The journey of starting a business

AndrewNicko Ondoro – Shadoro Cyber Cafe – Ahero

Everyone dreams of having their own business, the idea of being your own boss, making your own rules and making tons and tons of money sounds like a dream that could potentially come true, but what people don’t know is the amount of work that goes into starting a business and the challenges of making it a success.

I was employed as a monitoring and evaluation officer in a health care institution and to reduce printing expenses I invested in a printer and would print the office paperwork at home. Over time my colleagues also started asking me to print for them and I would charge a fee.

By the time my contract was ending I had secured a lot of hospital file and card printing jobs in a number of hospitals hence when the contract was not renewed it was a cue to start the cyber business as my main hustle.

The main focus of my business today is screen printing of t-shirts and stationery with the aspiration to become the go to print center within my region. However, as my business was growing the need to have bigger capacity in terms of printing started becoming a reality but the cost of printers was too high, being in Ahero a lot of walk in customers would constantly also ask for e-government services like KRA tax returns or PIN retrieval but my skills were quite limited.

When I came across the dijITali facebook page, I felt that they had the ability to help in many ways since it is a network of cyber cafes in Kenya, the 1st of its kind I may say. Through the dijITali network, i have been able to acquire a printer at a reasonable price and in instalments, i have gained from capacity building through creative thinking and design skills, not forgetting the continuous mentorship we get from invited speakers on how best we can manage our business, marketing, ways of increasing our revenue and sharing of experience with other cyber owners. I have been a beneficiary of having an intern help me out in my cyber for 3 months courtesy of dijITali.

In under 2 years that I have been part of the network I can say that my business is on another level (thinking big) and my revenue has doubled. I would say that this is the best thing that has happened to me. As the saying goes; “an investment in knowledge pays the best interest”. The network has also taught me to become resilient and always do more when an opportunity arises.

For anyone who would like to start a business I would say; it’s all about passion and doing research on the business you want to venture in and what will make you excel in your field but most importantly, gather more knowledge to become better at what you do.

Making the transition from Employee to Entrepreneur

Pamela Wesongs – Owner Teetyrant Cyber Cafe (Busia)

Today, you hear people talking about how they left employment to run their own businesses and have never regretted the decision they made. Being an employee, I would constantly see myself as a business owner particularly when I experienced hard times in the office. But, my friends were not resonating with my ideas and they felt that plugging into a business venture was suicidal particularly when I mentioned my ideal location was upcountry and not Nairobi. Having lived in Nairobi from childhood they felt the rural areas would be too slow and without fun.

As Walt Disney said, “the way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing”. I knew it was time to start my business when my employment contract was not renewed in 2018. My vision of an ideal business was having a bookshop and a gas cylinder retail shop. The cyber cafe was a last-minute thought that came to me when I saw how many things and services were being digitized and that’s how the bookshop fell through the cracks, a decision I do not regret making.

To say I was unprepared for the challenges that were coming is an understatement, to me, a cyber cafe was the easiest thing to do; login for browsing, photocopying and typesetting to say the least. That leap of faith nearly made me rethink the whole business thing. I had not anticipated what it takes to be able to fulfil your customers’ needs, I had just seen an easy way of making money in photocopying, branding and KRA returns. The heat started coming when I got different requests on online services that I had no idea what to do and for the first time, Google did not have an answer.

I joined dijITali when I saw the advert on Facebook, curious about what they could do I decided to sign up. My business has grown gradually since I now have adequate knowledge and skills to solve different issues for my customers without referring them to another cyber café or Huduma Centres. This has been possible especially because of the different training, real-time solution and knowledge I have benefited from being a dijITali member.

The benefits of the training are worthwhile since I have been able to earn more revenue from it. For example, through the training on “design by dijITali”, I’m now able to do design work myself while in the past I would pay someone to do it for me. Being part of the dijITali network has also improved my day to day life since each day I’m learning a new skill from the other members and I am also able to share what I know. I have learned a lot and I have also learnt that as a cyber café owner, I don’t have to limit myself to the normal printing and photocopying that others do.

It’s really motivating to have a partner who believes in your journey and walks it with you. To other cyber cafes. dijITali has worked around the clock to ensure that we as cyber owners are well equipped with printers, print press machines and cameras that make our work more diverse hence increasing our revenue, they have elevated the stress that comes with looking for financing for CAPEX which allows us to focus on ways of growing our business. I would advise them to join the dijITali platform and benefit from a partner who has their best interest at heart.

Following Your Passion

Since childhood, I have always had a passion for computers. Having seen how cyber cafes around me were incompetent and not up to speed particularly with the current trend used to make me very upset. At the time I was running an agrovet which was doing fine until Covid 19 pandemic hit and business started to become very slow. Many are the days I would sit idle without getting a customer and at the end of the month utility bills and rent still needed to be paid.

It got to a point where I had incurred a lot of debts as the business was incurring losses. By the time I was closing the agrovet, I had incurred a huge electricity bill to the sum of Kshs. 150,000. Not sure what to do next, and loaded with only a laptop, I looked for a corridor and opened a cyber cafe. It was very hard for me because I was facing financial challenges, did not have enough knowledge on running a cyber cafe, what were the pros and cons of the different printers and computers amidst music copyrights issues and other hangups. I tried approaching different financing institutions for a small loan to upscale my cyber, but I couldn’t meet the minimum requirements and neither did I have guarantors.

My vision of having a huge Alientech Centre with Entertainment (gaming and television), Digital services, ICT, College and Hackers (pen testing & software engineering) services seemed to be slowly slipping away until I came across dijITali. I joined dijITali because their mission was job creation for the youth. Being only 23 years, I saw an opportunity to grow. The knowledge I have acquired by being part of the network has elevated me from my initial position of “trying out” to a more well-rooted and confident young entrepreneur in the digital world through attending online classes, meetings, webinars and opportunities that dijITali offers. Not forgetting the seamless process of getting equipment at a “lipa mdogo mdogo” financing that does not require a lot of complications.

Today, I can confidently say that being part of the dijITali network has helped me a lot and people around my locality have started referring to my cybercafe as a Huduma Center. If asked to rate the dijITali on a scale of 1 – 10, I would give it a 10 because of the experience and exposure I have today, I cannot get it anywhere else. For any other Cyber café owners who want to grow economically and add more skills, I would highly recommend you join the dijITali network

Rising from a Pandemic

Allan Didack – Owner Blessed Cyber Cafe (Mombasa)

A lot of business stories don’t follow a conventional path. The road to business success is paved with headaches, hang-ups and setbacks. The business owner’s capacity to persevere in the face of adversity is what is required to emerge better and bigger. We read a lot of stories about successful business owners like Bill Gates, Walt Disney, Richard Brandson among others who failed only to rise better and bigger. What really matters is what you learn from those failures.

Before the Covid 19 pandemic, business was good and I was running a movie shop and a cyber cafe. At the time I could see a lot of prospects in business growth, so I borrowed heavily from different financial institutions and diversified my business to include; gas refill distribution, sales of stationery and related accessories and M-pesa services. After the lockdown, business started becoming slow but I was hopeful that things would improve sooner than later.

Will no skills on how to mitigate risk life continued as usual taking a day at a time. After a while I
started falling behind on my repayments and that was the beginning of my downward spiral. I had to sell almost everything; the gas cylinders, my printers and computers were gone and every little income I got went to the repayments. To say the least, I found myself with nothing, not sure where to turn to. I tried to close the cyber cafe or give it to someone else to run it, but it seems God didn’t want me to give up, so I encouraged myself that I can make it and I reopened the cyber cafe again. This happened in January 2021.

I have been a member of the dijITali network since January 2020 and I have benefited from training they were having like design by dijITali, marketing 101 and how to do e-government documentation i.e. KRA, TPAD, NEMIS and many more. Around the time that I was losing everything, I had applied for media equipment Capex financing from dijITali which I got at the time I was almost closing the business.

Life has to go on and with no other source of income, I began taking photos with the Nikon Camera I got from dijITali in April 2021, I would then look for someone with a printer to print the photos at a fee. Over time I started getting more customers. One day I woke up to a new idea of how to frame photos using boards in the dijITali WhatsApp group and that made the turning point of where I am today. Through this photography and framing work, I have been able to increase my services, recap on some of the things I had lost, I even got a media contract with a local non-governmental organization.

Thanks to dijITali, despite all that I went through they, understood me and gave me ways in which I can regain what I lost. In those three months, I was depending on photography work. A piece of advice I can give to anyone looking to join the network is that no matter what you might be going through you will always have a partner who understands you and help you overcome challenges by showing you the way. It is great to know that there is someone out there who is willing to help and push you to stand up and try again even when you feel you have reached the end. Lastly, I want to say thank you for the great work you are doing. NYINYI NI WASEE WA MAANASA SANA. Below are some of the photography work I have been doing.

Leap of Faith

Evans Barasa – Owner Gwanso ICT Centre (Sigalagala)

I was working as a Social Development Assistant. The idea of starting a cyber cafe was born when I tried to get a copy of the certificate that I needed for an application I was making and had to travel for 16 kilometres to the nearest town to get it. This made me realize what benefit the community will get from having a cyber around. Gwanso ICT Centre offers photocopying, internet services, design and ICT training lessons. After a while, I realised there was a great opportunity in design work as many people would constantly ask for birthday cards. funeral programmes and a lot of wedding photographs that needed editing. A search for a college to achieve digital design skills was an uphill task as the local colleges did not have the capacity and travelling to Kakamega the nearest town was not a possibility plus the cost was too high.

I came across a dijITali post on Facebook and fell in love with it, and I thought “why not try it” Being part of the dijITali network has helped me gain skills in design, e-government customer relations, and other business partnership offers. Even when I was looking to get a more advanced printer, dijITali came through and now my clientele and revenue have increased. Today, I am the showstopper in our community when it comes to any service anyone wants in the digital spectrum.

I consider myself very lucky, being a young entrepreneur who had the opportunity to find a partner who has my great interest at heart. I owe everything to the dijITali network for moulding and making me who I am today in the business world. For those who are facing similar challenges as I had, I would say, stress no more, dijITali is the place to be.

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