Easter Kojwang is a 26 year old mother of one, a Hotel and Hospitality Management graduate currently pursuing an MBA. She is the owner of Eastnat Limited, which deals in the production of homemade peanut butter, natural honey, shea butter, ghee and coconut oil. She shares about her entrepreneurial journey.
The idea: After trying a hand on several businesses that failed, trying employment which left me so dissatisfied and unhappy, my young, stressed and broke self quit my job and travelled to the village to pay my grandmother a visit. Being around grandmas has this calming effect. It's therapeutic. It was groundnut harvesting season hence she sent me to the shamba to go harvest. While at the shamba, I took more selfies than harvesting, posted them on facebook and once my friends saw them they said they wanted me to bring them nuts of which I promised to deliver. I not only promised raw nuts, but also peanut butter.
What happened next: I did not know how or where I would get a machine to grind the peanut butter in bulk but luckily, my sister Lorraine came in handy. She told me where I could hire a machine and grind my products. I hired a machine that helped me start off. A week later I was back in Nairobi with 76 jars of pre-ordered peanut butter. I sold them in three days. That was a sign that my idea is viable.
Running a start-up: Money is always the biggest challenge that hinders people from starting a business, but once you decide to give it a shot you realise that money is the least of your problems; creating value is the biggest challenge. If you have a good idea in that it has a social impact hence creates value, you are good to go. Growth will follow. I would love my business to grow at a faster rate but that requires a huge capital input. I have been bootstrapping and ploughing back a large percentage in order to process the equipment needed to process efficiently. I bought my own machines last year and have been processing the products from my house. Since mine is a small business, I rely on one person to do my deliveries. If he happens to be away, deliveries become very difficult and too expensive as this forces me to hire riders. I intend to purchase my own motorbikes to make deliveries faster and more affordable. I deliver countrywide and have customers as far as Uganda. In this case, the various courier companies come in handy.
Where I am not: I am not yet a billionaire, but at least I am paying my own bills and keeping my business afloat. Business is a sacrifice whereby in the initial stages you work round the clock, always thinking of ways of getting better. I envision Eastnat being the number one producer of organic food products in Kenya. I hope to expand my business and sell a wider range of natural products with time.
My tip: Entrepreneurship is a learning process. You can never learn everything you need to be an entrepreneur before you begin. If you try that, you will forever postpone starting up. The best thing is to start now, make mistakes, learn from them and do better tomorrow. Personally, I tried four businesses before and they all failed. Each time I failed, I thought I would never try again but I guess I was wrong. Also, patience is a value that all entrepreneurs must have. If you are not patient, then train yourself to be patient. Entrepreneurship can be very trying hence without patience one can easily give in. Finally, I am passionate about entrepreneurship and it really makes me happy to see people in my age group or even younger going into business, especially manufacturing. I believe our country's economy would be better only if we made Kenyan and bought Kenyan.