Grocery Seller Turns Business Idea Into Multi-Million Venture

Kenyans purchase food commodities at Fig Tree market in Ngara, Nairobi in 2019
Kenyans purchase food commodities at Fig Tree market in Ngara, Nairobi in 2019
Asian Mall US

The weather had quickly changed, from a bright sunny day to a rainy day. I missed the sun which brings a frisson of joy to my skin, plants a smile all day on my face as I run around the busy Nairobi making my ends meet.

I drove through the traffic pondering how I would handle my proposal at the agriculture commercial firm at the CBD. I could hear the rain thumping on the bonnet and the wind whistling along the curves of the car.

I raised the volume of the radio and listened to the soul music bless my soul. Driving in the rain is also a soul massage; The music made it sweeter with the sound of each water-car connection.

My name’s Candice, a 26-year-old graduate who ventured into sales and supplies immediately after campus. My father blessed me with a small capital, coupled with a few loans here and there and my dedication to seeing my business thrive. I supply groceries at wholesale prices and have always looked at expanding.

I did not actually study any course associated with agriculture. I did Biochemistry. But in a world with limited jobs and a high rate of unemployment, my father advised me to follow in his footsteps and sustain myself - independently.

“One of the huge mistakes people make is that they try to force an interest on themselves. You don’t choose your passions; your passions choose you.”- my father always and will always quote Jeff Bezos.

In campus, I used to invest a huge chunk of my HELB loan into business ideas. As my girls' squad went on road trips to drink and merry-make, taking selfies for Instagram likes and bragging of how the endeavours were when they returned, I was busy selling clothes, perfumes and jewellery online.

Don’t mistake me. I used to party, but it wasn’t my thing. I’d escort them to parties where I would explore ideas for sale. That’s how I ventured into my first wines and spirit business at a premise near school, but the business dwindled and finally collapsed when I lacked capital.

File image of groceries stored at a supermarket
File image of groceries stored at a supermarket

I looked at myself in the sun visor and smiled as I drove into the parking lot of the commercial firm - It will be a good day. With my phone, my proposals, laptop and my business card in my right hand - Green Lantern Ltd, I walked straight into the lift as I sang Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” tune in my mind.

As a confident woman, I am astute, clear-sighted and quick-witted. I always recognise there are gaps in my abilities and I consciously look to close on them and improve myself while still honouring what got me to where I am strengths.

My strength was making people see clearly my vision and plan.

This office was smartly decorated, and I immediately understood why its staff appeared inspired and energised. Such a colourful space can indeed spark imaginative ideas. My mind was wandering too much as I sat on the leather seat.

“I’ll turn my Green Lantern into such an organisation once I find a clear and elaborate way to expand,” I pondered.

“You are good to go in,” the secretary with a tag ‘Mary’ stated as she smiled. “I am happy for you,” she added.

This made me pause for a while and I felt this need to hug her. I felt she was a comrade. There’s something in a simple hug that always warms the heart. But I refrained and smiled back.

“Thank you, Mary,” I stated as I walked in. I could feel the fragrance of my own perfume. This sweet and gentle perfume can transport me in less than an instant to a place of tranquil love and relaxation when I am under pressure. It’s better than chewing.

I walked straight to the table, heaped my belongings on the desk, connected my laptop to the projector and opened my PowerPoint slides then smiled at the directors.

“A rainy day is a blessed day. And you all look elegant today…”

That caught them off guard. They smiled, giggled and a few murmurs here and there.

30 minutes later, I walked out of the room and out to the waiting bay again.

Mary the secretary looked at me and immediately figured the aftermath of the proposal.

“You didn’t pass right?” She asked. I wondered at how quickly we had struck a friendship.

“Not really, they flagged some proposals, asked some tough questions and said they will reach out later. I hope they do because I believe this tender will help me expand my business,” I added as she handed me a cup of coffee I had turned down earlier on.

Coffee is a language itself and I didn’t know if it would have stimulated me to that level I wanted. I trusted my perfume more. Haaa…

“How did you plan to expand?” an inquisitive Mary weighed in.

“The tender, maybe a loan or something..” I stammered in between.

“I bank with Co-op bank and they have some amazing offers you would like to explore. Or where do you bank, I may advise you on the same,” she added.

“I am at Co-op bank too. A coincidence right. I was to visit them later on..” I responded.

“Then inquire about Msamaria Women’s Loan. Co-op will guarantee you up to Ksh10 million unsecured loan. Msamaria Women’s Loan offers financial empowerment to women who are seeking working and investment capital. This loan facility aims at accelerating women’s economic empowerment by providing affordable and usable finance towards their businesses.

She added that Co-op offers Msamaria Women’s Loan of between Ksh5,000 to Ksh300,000 for 12 months, Ksh300,000 to Ksh1 million for 18 months and above Ksh1 million for 36 months.

All one requires is to have a business not less than a year old and one that should have regular cash flow, a business license of the current year where applicable and a KRA Pin. New Co-op users are required to open an account with Co-operative Bank and provide certified bank statements from other banks if your Co-op Bank account is less than 6 months old.

I hugged her close, “So brilliant,” I lauded as I ran out of the office straight to the parking lot and drove to the nearby Co-op bank to discuss and sign some paperwork with the manager.

I was empowered not only to expand my business but also to create more job opportunities.

Right now I am heading to an outing with Mary. I couldn’t have done this without her.

Toast to the good and impactful people in life.