Latest posts by Margaret Macharia (see all)
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Friday the 6th October, 2017 morning got us all with the sad news that a section of Gikomba Market was on fire and that was quite tragic. As I write this, I sympathize with all the families affected by the fire. I am very well aware that the incident has displaced many traders from one of the biggest open air markets in the region, and this is bad news for the nation. If you have not been affected directly, then I believe in one way or another, especially if you are a “mitumba lover,” then I’m sure this has affected you indirectly.
One Mr. Joseph Muroki a resident of Kiambaa, in Kiambu County, was one of the many people affected by Friday’s incident. Mr. Muroki says he knew nothing about the incident until around 5:00 am Friday morning when a fellow stall owner at Gikomba market woke him up to the bad news. Mr. Muroki said he thought he was dreaming and hoped he would sooner or later wake up from the bad dream. He even had the audacity to check his calendar to make sure it was not fool’s day.
He took the liberty to call a couple of his other friends with whom they do business, to just be sure. It was then that it dawned on him that his Ksh. 50,000 investment was now past tense. He just could not come to terms with this. And to make it worse, at the time he was in Loitoktok, meaning he had no option but to rely on others to give him the developing story.
Mr. Muroki ventured into the mitumba business two years ago in May, 2015. This was after a series of job hunting that got him no help, but kept frustrating him the more. He tried working in a carwash after clearing his KCSE, where he got a B+ but had no means to further his education. When the carwash business gave him poor returns, a friend suggested to him to try the mitumba business.
Since Mr. Muroki had no money to buy a bale of clothes, he started off by selling water in the congested Gikomba Market. He would walk the whole day hawking water under the scorching sun, selling to the buyers and sellers until he made enough money to buy his first set of women tops. He bought his first set at Ksh. 700, where a single top cost him around Ksh. 30-70 and he would sell one at Ksh. 200.
When the 26-year old, saw that this business was actually profitable, he took his time and considered venturing full time into this mitumba business. He now began selling dresses as well. Being a good marketer, he would iron out the best clothes during the night, which he had bought at around Ksh. 200-500 and would sell the same at Ksh. 1000-1500. He would hawk in big offices like those in Westlands where he had made customers out of his good communication skills.
On a good day he would make a profit of Ksh. 10,000-15,000 and on a very bad maybe Ksh. 3,000. He weighed options and saw this was an absolutely amazing idea. That was when an opportunity to sell clothes in Loitoktok came and he grabbed it wholeheartedly.
Before the fire, this 26 year-old had already made a name in the industry. He owned a stall already and had just brought bale worth Ksh.50, 000, ready to ship to Loitoktok on Tuesday next week. And now the fire was here- and it affected him largely because, he lost everything in his stall. Everything was burnt to ashes and even the few that remained were rampaged by the on-lookers who came in the name of consoling the business men. These people took away with the only remaining bales of the Gikomba businessmen and women.
He is now short of Ksh. 70,000, if he counts the cost of every bit of the fire. Mr. Muroki is now a very devastated man, because his hard-earned money has now gone to waste. He now seeks the government to come through for them and reveal the cause of the fire.
Mr. Muroki says amidst sadness, “I do not know how we business men will recover after this incident, but I do know that this has affected us a great deal. I hope justice is served if it is revealed the fire was started by some malicious people.”
He says that most of the workers in Gikomba Market, including him were fed and paid their bills by the Mitumba Business, and now that everything is in shambles, they do not know how to get up on their feet. He however thanks God because their lives were spared.
Mr. Muroki encourages everyone who wants to venture into this type of business and says it is a profitable venture. He says there is no business idea that is too big or too small.
“The small milestones we make every day eventually become our greatest stepping stones. Start small and watch yourself rise to greatness.”
And now my dear readers, I believe amidst the fire obstacle, we will rise up to make Kenya great again by creating employment because we have all it takes. It is all within us. We just have to tap into the potential. See you all up the ladder.