How High School Dropout Beat Odds to Build Multi-Million Shilling Business
Meshack Kimutai, 26, decided to try his hand at business in 2006 after dropping out of secondary school in Fom Two due to lack of fees— a move that has since spawned a business empire.
He left his Kapsabet home in Nandi County for Eldoret town where he found space at a garage behind Asis Hotel that he would later turn into a car wash yard. Mr Kimutai was only 16 then. Armed with only a bucket and water, he started washing cars manually, especially matatus, and earned Sh100 for every vehicle washed.
“With the help of some street boys, we would wash at least 30 matatus daily until around August, the same year, when I acquired a pressure car washing machine.”
By November the same year, he had finished paying the Sh40,000 he had borrowed to buy the car washing machine. His charges rose to Sh200, enabling him to buy another machine to expand his small enterprise.
He was able to save up and in 2007 returned to school, this time at Uasin Gishu High School where he went back to Form Two.
“I passed really well. I got a C plus in my final exams, I am not ashamed to say ,” says the third born in a family of seven.
From his humble beginning, Mr Kimutai is now the founder of two multi-million shilling companies.
His maiden company, Seal Travel International Ltd, which is based in Mombasa, started operations towards the end of 2010.
Seal Travels deals mainly with air ticketing, hotel bookings and conference tourism, usually referred to as Mice or (meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions).
After sitting his last paper in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examination, he boarded the next bus to Mombasa in search of greener pastures, Mr Kimutai told Enterprise.
But he was homeless. “I would sleep in night clubs, sipping one bottle of soda the entire night. I thought Mombasa had bigger opportunities but they did not seem forthcoming,” he said.
He did not despair but went to Likoni in search of a casual job. Luck was on his side for he secured a job at Boss Freight, a logistics company, as a tallying officer in early 2010.
“It is funny since when I got there I found a group of young people being directed to their new jobs. They had just been recruited and thinking I was part of the group I was asked to join them.”
His work involved counting cars being offloaded from ships in terminal one at the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA). A shift of six hours would see him earn Sh1,000. But since he had nowhere to sleep, he chose to work for 24 hours.
He finally got a place to call home in Likoni where he paid a monthly rent of Sh3,000.
Mr Kimutai said he again saved up and acquired a Sh42,000 laptop and later registered his company at a cost of Sh60,000. It took him six months to register the company, a process which he says was not easy.
He was still labouring at KPA when he decided to approach Vogue Tours and Travel Company for a volunteer job. He secured a place as a messenger, a that job allowed him to observe how they were getting clients for safaris and later he would also source local and international clients for the company at a commission.
“By May 2010, I was already getting clients and getting paid for it. In a good month I could get about 15 domestic clients and five international ones, earning Sh20,000 per client in the latter category,” said Mr Kimutai.
He worked his way up and opened an office at the TSS Towers in Mombasa to fully run his airticketing and accommodation business.
Mr Kimutai recalls facing a big hurdle in business in 2012 due to rampant cartels in the tours and travel industry. The travel advisories issued by the international communities because of terror attacks that rocked the coastal region also posed a major challenge.
He had taken a loan to buy six tour and travel vehicles, but was forced to abandon the business.
“It was not easy selling the cars but God helped me,” he said. Seal Travels is now recognised as an international mice accommodations booking system.
He has since graduated from Central Queensland University with a degree in Tourism and Hospitality Management. He is currently taking an online Masters course in Leadership and Management in the same institution.
Last year, Seals Travels expanded to have two branches in Mombasa with 12 permanent staff.
Its success led to the birth of Mesh Group Ltd, a real estate, construction and general supplies company located at Upper Hill, Nairobi.
According to Mr Kimutai, Mesh Group is certified as an authorised constructor by the National Construction Authority and is currently setting up 20 three bedroom units in Eldoret’s Pioneer Estate, valued at over Sh40 million.
The company also supplies general items to the government. To give back to the community he started the Meshack Kimutai Foundation in 2013 to empower youth and women.
Source: Business Daily