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I rent shelf space to entrepreneurs

Money - By Annie Awuor
Ann Wangaru Waithera. She rents out shelves/space for entrepreneurs within the CBD (Instagram)

Ann Wangaru Waithera shares on providing solutions to entrepreneurs who cannot afford to rent their own premises.

My background

I am certified professional accountant who studied Bachelor of Commerce and specialised in Sales and Marketing.

I have always loved business so even as I practiced I always had my clothes selling business on the side. In 2014 while working at Chloride Exide I resigned to pursue business full-time.

The idea

On social media, I constantly came across buyers complaining about the horrible experiences they had with online shopping. Complaints ranged from getting conned, to products failing to meet their expectations when they were delivered.

Also, I would hear friends who did not have businesses within the CBD talk about the struggles they were facing in finding convenient drop off places for their clients in town.

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In finding the solution to all the aforementioned challenges, my business idea was born. This was in November last year.

What happened next

It took me about two months before I set up Link Stores Kenya both on Facebook and on Instagram. I now rent out shelves/ space for entrepreneurs within the CBD. We have a shop attendant who looks after the stock and provides daily stock remittance.

Therefore, you could say that I provide a space where clients who shop for products online have the opportunity to first see and even try the products before buying.

As for entrepreneurs we provide for them a nicely decorated and convenient location where they can store their products, and even hire a store manager who looks after the stock and can interact with their clients.

Apart from that, I also partner with dedicated riders for delivery services within and outside Nairobi. And where requested, we connect our clients with social media marketing consultants who help clients open up their social media accounts and guide them on how to have a thriving social media presence.

Our clients originally included entrepreneurs who had online shops; entrepreneurs who were full time employees and have a side business and are not able to interact with clients while at work; and entrepreneurs who have shops outside the CBD.

However, after the Covid-19 lockdown, some businesses were forced to close shop. We now have clients who although are unable to pay rent for a whole shop can afford to rent a shelf where they can sell their products until they get back to their feet once again.

Ann says that her business is still a new concept it has not been easy convincing new clients to trust (Shutterstock)

Running a start-up

What I am doing is still a new concept. It has not been easy convincing new clients to trust you. It has been a challenge convincing online entrepreneurs that a shared space is the best option for them as it helps to inspire buyer confidence because they are able to attach a physical location to an online shop, and it also allows customers to see the product physically before they pay for it.

Where I am now

I am at a place where I am able to pay my bills but I have not yet broken even. I am hoping to increase my clientele. I am very hopeful about the future of my business because how people are doing business now is very different especially because of the Internet.

I really love what I am doing because I believe that God will use my business to help entrepreneurs who are starting out and cannot afford to rent a whole shop or even employees who are full time and still want to run a business from the comfort of employment.

My tips

Believe in what you are doing, you cannot convince others to believe in your dream if you do not believe it.

Secondly, my advice to any entrepreneurs who are starting out, please do not put all your capital into renting out a business space, it will seriously eat into your profits. I really wish someone had advised me on this very early on.

The cost of renting a space is demanding, before you hire a lawyer, pay goodwill, and three months’ rent, you can find yourself with nothing left.

Goodwill can range anything from Sh300,000 to even Sh3 million depending on the location of the shop. These are not redeemable costs.

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