Connect with us

Business

The Sh5m-a-month deal that got away

Published

on

Spread the love by sharing this post with family and friends
  •  
  • 2
  •  
  •  
  •  

Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, they would show up at a mobile phone repair shop in town every morning without fail. They were there to learn the craft. As apprentices. And learn they did. With big dreams and slightly hazy visions, Helson Ongeso and Bolton Majale hoped they would make it in the big city. They would, however, soon go separate ways, Ongeso to the university to study linguistics while Majale slowly made his way through different service centres including Nokia and Samsung.

14 years later today, Ongeso, 36, and Majale 35, own Boltech Training Institute; a training ground for phone repair technicians, an endeavour seven years in the making. The school attracts students from all over Africa. They have still retained a phone repair wing.  They speak to HUSTLE about their ups and downs setting up roots in the informal tech market space.

Was this business idea a natural choice for you?

Majale (M): Yes. It was for me. By the time we started, I had acquired a wealth of knowledge having been trained by experts from Dubai while working with some of the big names in mobile manufacturing.

Ongeso (O): Same for me. I had also spent a significant amount of time repairing phones as a side hustle at the university. But my studies were not for nothing. University did help to expand my mind. But despite knowing that we wanted to start our own repair shop, we had no capital. And before we could dig our heels in, we felt a need to find out if it was a viable idea.

How did you do that?

O: We commissioned a research firm to find out how many phones needed repair in Nairobi and if there was a market for it. The results showed that in every household, there are at least three unused phones that could become expedient if repaired. But if we were to do this, we needed to be different.

Different how?

M: At the time mobile phone repair technicians had a poor reputation, they would always work slow or would diagnose phones with more made-up issues making clients cynical. We wanted to change that perception.

Later on, we did a deep-dive in research and found studies like the 2017 Pew Research Centre study report that showed Kenya had 80 per cent mobile phone ownership rate, and that was three years ago. We were in the right business.

How did you solve the no-capital problem?

M: We knew we wanted to start a major service centre in Nairobi. So I leveraged my relationship with Samsung, my former employer and secured a contract with them to set up a service centre that would service their clients. But they had one condition.

What condition?

M:  We had to find a shop on the ground floor. So for three years we tried our hardest to secure a good deal on a large space but the cheapest we could find required Sh1 million goodwill. We didn’t have that. Samsung was gracious to give us all the time we required but we just could not get the money. So we eventually opted out of the  deal and narrowed our ambition to start small. We collected enough money from friends and family, amounting to less than Sh100,000, we paid rent and bought only the most basic equipment. But it was a hard lesson for us.

What business lesson did you learn from this?

M:  That you need to crawl before you can run. We were young and hungry and thought as long as we had the idea we could do anything. Business is more than just passion. I would tell my younger self to be more patient and build from the ground up.

What sets your business apart from your competitors?

O: Professionalism. We teach technicians time management, quality work and customer service, which are rare to find in the informal sector.

Secondly, we have built up a good brand as technicians. Not only to clients, but also fellow phone technicians in the city who use our services too. We pride ourselves in being the only ones able to do phone refurbishing, a skill that has attracted students from Ghana, Rwanda, Congo, Uganda and even Comoros.

M: We also do not focus on profit. There is a bigger picture. When we train technicians to be professional, we are preparing for Vision 2030. At the moment Rwanda has set up a phone manufacturing plant. They have a small population compared to Kenya’s 40 million. We are the target market. We may set up a similar factory in the next 10 years so we want to be prepared.

When that time comes, service centres will be already set up and trained technicians will be there to meet the high demand.

What are your rates?

M: A three-month course on fixing broken phones costs Sh35,000. Every single technician leaving the institution does not rush to get employed. They always opt to set up their own business. For those who wish to seek employment, it is still possible. We are accredited by the National Industrial Training Authority (NITA) to offer short courses in mobile phone repair, which is recognised nationwide and our students can have certificates to present if they choose to apply foR jobs.

Speaking of money, how profitable is the phone repair business?

O: At the time we get on average 20 phones a day in need of repair. Our school is at full capacity at about 25 students a month and we are constantly growing. We recently expanded our portfolio of short courses to include business related programmes like business training, ICT and data management.

What challenges do you face?

O: The school is growing faster than we expected. Finding space to expand is difficult because paying what they call goodwill in Nairobi can go up as high as Sh10 million. So now we have spread out our workshops in different locations in Nairobi. Another issue is our workshops are mostly on the third floor meaning our customers are constantly poached by those on the ground floor. This is a fast growing space and competition is so rife, and a person may decide to set up shop literally next door to capitalise on our already established customer base.

M: As for the school, we have a shortage of manpower. We train technicians but they go out on their own and we still require technicians. We now have staff of around five, but we still struggle.

Another challenge we are working on is getting more women to be interested in mobile phone repairs. Despite research showing women make better technicians, are more trusted and are more productive than men, not many Kenyan women have taken an interest. Women’s participation in the informal tech markets of Asian countries is marginally higher than those in Kenya. We get at most two women every month looking to learn the craft. So currently Boltech is offering scholarships to women to encourage them to join.

Have you had to change operations due to the pandemic?
O: We introduced online classes where we teach the software skills and do demonstrations for the practical lessons virtually. Once a week we invite small groups of students to come in for a one-on-one session to track their progress. Shifting to virtual learning we have unlocked new opportunities, like we can now reach people from counties as far as Narok. We even have a student right now from Ghana. The students usually works on phones they source from neighbours and friends. This helps us to give them a practical lesson in pricing their skills.

M: Surprisingly, the pandemic has been a blessing in disguise. No one in a sector that requires hands-on skills has been extremely affected by the virus, not economically anyway.

Since most people are working remotely, our devices have become more of a basic need than a luxury. We have more people now wanting to have their phones repaired than previously. As a result, we have even expanded our services to include laptop repair as demand peaked.

Are you worried that with phones becoming cheaper, people will have no need to repair but instead replace broken phones?

M: 10 years ago when the smartphone boom happened in Kenya, everyone thought the phone repair business was dead. But here we are in 2020 and the business is thriving. As the telecom industry grows, so do its associated businesses.

by Standardmedia.co.ke


Spread the love by sharing this post with family and friends
  •  
  • 2
  •  
  •  
  •  
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Business

LET’S HOLD HANDS WITH OPTIVEN FOUNDATION

Published

on

Spread the love by sharing this post with family and friends
  •  
  • 2
  •  
  •  
  •  

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

For more info, call us on +254 718 77 60 33 or info@optivenfoundation.org
www.optivenfoundation.org
#TransformingLives
#RestoringDignityof Senior citizens
#SharingHopewithOptiven


Spread the love by sharing this post with family and friends
  •  
  • 2
  •  
  •  
  •  
Continue Reading

Business

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

Published

on

Spread the love by sharing this post with family and friends
  •  
  • 1
  •  
  •  
  •  

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.


Spread the love by sharing this post with family and friends
  •  
  • 1
  •  
  •  
  •  
Continue Reading

Business

GoGreenNaOptiven KAMATA 20K PAP!

Published

on

Spread the love by sharing this post with family and friends
  •  
  • 2
  •  
  •  
  •  

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.

But as the year ends, we would love to give you, your family and your loved ones a big smile, especially on these last days of the year with our special December offer, #GoGreenNaOptiven

With a deposit of 500k plus, you can take advantage of this incredible offer this holiday season!

With ready titles, value additions, and ready to build Environment, you can actualize your dream of property ownership.

Call us TODAY on 0723 400 500 or visit our website on www.optiven.co.ke

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


Spread the love by sharing this post with family and friends
  •  
  • 2
  •  
  •  
  •  
Continue Reading

Special Offer: Own one starting at Ksh 3.7M


poapay3

Like us on Facebook, stay informed

NEWS TRENDING RIGHT NOW

2020 Calendar

November 2020
M T W T F S S
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30  
satellite-communication1.jpg

Trending