The story of a former Kenyan street hawker who now runs a firm with an annual turnover of Sh70 million

He runs an events company that boasts of working with politicians and corporates

On December 31st, 2014,he planned a New Year's event that had an A-list of musicians, popular DJs and comedians.

Jay was hoping for the best having spent Sh4 million to prepare for the mega concert.

“I spent about 4 million shillings to prepare for the party. I wanted everyone to enjoy themselves and live to remember that night," he told Capital Business in an interview.

However, things went astray as people hardly showed up. By the next morning, Jay had incurred losses of up to Sh3.9 million, leaving him financially unstable.

The loss and struggle did not, however, start on that day.

Jay has been through a lot of hurdles dating back to his high school days when he dropped out in Form Two due to lack of fees.

Hawking

He was forced into hawking second-hand clothes in Nairobi, a life he says was characterized by hardships.

"I thank God because that job gave me a ‘street degree’, which is much more valuable than any formal education I’ve ever received.”

After quitting as a hawker, Jay started an events company under the name  ‘Parrot Company’. Luckily, the company required zero capital to establish.

“My job was to identify people who needed to hold an event and had no idea on how to do it. I would then come in by planning and supplying them with the necessary equipment. Once business picked up, I started being contracted to do big jobs such as the one where I lost a lot of money.”

Branding

Despite incurring losses after the New Year's eve event, he would not quit just yet.

He began diversifying his product offering to branding where a few corporates came on board.

“Parrot was given a contract to handle Orange’s branding during the promotion of the low-end ‘Kadunda’ mobile phone. That was really a milestone for us," he said.

Jay has worked with several companies that include M-Kopa, TelKom Kenya, Lenovo and CMC Motors among others.

His company has an annual turnover of Sh70 million with assets worth over Sh40 million. He also employs 21 people.

Campaign

Jay's business flourished during last year's campaign period where he worked with several politicians who sought his branding services.

One of his greatest achievements so far was when he was contracted by State House Nairobi to brand President Kenyatta campaign vehicles.

"We went to State House to do the impromptu job that required perfection. It was quite a scene; doing what we do in the company of State House security."

Good reputation

The former street hawker owes his success to honesty and not despairing despite the blunders he made.

“If you cannot deliver a product or a service within a particular timeline, do not lie to your client. Tell them the truth. A majority of business people lie because they want to maximize their profits but do not care about the services they offer.”

He also urges budding entrepreneurs to cultivate a good reputation which will, in turn, give one repeat customers and referrals.

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