Men’s condom ‘phobia’ pushed her to business
HEALTH & SCIENCEBy PIRMISOI | Mon,Mar 10 2014 00:00:00 EATBy PIRMISOI | Mon,Mar 10 2014 00:00:00 EAT
By DANIEL PSIRMOI
NAIROBI, KENYA: Many Kenyan men shudder at the thought of buying a packet of condoms in public.
Many would prefer buying it somewhere where they are not known or away from the eyes of others. Light moments have been made of men who would ask for everything in a shop except condoms because there are other shoppers. They patiently wait for others to leave before whispering to the shopkeeper and asking him to make it quick before others come.
This fear of being seen buying condoms is what pushed Faith Ndiwa into a business that can be viewed by many as unconventional; that of discretely supplying condoms to whoever is in need.
The 28-year-old medical graduate of the University of Nairobi is the Chief Executive Officer 0f Labonte Limited, whose ‘Dial a Condom’ service, a revolutionary concept is taking the local market by storm.
Her company has provided a hot-line number which anybody who needs male condoms within Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa can call and have them delivered wherever they are in the towns.
“With sex being a taboo subject and everything related to it being shrouded in mystery in our African societies, many people feel embarrassed being seen buying condoms. Some people also fear purchasing them because of their status in the society. This should no longer be a problem as the condoms are now a phone call away,” says Ms Ndiwa, when we begin this interview.
The entrepreneur who started her business in September last year approached a condom manufacturing company in Thailand with her own design and specifications, which are different from other brands in the market.
“Our premium pack of Euphoria brand of condoms costs Sh200 and we charge a delivery fee of only Sh100 to whichever destination in Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa,” she says and adds quickly;
“They are unique because they are dotted and contoured unlike the available brands in the region, giving the users extra pleasure. The trendy dark little box that they are packed in disguises the condoms and many would at a cursory glance not know what is contained in the pack,” she says.
Her major clientele include a number of big shots in the society like politicians, directors of both public and non-governmental organisations and, surprisingly, members of the clergy.
“Client confidentiality is key in this business and I have given strict instructions to my 20 employees not to divulge the identities of those they serve. We have motorcycles and a car which we use for delivery. My staff members sometimes walk on foot to deliver the condoms if the callers are near the Central Business Districts of the three cities,” she shares, and notes that delivery within the Central Business district takes less than 15 minutes.
Though she does not oblige to divulge how much the venture she started five months ago with a capital of only Sh100,000 is worth now, her tastefully furnished head office at Uniafric House along Koinange Street, where we carry out this interview and the cheerful staff who welcome this writer is enough testament that business is good.