Not many people have endured their family losing its business completely and successfully managing to make a comeback.
Zameer Verjee, however, was strong enough to live through the harrowing experience of watching his family lose everything.
“I grew up in wealth and then my family lost everything and our company went into receivership. It was hard starting from scratch, but the instinct to survive drove me forward," Verjee told The Standard in an April 2019 interview.
He narrated that the business had been in his family for more than a century but in a weird turn of events, lost everything which affected his studies.
He was studying building economics in the UK at the time. When he returned home, he found the family in distraught and he only possessed Ksh 52,000.
"It was a struggle for me to complete university in the UK where I was studying building economics. I came back home to the daunting uncertainty of an insecure future.
"All I had was £400 (Ksh 52,000). I needed a place to stay and a way to make a living. My parents were in such dire straits that they couldn’t really help. I had only one option and that was to survive; it’s with this mindset that I grew my business," he continued.
He had to survive, pay rent and start a business from the same amount and for the first three years he started Studio AZ, an interior design company.
"I spent my first three years of business living and working from the back of someone’s house in the servant quarters.
"What helped was that my clients paid deposits upfront, money which I used to run the business," he added.
Initially, the company made losses but after the first year, it broke even and elevated its stature to handling multi-million projects.
"We eventually stabilised and moved to an office. We currently have 12 members of staff and 28 site workers, though this figure varies depending on job requirements.
"We moved from making losses in our first year of business to handling contracts worth Ksh30 million," narrated Verjee.
In 2017, Forbes Africa magazine honoured the entrepreneur in its annual 30 Most Promising Entrepreneurs list, with his company being valued at Ksh51 million.
One of the biggest projects his company ever did was when he got contracted to design the interiors of Western Heights, which is a 14-floor building in Nairobi’s Westlands.
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