“The person who puts his hand and heart into doing whatever they find to do will reap rewards,” says Simon Gikonyo.
The 47-year-old who operates an electronics repair shop at Kamfam estate in Lanet, Nakuru knows what he is saying. With 25 years experience, his has been a long journey to financial freedom but he has no regrets over the path he took.
Born and bred in Nakuru the father of four has been in self-employment virtually all his adult life except for brief stints when he did odd jobs. Without any form of formal training, Simon had to rely on his God-given talent which he discovered by chance.
It all started when his radio malfunctioned and with no money to take it to a fundi, Simon decided to repair it on his own. The results took him by surprise after it blared back to life. He was then about 20-years-old and this incidence convinced him that he was onto something.
Armed with nothing but determination and a few simple tools, Simon rented a room and announced his specialty.
At first, it was tough for the self-styled expert starting out as a novice but the field was not that crowded back then and many of his initial customers only brought him radios.
“Back then, television sets and other electronic gadgets were viewed as luxury items that only the rich could afford,” he says.
The situation is however, very different today with the bulk of electronic items in his workshop being television sets, a few radios and mobile phones.
The man who lauds himself as a hands on experienced expert says he honed his expertise from the many mistakes he made in attempting to fix problems.
“At times, I ended up messing the gadgets I was entrusted to repair. The results were always worse than the state they were brought in,” he says noting that such items ended up as pieces of junk at the back of his workshop.
Entry of the mobile phones was a game changer for Simon and he had to learn how to repair phones from an apprentice as well as consult some study materials.
“In this industry, you have to keep abreast with the ever changing times or risk becoming irrelevant in an ever evolving technology market,” he says.
The business has enabled Simon to buy a piece of land and build a house. This is besides educating his children and having some few investments on the side.
“I comfortably pay my bills, put food on the table and meet other expenses from this business,” he says noting that he makes between Sh3,000 to Sh3,500 daily and takes home Sh2,500 on the bad days.
He says the secret to his success has been because he handles his customers well which has seen him build a reliable customer base over the years.
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Some of the challenges Simon encounters is in dealing with impatient clients who are not willing to allow him source for vital spare parts for their gadgets. Some also believe he is overcharging them for services rendered and would rather underpay without considering the extent of repairs done.
“You sometimes end up feeling as though you are dealing with a thankless lot, who do not appreciate the value of your work,” he says.
Despite these ups and downs, Simon is glad he took that first step to venture out on his own and chase after his dream.
“You cannot devise schemes and plans and look to others to make them happen. It is up to you to make things happen. You just never know what a difference you can make or how valuable an asset you may end up being to your family and community,” he says.