Kenya: How Sh20,000 Chama Loan Birthed a Top Tech Firm

opinion

When she bought second-hand computer at Sh16,000, little did Faith Kagendo know her journey of setting up a profitable business in Nakuru's Central Business District had started.

The 39-year-old is the founder and CEO of FaidaNet Technology, a start-up leveraging on videography, photography, branding and designing.

FaidaNet Technology also prints wedding cards, business cards, success cards, school ID cards and brands T-shirts for various occasions including weddings, burials and birthdays among others.

A computer trainee and technology lover at heart, Ms Kagendo is determined to use the business as a platform to increase the number of women in technology in Nakuru town and beyond.

"For the past 10 years, I noticed that there aren't enough women in technology business in Nakuru and I want FaidaNet Technology to be a benchmark that other female entrepreneurs can use to learn and launch their businesses," explains Ms Kagendo.

"I trained by default while working at a studio in Nakuru. I want to nurture the next generation of entrepreneurs by unlocking the female entrepreneurial potential in this male-dominated field. That is the only way I can pay back to society."

In a sector crowded with competitors, Ms Kagendo is confident in FaidaNet Technology's approach and dream.

FaidaNet Technology

"Being an entrepreneur means having vision, passion and truly understanding your markets. I didn't know I had a golden opportunity to change my life forever...... I don't want a young female entrepreneur to miss this opportunity," she explains.

Before founding FaidaNet Technology, she worked at a studio in Nakuru town where she sharpened her photography, designing and video editing skills for six years.

It was while working here in 2006, that she began thinking about starting her own company.

Her entrepreneurial journey began in 2012, leading to FaidaNet Technology's entry into the market.

"I started my company with a seed capital of Sh20,000, which I borrowed from my chama and an old computer, which I bought at Sh16,000 with my savings while I worked at the private studio," she says.

She reveals that as the business expanded, she borrowed Sh30,000 from Youth Enterprise Fund and an additional Sh50,000 from the Women Enterprise Fund to pursue her dream.

FaidaNet Technology, located at Pinkam House, has since grown and is one of the leading one-stop-shop for video shooting, photography, designing and branding in Nakuru.

Selling stationeries

She has expanded into selling stationeries and employed one worker permanently while engaging a team of five casuals.

The start-up is also marketing products and services across a wide clientele base including teachers' unions, churches, schools, hospitals, non-governmental organizations and individuals among others on social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram.

"On average, I make Sh50,000 per month and this translates to Sh600,000 annually. My target is to rise my annual gross turnover to Sh1million and nothing is impossible. I have come from far and I know I have what it takes to achieve my goals. I'm investing in modern machines and it's just a matter of time before I break even," she adds.

The prices for services and products depend on the input and level of decoration. On average, she receives two to three weddings or burial orders per week but this varies from time to time.

Power of networking

Ms Kagendo attributes her success to the power of networking and doing a good job.

"Customer satisfaction has been critical and the adage 'the customer is the king and queen of your business' is my guiding factor," she explains.

"When you're a small business owner, especially one that provides products and services such as photography and video shooting, you have to prove your competence as any blunder might mess you - the clients have the liberty to shout on social media about a job well done or a poor job, and this might cost you or give you more referrals," she offers.

Ms Kagendo is sanguine about her prospects. Her future goal for FaidaNet Technology is to build a modern studio and give her clients more value for their money in Nakuru town and beyond.

"I have an unshakable desire to use my experience, education and the technological developments and innovations to start a photo studio to motivate women and girls to take up entrepreneur technology and teach them how to incorporate technology into their businesses," she explains.

"When you are passionate, you do not give up. This country thirsts for females with passion, drive and creativity to make a difference in this male-dominated field," she says.

"One of the biggest challenges I face is that sometimes I get so many orders, which I cannot execute. My plan is to employ at least two additional people," says Ms Kagendo, adding that the multiple licenses from the county and national government are hurting young businesses.

Like any entrepreneur, the start-up experiences financial challenges, which have slowed down its growth prospects.

"The situation has been complicated by the coronavirus pandemic and this has slowed down our investment strategy," she says.

"When the pandemic struck, my clients were affected and it was just by the grace of God and my networks that I still managed to open the business."

Despite the challenges, she remains undaunted.

"Tenacity and audacity make for great things to happen!" she concludes.

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