Failures Made Me Pull Up By Bootstraps


  PETER KANYI is the director of Fagilia Constructors, a company that deals with construction works. However, his has been a long journey to be where he is today as he shares his story.

A humble beginning is just a step to the right direction
  Shortly after high school, I began working odd jobs that came in handy. My first self-employment was in baking and distributing mandazi (buns) with a bicycle. That was during the early 2000s but I did not last long in that line. Part of the reasons being competition, and rather than compete with copycats who were supplying similar products to same customers, I had to strategize.

Failure is never fatal
  I began dealing with milk buying this commodity from farmers in Nyandarua County and transporting same to Nakuru town for resale, again using the bicycle. I was in this business for about two years, but, like in my previous business, I was also dealing with competition. Also, it was rigorous transporting milk on poor roads then. By that time, there was no proliferation of boda boda motorcycles as is the case today. Some factors like glut of market with similar product, especially at peak seasons, meant all was not well at times.. As I was not making much progress, I decided to engage in farming, growing mainly tomatoes for the market, but this venture did not fare well either.

You can learn a new set of skills as you work
  I was basically jobless for a considerable length of time, but decided to pull myself up by bootstraps. I began working at construction sites as a casual for a couple of years. Other than being an extra, I took it upon myself to learn masonry while at it. I got noticed by fundis who were instrumental in advancing my skills as a builder and recommending where to undertake a short professional course to be certified as a qualified builder. Though I was still being sub-contracted, I would get minor contracts for other projects here and there. However, three years back, I formed my own company, Fagilia Constructors, which deals with projects from planning to completion, and finishing works like tiling, welding, woodwork and artistic masonry/drawing using sand and cement.

Growth is not exponential but a process
At the beginning, I began as the main fundi and would subcontract others depending on nature of a project to do. But today, the company had grown and we’re three masons, all of whom I have trained, two carpenters and six labourers. We do hire extras like plumbers and electricians on a contract basis, like when a need arises in order to meet a project’s completion deadline. It is not without challenges that we’re witnessing growth, though. Competition from established entities is one of them. Also, some clients are hard to deal with, especially where work done may not be commensurate with what they are offering. More, the cost of hiring some equipment is another issue. But what matters at the end is the satisfaction of looking back at a job well done.

Maximize your potentials
Apart from doing construction works, I’m also a signwriter, a landscaper and also do emceeing in events. If there is a slump in construction activity or the project has stalled as a result of the client having financial difficulties to sustain works, I engage in boda boda (motorbike) business as we wait for current and new clients to contact us.

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