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Girl with a thing for sewing shoes beats Covid boredom



Driving along the Nakuru – Bahati Highway, one is attracted to a nicely constructed wooden structure at Ahero Centre, with the words ‘Fundi wa Viatu’.

Unless you have a tidy well-maintained shoe, this is a place that you cannot miss, and for the locals it is a one-stop shop for a rebirth of their damaged shoes.

However, little is known about the shoe ‘surgeon’ working on the repairs who has made a breakthrough in the industry despite her young age.

As they say, necessity is the mother of invention; 13-year-old Ann Wanjiku is making good use of her time at home to eke a living for her family with her skill.

A second born in a family of four, Wanjiku stands out among the rest and you can feel the sense of responsibility vested onto her shoulders as she strives to make ends meet.

Simon Kamau waits for his shoe to be repaired by Wanjiku.

After Covid-19 struck and schools were closed, Wanjiku a candidate at St John Primary School in Bahati says she started repairing shoes at home after overwhelming support from the family.

The journey into the male dominated field as a youngster was challenging, as many accused her parents of forcing her to child labour with a number of locals looking down on her.

With some discouraging her at first, Wanjiku said she had to focus on winning the hearts of a few customers who visited her place adding that with time her trick worked and she had the opportunity to showcase her skill.

When we visited Wanjiku at her working base, over the weekend, she had more than 20 clients for the day waiting for various repairs which she says ranges from Sh20 to Sh100 depending on the damage.

She said a vacuum in the field gave a chance to smoothly blend in among traders in the area adding that her decision to venture into the business was not because of poverty rather a chance to become occupied amid the pandemic.

Amount to charge

Wanjiku recalls she was unsure of the amount to charge her customers for the services adding that her first work she demanded for Sh10 for one shoe but the customer paid her Sh100 after being impressed with her prowess.

While some refuse to pay her, Wanjiku does her work diligently and hopes that God would reward her sweat, noting that the job has not only been an eye opener for her but also for women in the area who have never ventured into the business.

According to her support from some locals in the area gave her even more motivation to work hard as they bought her some complex tools for use which he did not have while starting and also constructed a wooden shade for her daily activity.

“At first some of my neighbours discouraged me and to test if I was able to repair, they brought in some shoes with conditions that if I can’t manage to make a good repair they will not pay, however, I managed to satisfy them.”

On a good day Wanjiku makes a profit of Sh200 after deducting her expenses, which include buying glue, weaving threads and patching materials.

She noted that her main motivator is her mother saying that despite not making a single cent in some of the days the mother is always supportive and always loves to know how the business went and any challenges she’s facing.

Wanjiku yearns to have a bigger working space to accommodate other school going children and teach them how to repair shoes and in the process keep them busy and engaged apart from learning from home.

As they say, the early bird catches the worm, her day starts at exactly 6 am, where she helps the parents in house chores, feeds the rabbits and later goes for work where she reports at 9 am. After closing work at 4 pm in the evening, Wanjiku starts her journey back home and her first assignment is to study acknowledging that being a candidate she has to put her studies first.

She said once the school re-opens she will fully focus on her studies and work only during holiday break adding that she would want to become a doctor.

“All people need a support engine and where can you get best if not from home, I will not abandon my studies just yet because I have a career dream that I want to follow. My call to all the children out there, never allow anyone to put you down,” said Wanjiku.

Commendable job

Grace Nyambura the cousin said what Wanjiku is doing is commendable adding that it keeps them busy and can prevent them from falling victims to teenage pregnancies and early marriages especially during the pandemic.

Nyambura called on school going students who have talents and skills to utilize them fully and ensure they are keeping safe from the vices and also study.

“I am a Form Two student at Gikanga Kagece Secondary School in Murang’a and what I have seen Wanjiku doing is marvelous, you cannot take away such a talent,” said Nyambura.

On his part Joseph Karanja from LSTL foundation said Wanjiku has a rare skill and came together to boost the business by equipping her with necessary tools for work pointing out that what majorly stood out was her self-discipline.

Karanja said the talent has to be natured adding that a lot of kids are using their time wrongly with some engaging in sex and drugs saying more needs to be done to ensure they are safe from the vice.

“By promoting such talents, we are also diversifying the education system and enabling the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) to be more instilled in our children at a young age,” said Karanja.

Wanjiku’s mother Zipporah Wambui called on parents to nurture talents among their children saying it is a way of allowing them to get more life skills.

She however noted that there was a need to follow up on their activities adding that being out among other people, supervision is key.

“My daughter has an admirable character and I can proudly say she has made a name for herself at a very young age and all I can do is support her fully,” said Wambui.


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This enemy called average



Do you realize there is a lot of potential in each one of us? Do you also realize that not all of us get to maximise our full potential?

The problem is because we settle on a place called AVERAGE! Join me this Friday 2nd October from 4pm, as we discuss on how we can exterminate this enemy called average.

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The Sh180,000 cat breeders



People love their pets, but how often do they think about the costs?

For years, Kenyans have been splurging cash on expensive cars, houses, fine wine and whisky, art pieces, and jewellery, but there is a new breed of young wealthy people buying expensive cats.

These cats are rare and their bloodline is documented.

“Human beings like class and social status. Because the rich do not want to remain in the same class with everybody in regards to pet ownership, they are going for Persian, Siamese, and Scottish fold cats,” says Dr Charles Muriuki of Jingi Vet clinic in Nyali, Mombasa.

Considered the ‘Ferrari of cats’, the Persian cats are highly sought-after and admired for their long and thick coats. And they do not come cheap.

“Right now you can get a Persian for about Sh50,000 but a few years ago it cost around Sh100,000, then you add the freight charge, you pay Sh150,000,” says Dr Muriuki.

Pablo and Nura are Persian cats and some of the few in Kenya whose every whim are indulged by their owner Mohamed Shurut.

At his house, during the interview, Mr Shurut says things like ‘let the furry bosses come to you instead of picking them up’, ‘never wake a sleeping kitty.’

To him, the Persian cats are feline royals.

“They are classy, loving and loyal companions. They do not like to be held so much. Give your Persian cat time as it expects you to treat it like a royal,” he says.

Every day, he spends more than an hour brushing their fur. “The fur knots very easily and it’s what makes the cat stand out. I have to groom them every day,” he says, adding that they are best kept indoors but they can be let out on a cat leash.

Many pet lovers scoff at talk about expenses to avoid being judged.

“Sometimes I fend off unwanted questions. Some people do not like pets so they ask me why I waste money on cats. I do what I feel is best for me. I love my cats,” he says.


A Persian cat owned by Mohammed Shurut. PHOTO | EAUNICE MURATHE

So how much did he spend on the cats?

Between Sh50,000 to Sh100,000 for each of his cats, minus the daily expenses of keeping them happy.

“In a month, you’re probably looking at spending between Sh8,000 to Sh10,000 depending on what kind of cat food you’re buying. I give them fish oil. You also have to factor in the veterinary bills, grooming, litter and multivitamins,” he says.

Another seller

As the exotic cat market is thriving, and supply rarely meeting demand, Mr Shurut found a niche in supplying pet owners with prized breeds.

The 26-year-old now runs an online shop, Persian Cats Kenya, a breeding business.


“I used to see social media posts of the Persian cats owned by foreigners. I had a dream of owning one but it is not easy to find them in Kenya,” he says.

After a long search, he bought a kitten from a friend whose Persian cat had given birth.

“He had imported the cats from Egypt. He opted to sell me the male kitten and remain with the parent stock. I started shopping for a female one. I imported a female cat from Egypt,” he says.

He never imagined the cat hobby he casually picked up would end up becoming a business.

“This year I noted that many people were looking for Persian cats. I had many inquiries, especially on social media. I decided to start importing and breeding the cats,” he says.

Mr Shurut sells two-month-old kittens imported from Russia and Egypt for Sh150,000.

“The common ones are the Doll Face Persian Kittens and Punch face Persian kittens. My female cat is also pregnant and I am hoping to get kittens. The price is fair. Someone who truly values them will get them at any cost,” he says.

Another cat owner Juliet Muchira from Kiambu imported a Persian cat after seeing it online.

“I have always loved cats. I owned my first cat when I was six years old. Four years ago, as I was researching more about cats, I came across the Persian breed and I was interested. I tried finding one locally but didn’t find it. That’s when I thought of importing,” she says. The Persian cat gave birth and she decided to breed them.

She has been doing the business for almost three years now. Her cattery, Juliepaws is registered under The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA), the World’s Largest Registry of Pedigreed Cats.

The cost of owning a Persian cat differs, she says, with the needs of a client. The most expensive cat she ever sold cost Sh180,000.

“I sold it to a family in Mombasa a year ago. I have never sold a cat outside Kenya, but I hope to. But I have sold so many kittens locally, Mombasa, Nairobi, and Kiambu. My cattery is the only registered cattery in Kenya,” she says.

The cats come with a registration certificate.

“My cats are all imported and I get them from certified and registered breeders who know their bloodline,” she says, adding that what makes them expensive is their distinctive face, tiny ears, gentle temperaments, and being a pure breed.

Pet love

Traditionally, dogs and cats were working animals than pets. A cat kept the mouse down, a dog guarded homes, and so on. But now, lots of people are latching onto the craze for buying and sharing their homes with pets and choosing to take care of them in ways that our parents did not.

Over the past 10 years or so, human-pet relationships have grown closer, says Dr Muriuki.

“Most people now are embracing the pet culture. They are keeping them as companions, taking care of them. We socialise with pets differently. For example, one cat was coughing and sneezing because the owner had changed her cologne to one that was not cat-friendly. At my clinic, she called her friends, told them that the cat was unwell, took videos and photos as one would do with a child,” he says.

Exotic cats are a huge amount of work and a considerable investment, fuelling an increasingly thriving cat product and service market in Kenya.

However, Dr Muriuki says, the downside of buying the exotic breeds, is that some breeders import male and female cats from the same parents, they inbreed and they start selling inbreeds.

Inbred pedigree cats end up suffering from life-threatening diseases like cancer and deformities.

by Business

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PHOTOS:What is happening in Amani Ridge the Place of Peace. *Today 29.09.2020



Optiven Group is committed to offering you the quality you expect and deserve.

Amani Ridge the Place of Peace

We greatly appreciate your continued business and support through this time of growth and change. It’s for this reason that all bookings made before 1st October 2020 will be honored with the current price and so we highly encourage you to take advantage of this.

Amani Ridge the Place of Peace

Amani Ridge the Place of Peace is giving you the opportunity to build your family in a serene and natural environment.

Do you want to know how to be part of Optiven family?
Call us now:
0790300300 or 0723400500

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