Meet the 26-year-old Austrian who left his well paying job in Dubai to sell second-hand clothes in Kenya
The story of an entrepreneur who makes a living off mitumba
And one Benjamin Gsell can fully attest to that. The 26 year old Austrian decided to make the mitumba business his calling, and he has never looked back.
“While visiting Nairobi for the first time in March 2017 and driving through the city, I was stunned by the proliferation of second-hand clothes along the streets,” Benjamin told The Standard newspaper in an interview.
He had just quit a well paying job in Dubai to go back into entrepreneurship.
Benjamin was on a tour of Kenya and was impressed by the potential he saw in the business. Infact, he relocated to the country late last year and opened his first shop soon after.
"I have three shops in Nairobi’s Gikomba market, with most of my containers offloaded in Donholm."
The budding entrepreneur said he injected Sh5.5 million into the business which he raised from savings and a business partner.
"I sell my products to wholesalers looking to buy up to 100 bales – though, depending on the size of the bales, I can sell up to 10 bales at wholesale prices.
I sell a bale at Sh4,000 to Sh19,000, depending on what’s inside, as well as sell some items on retail to boost profits," he said.
He sources his clothes from the UK where the stock then comes via ship to Mombasa and eventually via SGR to Nairobi.
"We’re in the construction phase of opening our own factory in Romania, but for now we’re only sourcing for high-quality clothes from the UK."
Benjamin said he settled for Kenya owing to the investor-friendly framework and ease in communication with the customers as English is prevalent.
He, however, faced a few challenges in the beginning key among them being market entry.
"How would we get people to trust and buy our products? Mitumba traders are well known so most customers stick to what they know. However, we overcame this obstacle by providing excellent quality and pricing, as well as making deliveries within Nairobi."
Regarding future plans for his business, Benjamin said he looks to expand to other markets in and outside Kenya.
"We also want to expand into other East African countries, such as Tanzania and Uganda, as well into key markets in West Africa, like Ghana, Benin, Togo and Nigeria, in 2019."
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