Someone once argued that life is about transactions. Think of it like this: you give something to get something back.
Our forefathers transacted business through barter trade. Today, we transact using legal tender – money. The system requires that all of us attend school or acquire some skill.
The whole essence, ultimately, is to find a niche: a balance that allows us relative comfort in life. That is why we hold jobs.
Who has never had trouble finding a proper job? By proper, we mean white-collar and paying six figures. There are few. But the majority fall on the other side of the spectrum. We walk hundreds of kilometres after school — certificates clasped in hand. We knock on doors and get rebuffed and curse at life and the human condition.
That’s until the smart among us ‘think outside the box’. They will realise that with the right amount of determination, they can make lots of money online. Or, they will ransack through their minds, and find a long — forgotten passion, which they will convert into something they can do — even from home. Here are a few people doing exactly this:
WALTER AKOLO, 31, FREELANCE WRITER AND INTERNET MARKETER
I have been working from home since April 2011. I would describe myself as a freelance writer, a blogger, a tech-preneur and internet marketer. My online work is solely based on skills I have acquired throughout my life. I am not a graduate: I dropped out of campus because I couldn’t hack what I had been admitted to study — landscape architecture.
Going by that, ‘what I studied in campus’ is definitely not commensurate to the work I do. I dropped out of campus to become an entrepreneur.
But after school, I did look for a job. I did transcription for some startup companies, data entry for different entities (a company, an NGO, and church), sales for a textile company and administration for a car hire company.
While working for the car hire, I also did some online work part-time. I resigned when my online income stabilised and was almost outdoing my offline income. The success of it is that I doubled my income in a month.
I don’t feel the need to be employed now. Being a freelancer and businessman was one of the best decisions I ever made. Thank God that online work has enabled me to earn a living, pay my bills and sustain my family. There's great potential online and I believe by 2020 we'll have Kenyans earning seven or more figures per month from it.
It is my hope to one day own a big online enterprise similar to Netflix, Uber, Facebook, Google, Amazon, and the likes; that provide excellent solutions to everyday problems.
IRENE WANGUI, 28, FASHION DESIGNER
I am a fashion designer. I work from home for the most part and outsource some of the work to a production factory. I am involved in every aspect of the design process, from idea conceptualisation, pattern making to the final garment. I absolutely love what I do.
I have a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry. After graduation, I couldn’t find work. It was then that I decided to recalibrate my life and get a skill that was not employment dependent. I then went to fashion school for three years, and after that started working on my brand.
After my first degree, I did want to be employed. However, the minute I began studying fashion, I knew I wanted to start my own business so that, among other things, I could create opportunities for others.
Working from home has allowed me very flexible hours. I find this convenient because it allows me to do more. I also get enough time for myself and loved ones.
I intend to continue with what I love, from home, until I can’t do it anymore
LUCY ATIENO, 28, ONLINE TUTOR
I work online and from home. I am a single mother of one. Being able to work from home has incredibly given me the chance to earn a living as well as keep healthy parent-child proximity.
I work as an online tutor. That basically means that I teach (lecture) students through a virtual interphase. I teach high school and university students. My specialties are Biology, Chemistry, Psychology and business and management.
I graduated in 2012 with a Bachelor’s degree in Fisheries and Aquatic Science.
My grasp of the other subjects is based on extensive reading and research. I log onto a website with my credentials where I meet with my students.
After my graduation, I experienced a somewhat familiar thing graduates go through — applying for jobs and getting very few calls. But I eventually landed a position at a bank.
The pay was not sufficient. That is when I started delving online, looking for alternatives. I resigned when I realised I could make enough money to cater for myself.
Currently, I am a master’s student, a mother and my younger sibling is living with me. I also have a nanny.
The money I make is worth my time because I manage to pay fees and meet all my household expenses. In fact, I even started a new business with the money I have saved from my online work.
All I need to work is my laptop, steady Wi-Fi connection, and a stable power source. I don’t feel like going back to being employment.
CAROLINE MWANGI, 30, SOCIAL MEDIA CONTENT DEVELOPER AND MANAGER
I finished high school in 2004. My father, a businessman, opened a stationery shop for my sister and I. We did printing, photocopying, binding and typing.
I worked at the business till 2009 when I decided to challenge myself with a new role. I got employed at Sun Beam – selling cakes and tea. It is a job I diligently held until 2013 when I started my online work.
I work with different clients at different times. As a social media content developer, my work involves creating material that will further my clients' objectives. I know what is right for different platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and such.
Sometimes, I manage platforms for clients. I am in charge of their accounts and I make sure that they make the right posts and engage with the online community appropriately.
I mostly handle work on a contract basis. That means my income is not steady but is good enough to pay my bills.
I can work from anywhere, anytime because I interact with my clients online. To accomplish my work I need my laptop, my phone and some internet connection.