Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Beatrice Mauku: My gamble to start business with sacco loan, pension savings paid off

Beatrice Mauku Mabia is the founder and Director of Mobett’s Agro Center, a business that deals in the supply of Agricultural Machines that include Water Pumps, Power Generators, Solar Lighting solutions, Power Tools, Posho Mills, Silage making machines and associated spare parts.

I had a desire to run my own business. I longed for that financial freedom and independence that I wasn’t getting from formal employment. I also felt the need to prepare a foundation for my children as they graduate from university. I therefore took a bold move of resigning from formal employment with a company in which I had worked for many years.

My start-up capital was money borrowed from a SACCO, and pension savings that totaled about Sh. 900,000. I also had friends who gave me stocks on credit to start off. The business was officially opened to the public in January 2021 and has been in operation for slightly over one and a half years. Before I started my business, I had been employed as a Sales Executive at Rift Valley Machinery services, where I worked for a period of 23 years. With experience, network and rich knowledge of the products, it was a smooth transition from employment to business owner.

Running this business has not been a walk in the park especially with the tough economic challenges that generally affected the whole country. The 2020 pandemic was a major set-back for many enterprises and ours was not an exception, but through hard work and determination, our business broke even after eleven months in November 2021. Even then we have faced challenges, just like other business entities and these include product pricing in relation to what the customer can afford and inadequate capital that can sustain and expand the business.

I have also encountered challenges in accessing finances and credit as the lenders require security which sometimes is not available. As a start-up, I have not been able to employ adequate and competent manpower that can effectively run the business. This is a major challenge because it means that if I have to attend to other issues, the business has to be closed.

My biggest money mistake has been mixing personal expenditure with business money. I have also had unnecessary expenditure on things that I really can do without and lack of financial planning through budgeting. However, in June this year, I was lucky to be selected and enrolled in the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs, a program sponsored by Ushindi Empowerment, where I have acquired knowledge on the importance of financial planning. I have learned that prioritizing expenses and allocating money to projects and items that will help the business grow is key, contrary to which business closure and bankruptcy is imminent.

James Mwaura: How I used my Sh. 50,000 savings to start my business

My greatest business moment was when I successfully closed a deal with an NGO to partner and train dairy farmers in Nyanza and Western regions. This training was on value addition. I also got to supply them with the right equipment to improve their farming activities and financial income. This partnership came through a phone call inquiry. The client wanted some equipment with specific characteristics. Since the equipment can be fabricated locally, and I have the know-how, I convinced him that I am up to the task. I thank him for believing in me.

I do not take chances when it comes to savings. I ensure that customers pay in advance, get best discounts from suppliers, keep track of all expenses and spend only on what is necessary. Over time, I have observed that saving money for the business is a smart strategy that provides for a financial cushion during economic downturns and for business expansion.

It takes a lot of mental fortitude to correct a bad financial situation. As an entrepreneur, always zealously protect what you have built. Invest in your network, because your network is your net worth. Remember you are at an advantage being in entrepreneurship. You have that financial freedom and empowerment that cannot be derived from employment.

This profile feature on Beatrice Mauku was also published in the Saturday Magazine. The Saturday Magazine is a publication of the Nation Media Group.

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