How I'm giving back to society through my art, craft business

By - Jan 1st 1970
Eric Mwanda

Briefly introduce yourself.

My name is Eric Shiaranya Mwanda. I was born in Nakuru county, and currently, I live in Saika, Njiru Ward in Kasarani.

When did you discover your artistic talent?

I was in Class Six, I drew a portrait of the late President Mwai Kibaki and the result was good.

What is your greatest motivation for this job?

The fact that I am doing what I love and earning a livelihood through it. I like the fact that through this job I transform the youth from drugs and crime. I engage them and teach them so that they can sustain themselves. So far, I have trained 18 youth. I don’t charge, I only instill discipline.

How did you start this work on a professional level?

I started doing artwork after going for several interviews in different organisations, which never yielded. 

How much do you make from your artwork and is sustainable?

On a good day I can make between Sh4,000 to Sh5,000 and on a bad day, I make between Sh1,500 to Sh1,000.

Yes, the amount is sustainable at least for now. There is nothing like little money, as long as you manage the little you get and live within your means, everything will be fine.

Do you have any other business you are doing apart from this one?

I don’t have any other business, this is the only source of my livelihood.

What type of artwork do you make?

I make portraits, all sizes from A1, A2, A3 and A4. I also design mirrors using leather, as well as watches.

Eric's art on display.

What is your greatest challenge in this work so far?

My greatest challenge has been getting a reliable A2 printer. It’s quite expensive and goes for about Sh1 million.

After drawing and designing we mostly use the printer to bring out the best. Sometimes we find someone who has one but when your work becomes bulky he/she won’t print your whole work. Sometimes we delay clients' works. We have been appealing to the government or private sector to support us since what we are doing has been transforming the lives of our youngsters.

Would you encourage someone to pursue his or her passion for artwork?

I would really encourage it since it pays. If you remain aggressive in it, you won’t regret it.

How do you reach your clients?

I have been selling at my workshop in Kayole and later opened one at Moi Avenue around Smothers Hotel. Since I had a less amount I had just to display on the street, but the challenge has been county council askaris as they can really frustrate you. I also use my Facebook account Ev Johneric Mwanda to advertise and WhatsApp.

What keeps you going in this job?

What keeps me going is the fact that I am doing what I love most. It fascinates me to wake up and make money from what I love.

Your parting shot?

I would really request Kenyans of goodwill to partner with us as we not only earn money from this venture, but we also transform the community positively to the benefit of all.

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