Nancie Amunga’s courier services and errands business has not only earned her international awards, but also a chance to sit at Queen Elizabeth’s 2018 birthday. She tells Annie Awuor more about Dana Courier Services
I have a degree in media and communication from Multimedia University. I graduated in 2013 and after a number of odd jobs - everything from modelling, to selling insurance, to multi-level marketing, to working as an assistant director on the Beba Beba TV show. Nothing was permanent.
I once bought a TV online and didn’t like the delivery services - especially the lack of proper communication. Being a natural problem-solver, I saw a gap and a business idea was born.
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT
In 2014, a year after my graduation, I found myself jobless and with only Sh70, 000 to my name. That is what I used to start Dana Courier Services and Errands, which specialises in last-mile delivery services.
This is the movement of goods from a transportation hub to the final delivery destination. We also offer courier services and errands from business-to-business and business-to-consumer services and provide storage facilities.
RUNNING A STARTUP
It was tough. As my background is in Media and Communication, I had no experience in logistics. I also knew nothing about running a business. I have had to learn on the job and I must say, though it was tough, it has been exciting learning the ropes. It did not help matters that I did not have a mentor - someone who has been through business who could guide me.
I also didn’t have money. In fact, in my first year, I was swindled Sh70, 000 - all my start-up money. So, I had to get back on the grind and hustle again. My mother, bless her, gave me Sh20, 000 to help me out. She is the one who even gave me the strength to continue with business.
Also, being a young employer who is a woman has its challenges. At one point, I had an employee who refused to follow my instructions because I was both young and a woman, so he left and tried to steal my clients.
Thankfully, I have always had a great relationship with my clients and that did not work for him.
WHERE I AM NOW
We have had immense growth in Nairobi and that’s why we are soon opening a branch in Kisumu to cover the western region. We envision to cover the whole country in the next five years.
Our clientele has also grown. Originally, we dealt with clients who sell products online - mostly NGOs, governments and schools. Now, we deal mostly with corporate clients. Also, we started with one rider, now we have employed ten full-time riders and have a few part-timers on standby. I now have a mentor.
She has helped to guide me for about a year now and it has helped me grow - not just as an entrepreneur, but also on a personal level.
My business has opened up great opportunities for me on the international world platform. In October, I got the opportunity to participate in the UNCTAD Youth Forum which was running concurrently with the World Investment Forum in Geneva, Switzerland.
I spoke in different sessions and my highlight was hosting the First Lady of Botswana Ms Neo Masisi. Later, as the Coordinator for Commonwealth Alliance of Young Entrepreneurs East Africa, I got the opportunity to meet Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge and talk to him about the work I’m doing with young people. I was also invited for Queen Elizabeth’s 92nd birthday, a huge privilege.
Additionally, I have won a number of business awards. In April 2018, I was awarded Commonwealth Young Entrepreneur of the Year during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London, UK.
Then in July 2018, I was an honoree of the African Achievers Awards, social impact category, which was held at the House of Commons, Parliament building in the UK.
Lastly, I was also among the 32 women in Kenya who were successfully interviewed and selected to go through the EMPRETEC-UNCTAD Women in Business Training.
Remember that when you first get into a business, you cannot be on the same level as someone who started business five years before, so don’t try to compare yourself with others just learn from them. Business takes patience, determination, persistence and resilience.
Move with your pace and don’t forget to enjoy life. Do not be scared to hire someone who knows more about the business than you; invest in an expert in your business line, it is a good investment because you can learn a lot just from watching them. This was very helpful for me.
I learnt from watching the right people. The first years when you are starting out are difficult. In fact, entrepreneurship, in general, is not an easy ride. But as long as you have a passion for what you are doing, you will be able to manoeuvre your way around. Many times I have felt like quitting but my passion has kept me going.
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