A young Kenyan devised a unique way of surviving in the harsh economy which has seen many of his agemates rendered jobless. He settled on painting and decorating graveyards.
However, for Charles Karanja, his venture is different from those in the same field as he couples it up with technology which pays off as seen from his average income of Ksh 2.7 million annually.
In an interview with The Standard on Friday, February 7, the Kiambu-based decorator detailed that he had even established a firm out of the venture, creating employment for seven others.
"I construct graves and also decorate them. People are innovating ways on how to remember the dead. A long time ago, people were thrown in the bush or they planted a banana plant as a landmark for graves, but nowadays they are appreciating and remembering their loved ones.
"I help them do that in a special way. When someone is buried, that's their special home forever. So it's good you appreciate that person and respect the dead," Karanja stated.
While in campus, Karanja studied construction, which he stated aided him to set up his workshop where clients approached him with unique ideas like constructing a house-like tombstone.
At first, people wondered what his venture was all about and even questioned how he decided to enter such a market.
"At first, when I started this everyone wondered what I was doing. They had not expected that and had not expected to see an office set up for such work.
"They all came to be marvelled by my work. They would ask questions and in my mind, I saw them as potential clients," Karanja recalled.
Despite having no experience in the field, he figured out that he could learn more from the internet, gathering knowledge from templates and experts.
"At first, they took it as something odd. My first project inspired me to believe in myself because I did it using internet technology because I had not done such work before. I, therefore, realised I could do more and more than I could imagine.
"I have seven permanent workers and some casuals and I have a managing director. When I began, I didn't have capital. I relied on a down payment that was made by a client to start up my business," he affirmed.
In a good month, he makes Ksh 300,000 and Ksh 150,000 on a bad one. This averages to Ksh 225,000 in a month and Ksh 2,700,000 a year. He charges Ksh 60,000 as a standard fee for a project. However, like every other entrepreneur, he faces challenges every day.
"Yes, I have challenges, especially financial ones. At times a client short changes you and may even decline to make a payment. Especially if they are out of Kiambu, you are forced to follow up via phone. Others would ignore and even block you," he lamented.
Despite the challenges, he has not been deterred from striving for the best as he looks forward to creating more job opportunities.
"I aim to reach higher, where I would be the best decorator in the country. I also want to inspire the youth and employ more of them as I open more workshops.
"There are great opportunities out there that have never been utilised. It's a matter of thinking about it and focusing. For me, I depend on referrals to grow my business, so I use social media where I post some of my works," he stated.
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