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Former hotelier stitches her way out of job loss

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After running a restaurant in Thika town for 12 years, Jane Mary Musyoka did not think about the possibility of venturing into any other field. Until events of the 2017 general elections forced her to re-evaluate her plans.

Jane trained as an hotelier at the Kenya Polytechnic College (now

Technical University of Kenya) in 1978, before she decided to start her own restaurant in 2006. The mother of three—two daughters and a son —opted to set up a restaurant to offer employment opportunities and make profits. Jane, who has also adopted two of her brother’s children, was happy to oversee operations in her Thika-based enterprise until the wave of elections shattered her job.

In all the years she operated the Sahara Restaurant, Jane reckons that she had never encountered harsh economic times as those experienced in 2017. The year was marred with significant economic slumps that hit hard many businesses leading to some being closed and others auctioned.

It was characterised with low circulation of money triggering poor consumption of products. In that season of tumultuous financial times, Jane was forced to close down her business since she was making losses.

“This was a shocker to me. Waking up only to realise I will not run a hotel I had manned for more than 12 years was devastating. I have never experienced a bad year in business like I did in 2017,” she says. She spent few months in her home in Githingiri estate in Thika trying to figure out her next move.

Old hobby

The hotelier decided to venture into weaving carpets and stitching wall hangings. She had acquired stitching skills from her grandmother Sarah Mutunga. Her interest in stitching developed when she was a young girl.

The 52-year-old remembers stitching table clothes using thorns when she was young. She had continued weaving an stitching carpets and floor mats as a hobby even when she was running the hotel. In addition to stitching floor rags, Jane started making dolls in May 2017 and gifting them to friends and family.

But since her flow of income had been cut off after closing down the hotel, she decided to commercialise her products in August 2019. She also sews bed sheets, scarfs, cartoon artworks and wall paintings. She has also been making environmentally friendly baskets to fill the gap left after the government banned plastic bags in 2017.

“The government banned use of plastic bags, but provided no alternative. I have ventured into making eco-friendly and durable

baskets to give people an alternative,” she says.

The art lover makes use of her free time to stitch the products, mostly used for home decor. She says she can sew from morning to evening without getting tired. Engaging in art is therapeutic and has been effective in helping her cope with the shock of closing her restaurant.

Jane notes that sewing patterns constantly keeps evolving, making it difficult to catch up. But she has been able to keep up with the changes by using the resources available on the Internet.

Although she has not made efforts to market her work, Jane who is also a baker has begun receiving orders. Currently, she makes most of her sales through referrals. Her products cost between Sh100 and Sh3,500.

She says that she has secured a stall in Thika town where she hopes to train willing and interested youths as she displays her artwork. In the next five years, Jane hopes to set up a factory in her native county Kitui, where she intends to further train women to venture in the lucrative business.

Giving back “I wish to help women from my home county. I intend to engage a self-help group of about 20 women to join me in this field as a way of giving back to the community,” she adds. She points out that her main objective is not to make profits, but to empower others to tame idleness and make a living.

Her family has been her biggest support system and helped her pick the pieces after losing her business.

The businesswoman advises young people to utilise their skills to impact lives and strive to make a living from their interests instead of sorely relying on formal employment.

“You don’t need a degree to start doing what I do daily. All you need is passion, commitment and a few skills and you will be good to go. There are a lot of engagements the young people can do to transform and better their future instead of decrying joblessness,” says Jane.

However, she urges the government to facilitate purchase of locally manufactured materials. “If we encourage Kenyans to purchase what is locally manufactured, we would have helped in jobs creation while improving our innovation capacities. It is time to stop imports of what

can be made and consumed locally,” she notes. JANE’S FACT BOX

• Mary trained as an hotelier at the Kenya Polytechnic College in 1978, before starting her own restaurant in 2006.

• The 52-year-old makes dolls, floor rags, carpets, sheets and wall hangings.

• Her products cost between Sh100 and Sh3,500.
• She is a mother of three and has adopted two of her brother’s children.

• In the next five years, Mary plans to open a factory in her native Kitui county where she can train women to make artwork.

By People Daily


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LET’S HOLD HANDS WITH OPTIVEN FOUNDATION

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By helping someone achieve their dream,
You are well on your way to achieving your own dream!

Together with partners like you, the Optiven Foundation is changing one life at a time, by reaching the most vulnerable and meeting their needs. Because the needs are growing daily, we are open to hold hands with you and make our world a better place. Make your donation to Optiven Foundation via Paybill 898 630, Account name: Mobility

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www.optivenfoundation.org
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#SharingHopewithOptiven


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By going the solar route, I save Sh140,000 per month, says restaurateur

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Kenya Power was in the news recently complaining that their clients are increasingly transitioning to use of solar energy.

Solar has emerged as a favourite source of power to many homeowners due to its reliability and low cost compared to electricity.

But that is not limited to homes as businesses are also embracing solar energy.

One such business is the new Café Deli branch along Koinange Street.

When the restaurant relocated from Kenyatta Avenue in September, Mr Obado Obadoh, the Managing Director and founder of Nanjala Ltd –the parent company that owns the chain of restaurants — says he wanted to have glass roofing at his new establishment.

This, however, came with its challenges and the option turned out to be expensive since, apart from the glass roofing, they would need ultraviolet (UV) light protectors.

For humans, suntan and sunburn are familiar effects of exposure of the skin to UV light, along with an increased risk of skin cancer.

Solar panels are installed at New Cafe Deli along Koinange Street in Nairobi in this file photo.

Amina Wako | Nation Media Group

But, after consultations with experts, Mr Obado settled for solar panels.

“When we were designing the Koinange Street branch, we had experts come in and give their opinions. With the Covid-19 situation, we were also looking for ways to cut costs. With solar, we spent less money than all the other available options,” Mr Obado told the Nation.

“When the costing was done by the quantity surveyor, it came down to almost half of what we would have spent on putting up the glass roof.”

Savings important

 

To Mr Obado, saving even a shilling means a lot and so solar was the welcome option.

“At the Kenyatta Avenue (branch), the cost of electricity per month was between Sh250,000 and Sh280,000. Based on the plan we have, we will use Kenya Power as a backup. This means we will save close to Sh140,000 which is half of what we used to pay before,” he said.

 Mr Omondi Lumbe, the electrical contractor who was in charge of the project, says he installed 96 panels on the roof that coves 250 square meters.

“The panels produce close to 33 kilowatts per hour and are in use for eight hours a day, hence produce close to 264 kilowatts daily,” said Mr Lumbe, who is a partner at Kev & Lum Construction and Electrical Company Ltd.

Solar panels are installed at New Cafe Deli along Koinange Street in Nairobi in this file photo.

Amina Wako | Nation Media Group

To avoid more spending, they opted to use solar power directly instead of using batteries to store more energy.

Today, Café Deli only relies on Kenya Power services for between three and four hours, which is mostly at night when the solar panels are off.

“We are only using Kenya Power at night for three to four hours. That means solar power will be used for most of our 12 hours,” Mr Obado said.

He also has plans to install the solar panels at his other branches on Moi Avenue and Nkurumah Lane, Behind Kencom in Nairobi’s Central Business District.

Business effects

 

This is, however, not the first time the businessman is opting to go the solar power route.

Six years ago, when he wanted to install electricity at his rural home in Busia, he says he was slapped with a quotation of Sh800,000.

“I thought about it and wondered why I would pay such a high figure, buy a transformer which is going to be Kenya Power’s property, and still pay them every month. I settled for solar panels and it’s a decision I don’t regret,” he said.

According to Mr Obado, the high cost of power in Kenya has rendered businesses uncompetitive compared to other countries in East Africa.

The new Cafe Deli along Koinange Street in Nairobi, which uses solar energy.

Amina Wako | Nation Media Group

Café Deli has joined several companies, universities and factories that have turned to solar power  and, in the process, cut operational costs.

This, according to Kenya Power, has dealt a blow to their already dwindling finances.

“The company operated in a challenging environment over the financial year under review, where demand growth at 3.7 per cent remained below the projected level of five per cent. The dampened demand growth is further compounded by increased threats of grid defection by the industrial category as decentralised renewable energy options are becoming more available and cheaper,” Kenya Power revealed in its latest annual report.


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GoGreenNaOptiven KAMATA 20K PAP!

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The year 2020 has stretched us in many ways! It has thrown to us numerous twists and turns, while offering us a number of highs and many lows.

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As Optiven, We wish you and your family a merry Christmas and prosperous New Year ahead🎄


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Special Offer: Own one starting at Ksh 3.7M


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