2 February 2013

Kenya: I'm Happy That I Can Provide Jobs for Others After Years of Struggle

"I always dreamt of owning my own business. Being under someone's supervision has never appealed to me," says John Ndirangu, a self-employed welder in Kayole. After completing a course in welding, he could not manage to get a stable job. For five years, he would do any odd job that he could find while relying on the few connections he had made to get welding jobs.

"We all have to start from somewhere and for me it just happened to be at the very bottom," he says.

Soon, word spread around and he had an actual client list that enabled him to open his own shop. Ndirangu's typical day begins at 6am with a quick word of prayer. He then prepares himself for the day. Breakfast usually includes tea and arrow roots, which he says give him the strength he needs for the day.

He gets to his shop at 8am and immediately changes to his work clothes, cleans up the shop and puts up the displays. By this time, his employees have started arriving.

"The fact that I can provide employment for others is a blessing despite my circumstances," John says. Thereafter, he organises his workers, giving them different assignments or sending them out to different locations.

There's always a heap of scrap metal in his workshop as most of items ordered by his customers are made there and delivered later.

"Most clients insist that we do all the job here as they would not want to have their compounds littered," he says.

In addition, the machine he uses requires a large power source which might not be available within a home setting. Amidst all that, he finds time to read the newspapers in the morning just to stay up to date with current affairs.

Regardless of his workload, he always takes a lunch-break at 1pm. He has his meal in a small cafe near his shop where a meal such as githeri is cheap but good enough. The afternoon is spent finalising on clients' orders and the items which are complete are delivered.

Since he does not have a truck of his own, he is forced to look for a cart or a pick up to deliver the items. Once all deliveries are done, he spends the rest of the afternoon engaging in discussions about sport or politics with his employees.

Once he closes the shop in the evening, he meets up with a few friends for a drink at a local pub and most of the time that is where he has dinner which is usually ugali and nyama choma. When he returns home at 9pm, he works on his quotations and by 11pm he is fast asleep.

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