Last Saturday (8th February 2020), I was thrilled and
privileged to attend the Text Book Centre book club at their flagship shop in
Sarit centre. I was thrilled because I am not only a lover of books but also a
creative writer. I was privileged because I got a chance to meet and hear from
Dr. Narendra Raval, the owner of Devki group of companies.
After the end of the first session, where book lovers and
writers discussed the book of the month, Kailash Mota, the author who penned
Dr. Narendra Raval's autobiography, ushered in the second session by sharing
with the audience his experience while writing about Dr. Narendra Raval, also
known as Guru.
After that, he welcomed Guru to address the audience and
answer questions. Guru's speech was very insightful as well as motivational. He
briefed the audience about his journey as an entrepreneur, how he started his
own business in Gikomba, and how he got into manufacturing. Also, the
challenges he went through and how he overcame them to end up owning a group of
companies. He is the owner of Devki Steel factories, Maisha Mabati, Simba
Cement, and Athi River Mining (recently acquired). Also, he opened a new Sh5.8
Billion Simba cement factory in Nakuru and has a clinker factory coming up in
Emali, Kajiado County.
He offered numerous tips on how one can start from scratch
and make it to the top. Here are a few lessons Youths and budding entrepreneurs
can learn from Guru's success story.
1. Save for start-up Capital
One of the major challenges budding entrepreneurs face is a
lack of start-up capital. Guru, while working in the temple as a priest earning
a paltry Kshs 1,500 in a month, saved some cash with which he used to start his
own business in Gikomba in 1986. It was not even enough, and he had to borrow
more from his wife. He advised budding entrepreneurs to develop a habit of
2. Take risks
After he made his first profit, Guru narrated, he ploughed
it all back into the business. That way, he was able to expand his business.
Taking risks, he said, is what differentiates an entrepreneur from a wanna-be
entrepreneur. The latter is afraid of taking risks.
3. Give your employees financial as well as moral support
When Guru started Devki Steel company in 1994, he had only
70 employees. Now he boasts of employing more than 6,000 workers. The secret of
retaining employees, he advised, is to give not only financial support but also
4. How you start does not matter. What matters most is how
With hard work and determination, one can achieve whatever
one desires. Guru narrated that he was born in poverty, but he had a dream of
getting rich and pulling himself out of poverty. He said he worked hard to
achieve his dream. That he used to work from Monday to Sunday and even during
public holidays. He told the audience that "To be born poor is not
someone's mistake, but to die poor is." He said young people should not
despise humble beginnings.
5. Supporting the community
Guru donates 50% of his earnings to charity. He supports
schools, orphanages, Widows, etc. He donated Sh100 Million to Kenyatta National
hospital to help construct a cancer centre. In 2013, he won a British award for
supporting widows. He said an entrepreneur should not focus on making profits
alone. He or she should also develop and support the community in which he
6. Read widely
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Though he is not so much of a reader himself, he said
reading widely expands one's knowledge, thus elevating one to a higher level of
reasoning. For an entrepreneur, reading and doing research helps in making
informed decisions. He disclosed that for him, "Reading is like