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Unemployment was a big blessing in disguise

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Bradox Osumo, 27, graduated from Kenyatta University with a degree in Biochemistry four years ago. He would then spend the next two years sending endless job applications in vain.

His story is reminiscent of many a youth’s experience in Kenya; a country where 80 per cent of the unemployed are below age 35.

Frustrated, Osumo gave up the fruitless search and decided to get into fish business. Today, he owns two successful establishments, aptly named The Big Fish, in Nairobi’s Garden Estate.

When the Hustle team visited on a weekend, the place was bustling with activity even with the set social distancing rules in place.

Osumo shares the ups and downs of setting up a business in a crowded industry and what he has had to do to survive the pandemic.

What is the ultimate lesson that your job search and business journey has taught you? Regardless of your education, you have to get down to work without necessarily being too choosy. I was unemployed and penniless and had to try something out, in spite of my education. My sister (who is a Master’s degree holder) also works here. We started this business with her. At the end of the day, you have to work to make a living. So, one should not be hesitant to start something.

One should start from what they have. I would also like to tell them to use the internet well. If one has a business venture, promote it on social media as much as you possibly can. Abstain from posting negative things that may kill your brand in the future.

Avoid posting unnecessary things. Also, post consistently. Consistency in advertising makes people associate with one’s business. They should also consider getting into the food business because in this one, you are always assured of making sales no matter the period.

Dry fry fish with ugali at the Big Fish restaurant in Garden estate, Nairobi on August 3, 2020. [Elvis Ogina,Standard]

 But why fish?

Why not fish (laughs)? Anyway, my sister, a trained teacher, used to sell fish as a side hustle, often during vacations. It was a small-scale business which she conducted by the roadside.

After a two-year stint of unsuccessful job hunting, I suggested to her that we could expand the fish business. She agreed. And thus Big Fish began.

The plan was to start an outlet, like a hotel, from where we would serve a larger base of customers. We started with a small place in Garden Estate, next to where we are now.

How much did you invest at the start?

Around Sh100,000. Most of the money actually went into buying furniture, utensils and paying rent. I paid a deposit of Sh20,000 and a two-month advance rent.

I also acquired a freezer from the landlord, paying in instalments. We made individual contributions and collected the rest of the money from our family.

How did you attract customers initially?

I served the locals, especially people working at the garage around my first hotel, and often got more customers courtesy of referrals from satisfied customers. I used to sell The Nile perch, which did not fetch very good returns.

I later introduced tilapia, which, unlike Nile perch which was sold in small pieces, fetched way more money. A full course of Nile perch cost Sh120, but then tilapia goes for Sh200, Sh300, Sh400 and even Sh600 a piece.  Where do you get your fish from?

I am from Muhuru Bay in Migori. I get my fish from the same place in Lake Victoria. We are many fish sellers in the city and share the cost of transportation.

The truck that ferries them to the city stops at the pick-up point, which is Gikomba. The fish is usually fresh as it is usually stored in ideal, well refrigerated containers within the truck. 

What makes your fish attractive to customers?

We always serve our fish fresh and prepare meals on orders. It takes such a short while for fish to have a stale taste and smell. As such, we only cook when customers order and it thus means customers have to wait for a while before their order is placed on their table. We also do not add spices to the fish. We want customers to have the authentic smell and taste of fish and not of the spices.

 When was your big break?

In December 2019. I posted my business on twitter, and it went viral. There were many retweets that followed. I came from 300 followers to, currently, more than 15,000.

As it stands, I now serve more online customers than locals. Actually due to demand, I had to open this second branch in June this year. Sometimes over the weekends, which are the busiest of days, this place, which has a capacity of over 80, gets so full that some people have to stand outside waiting. We serve over 200 people on such days.

 How many people do you employ?

I have eight employees, that is three chefs and five waiters. Add my two sisters (who are actively involved in the business) and myself, which puts the number at 11.

How is business during the pandemic?

Fortunes have tanked. We are operating at around 50 per cent capacity. Most of the people we are serving now are those asking for deliveries, especially in offices. But I cannot complain. We are able to pay for the overheads and take something home.

Would you ditch this for formal employment?

No way. This venture employs people who I would leave exposed if I left. Further, this venture gives me satisfaction. It is what I want to build.

What is the biggest challenge you have had in this business?

Handling fish requires a lot of care. To keep the fish fresh at all times is a challenge. Customers sometimes complain when it takes time to place their order on the table, but as I said, we prepare fish on order to ensure we serve only the freshest. So we take time not to compromise on the quality we offer.

What is the greatest lesson you have learnt?

When you start this business, the aim should not be to fetch profits. It should be to serve the customers to their satisfaction and offer the best. A satisfied customer will be loyal to your brand and will always refer other people to your business. Quality should be offered consistently without ever compromising on it. Time and dedication ultimately bring profits.

About financial responsibility?

You have to save in the business account as much as possible. When a business makes a profit of Sh20,000, you should save at least Sh15,000 for the business. Anything could happen any day and the business could need an urgent infusion of cash, which, without proper savings, are impossible to get.  

What is your ultimate dream?

To expand and become a household name, a brand, like Mama Oliech and Ranalo. I want to serve a lot of people and to get to a point where when people mention fish, they mention The Big Fish.

Parting shot?

Breakthroughs only come once you have started something.

by Standard.co.ke

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Business

This enemy called average

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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 https://www.facebook.com/georgeoptiven 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

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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.

PERSIAN1509C

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 Daily.co.ke

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Business

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

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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
Website: www.optiven.co.ke

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