Hustling in Porridge Business to Pay Own College Fee
There is this misconception that to be successful in life, one needs to begin big. Successful brand names minting millions in profits did not start big, however. Zipporah Njoki, also known as Nzijo, is an early twenties young woman who goes out of her way to get whatever she wants in life, as nothing comes on a silver platter. For many with no business acumen, Sh200, an equivalent of two US dollars, is not much in terms of seed capital to begin a sustainable business, but not for the young lady who hails from a tough background of Mai Mahiu in Nakuru County. The first of four siblings shares her story here.
"I went into employment shortly after my high school in December of 2017. I have been in and out of several jobs and have worked in a car wash, as a waitress in a hotel, a kitchen cleaner and as a cashier at a wines and spirits shop. However, I can say I began working while in high school. When I was in Form Two, my father was unable to pay for my school fees as he was sentenced to serve a traffic related offence and my mother’s cereal business was collapsing as she could not cater for the family from her meager earnings alone. I had to hustle at a tender age working in several farms to support the family and also pay for my education fees - had to repeat from form one as I was out of school for a long spell. And in between studying, I had to work odd jobs until I cleared high school.
"After losing the cashier job, I decided I was better off being my own boss as what I was getting was not satisfactorily. Selling porridge seemed a better idea as it was not a capital intensive business and with just Sh200, I bought a kibuyu (plastic container) worth Sh50, unga (porridge flour) valued at Sh50, sugar worth Sh50 and a container of charcoal of similar amount and hit the ground hawking porridge. I have been in this business for four months as of present.
"It is not without challenges though that I have reached this point. For instance, weather can slow down sales like in case it is rainy which hampers movements as I do selling on foot. Timing is another factor. Different people prefer different times to be served their porridge and I have to schedule for my customers accordingly so as not to be either too early or late for them. Accruing bad debts is another matter as some customers would like to take the drink on credit promising to pay later with some not paying at all. And being young, there are those customers who want to take advantage of me, especially my body, but I’m principled and focused and know what I want and politely rebuff them.
"The market is receptive and I make good cash in a good day, but when the business is slow, I have to be content with the little I have. And here is what I have to say; nothing comes easy and everything needs commitment, sacrifice and hard work to achieve. You don’t need to start a business in a big way but you can start with the little you have and be patient as it picks up to be a brand. And if the day’s outcome is a loss, don’t despair but bear it as there are those days everything looks bleak; and if a profit, reinvest to boost growth. As my parents are still unemployed, I’m the family’s breadwinner but still manage to save little by little to enroll for a media course in the future."