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From hawking eggs to boutique owner

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Sarah Nyawa, 28, had an unlikely motivation to become an entrepreneur. She wanted to change the belief that Mijikenda women can’t succeed in running business and to break the norm that saw many Giriama girls pressured into marriage right after school without any support to achieve their dreams.

“I want to be a good example to my fellow Mijikenda girls that we can also do

business like everyone else. You can achieve great things before getting married,” she says.

She is now the owner of a boutique in Mwembe Tayari, Mombasa and a renowned supplier of mtumba [second-hand items) bales in the area, business ventures which she started off as a boiled eggs hawker.

Born in Kilimagondo Village in Kwale county, Sarah comes from humble family background. Her parents had difficulties in giving all their children the best education. Luckily, she earned a scholarship right after primary school under Verkart Scholarship, which sponsored her education from Form One to Four at Franz Josef secondary school. In 2013, she joined Mombasa Technical Training institute for a certificate course in social work, and attained a diploma in 2016, both of which were funded through bursaries and contribution from parents.

Sarah Nyawa years ago when she used to hawk clothes.

Hawking eggs

Immediately after college, she started hawking boiled eggs to sustain herself and also support her family.

“My dad passed away in the middle of my diploma level and my mum had nothing at all, therefore, I had to depend on myself. I had only Sh2,000 as a starting capital for my business in September 2016. I hawked boiled eggs, and in the process, asked customers if they would like other services such as cleaning houses and laundry. I would also include cooking, since I am a very good cook and made Pilau, Mahamriand chapatis on weekend in people’s houses. At the same time, I was making liquid soap and disinfectant, which I would sell to the same customers. These really boosted my income,” shares Sarah.

From the money she saved, she bought a gel machine to start manicure and pedicure services, which she offered in offices and homes in and out of town. She was inspired by a friend who had donned nail polish and told her it was the trendy thing for classy women.

“I saw this as an opportunity and went to YouTube to learn how it is done. Once I was sure I could do it, I bought myself a gel machine and all the other products, which cost me Sh6,000. I would charge Sh500 for gel polish. On good months, I would make up to Sh20,000, with the lowest at Sh7,000,” she says.

Every hustle, Sarah adds, has been a gateway for a better level of growth. While the gel polish business had been good to her, she wanted to do something else. She decided to buy mitumba bales with her savings and sell the items in them. “I bought a women’s Tshirts bale at Sh13,000, and I sold them at between Sh100-250, going down to Sh50 when clearing the stock. I also started business page, Nyosti Collections, to boost my online sales,” she says.

Sarah in her botique.

Mentorship project

Every day she would move door to door with her big bag looking for clients. In a few months the business was doing really well until she decided to go to air markets in Kilifi from Monday to Saturday.

“Though it wasn’t easy, I had no option but to hustle by all means. I was also

working tirelessly without worrying about what other people would think, or how hot the sun was and it gave back in kindness,” adds the young business women.

In 2018, Sarah decided to buy a few bales and keep them in her room, she took a few photos and advertised them on Facebook just to test the waters and luckily enough she got a client who bought all of them. She went back to her supplier and bought other bales, and repeated the process. She started getting more clients.

“I had no shop. I used to keep my bales in my room. In 2020, I opened a shop in town where I sell new clothes. It’s where my clients come to pick up their bales too,” she says.

Sarah also mentors her new clients, teaching them all they need to know in the business and how to increase their sales.

“I am doing this because I don’t want to see them giving up on business. As their supplier, I try my best to walk with them in their business journey until they stabilise. Then I let them do their own thing while I follow up from a distance,” she explains. Even with all these, Sarah also engages in community work, which involves visiting orphanages and vulnerable families every Sunday and donating food supplies and other needs.

Her advice to the youth, and especially graduates, is that they should not depend solely on while collar jobs. They are not the only way for dreams to come true. They can look for alternatives such as businesses.

“The real life is different. No one really cares about what university or college you went to. Outside those university gates lies the real hustle and you have to be able to pay your bills,” she concludes.

AT A GLANCE
• Sarah Nyawa started with small businesses to get where she is today.

• She hawked eggs, applied nail polish on clients, cooked and cleaned for clients.

• She now mentors her customers on business.

By PD

 

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