Kenyan entrepreneurs Caroline Mutabacho and Diana Ochola, started a beauty product enterprise three years ago with little experience in production, marketing and managing the business.
Started under the company Nature’s Touch, which they registered in 2017, the duo has stood the test of time to build an uprising business.
In Kenya, it is a success for new medium, small and micro-enterprises (MSMEs) to survive for consecutive 12 months since establishment.
This is because MSMEs face a myriad of challenges including inadequate capital, poor infrastructure and lack of skilled manpower rolling down their businesses before they celebrate their first anniversary as indicated in a recent MSME survey by Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS).
Neither of the two entrepreneurs had a background in manufacturing. They only shared the motivation of starting a business to become self-employed and create employment for others.
While Mutabacho is a professional in project management, Ochola has training in human resource but the two friends had a similar interest in owning a cosmetic enterprise.
They built up their knowledge on making the products through tutorials available in different online sites including YouTube.
To reach this far, the duo whose products have been certified by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) have employed diverse strategies.
They have secured membership with Kenya Manufacturers Association (KAM), sought mentors, and invested in social capital and research.
Mutabacho says KAM being a membership of manufactures, opened a space for them to learn from experiences of other industrialists and seek their advice.
“I would really advise any upcoming manufacturer to join KAM. With KAM you are assured of proper guidance which is very important to grow a business,” she told Xinhua on Sunday.
Through KAM, the two found mentors who have been holding their hands through their maiden struggles in their business.
“We have two mentors who have helped us realign our business, guided us on marketing the products and helped us identify gaps in how we were managing our business,” said Ochola, adding that both mentors are in the manufacturing industry.
Thanks to their mentorship, they have grown from one distributor to 17, who spread across capital Nairobi, Mombasa, in the coastal region and Eldoret,in the Rift Valley region.
Social capital, that is, their relatives and friends have remained their marketing catalysts and constant influencers in upgrading their products.
“We are very keen on what our family and friends tell us about our products. They are the ones who market our products and it is their views that will help us become better entrepreneurs,” said Ochola.
The two are currently doing the manufacturing themselves since their production is dependent on orders. In a month, they can manufacture at least 1,000 pieces of beauty products.
“We are always doing research on improving our products,” said Ochola noting of their intention to expand their market to other East African countries.
Ochola and Mutabacho’s strategies of building their enterprise implies to the missing skills among start-ups in Kenya especially those owned by youth leading to their premature collapse, argued Judson Nyabuto, an investment advisor with Stag African.
“The problem with start-ups is that entrepreneurs start off without a strategic plan. They don’t have a plan on how to take advantage of opportunities like mentors or manage risks like change in policies or increase in taxes,” he said.
“It is very key for any budding entrepreneur to get attached to a successful entrepreneur to help them digest the process that comes with starting a business,” he said. Enditem