Caroline was a student at Thika Technical Training Institute. She managed to pay her school fees by selling mitumba clothes to her fellow students and friends. For her three years in school, she paid her school fees from the revenues she generated from the sale of mitumba clothes.
What Triggered Njeri to start Her Mitumba Business
Njeri comes from a poor background and her parents could barely cater for the basic needs at home. Her situation did not deter her from pursuing her academic dreams of studying a secretarial course. She had to find a way to raise her school fees and also manage the upkeep at school. That’s when she thought she could start selling mitumba clothes in Thika town every evening.
How Njeri Started the Sale of Mitumba Clothes
Before joining the school, she needed to start her mitumba business so that she would have admission fees by the time she is joining the school. She started by renting a house in Kiganjo. The next thing she would do was to buy mitumba bales from the Gikomba market. She used some money she has saved after completing her secondary school from plaiting hair and cleaning clothes in her neighborhood.
Njeri started her mitumba business with only Ksh 16,000, which was also meant to pay her house deposit and rent. She rented a house for Ksh 3,000 every month. She paid the house deposit and rent for that month only to be left with Ksh 10,000. She didn’t want to risk all the money. So, she bought one bale of mitumba clothes for Ksh 7,000 and set aside the remaining Ksh 3,000 for an emergency.
To avoid many overhead costs, she would keep the clothes in her house. She would then carry a few of them to school. Most of her customers were her classmates and schoolmates. Some would even make orders of the clothes and she would deliver the following day. To boost her sales, she would sell some of the clothes in Thika town in the evening. She only needed a sack where she would display her mitumba clothes.
The business helped her raise school fees, upkeep money and help her parents back at home. Being a firstborn in a family of four, she needed to figure out how she could educate herself without bothering her parents.
Profits Njeri Was Making from Her Mitumba Business
Njeri would sell most of her clothes for between Ksh 200 and Ksh 300. From every bale she sold, she would make between Ksh 3,000 and Ksh 4,500 profit. It would take her one and half weeks to sell off one bale. In a month when she did not have exams, she would sell at least four bales, which would help her make a profit of Ksh 15,000.
Read also: How John Muthoka makes Ksh 40,000 hawking.
Challenges She Faced in Her Mitumba Clothes Business
Njeri’s biggest challenge in her mitumba business was in balancing between academics and the business. Sometimes, she would miss classes while in Gikomba, selecting the best mitumba clothes. To manage both academics and her business, she would get up early and be in the Gikomba market by 6 am. By around 8 am, she would have already traveled back to Thika with her stock. This way, she could attend classes on time like other students.
Also, at times when she was having exams, it was difficult for her to sell. On such days, she had to survive on her savings. She had to dedicate more time to revision to avoid failing and having retakes in her course work.
The other challenge she was facing while selling mitumba clothes was harassment by the County askaris. She once almost lost her clothes to a police officer until a stranger intervened, saving her from what could have a loss of her stock. She had to cautious to avoid confrontation with the County authorities.
Njeri’s Advice to Ladies in Higher Institutions of Education
Njeri believes that where there is a will, there is a way. She wanted to enroll in a Secretarial course, but she did not have the school fees. She had to look for a solution.
Njeri is now married and a mother of one. She is proud that she did not lose her morals raising her school fees. Instead, it trained her to manage time and develop entrepreneurial skills. She advises girls to put aside pride and look for ways to make their own money instead of relying on married to give them money.