why Gikomba always hits the headlines because of perennial infernos. Various politicians always visit the place but their promise to install CCTV cameras end as empty talks with no commitment attached.
“Fires have occasioned huge loses worth millions of shillings and always reduce one back to ‘zero’. Leaders’ have pledged to put up surveillance cameras but in the end nothing is done,” Muringo said.
The matter continues to raise eyebrows with suspicion that various traders who have defaulted on bank loans set their stalls on fire to escape being auctioned. Additionally, it is alleged that stall owners may