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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Roselyne Njoki: What I learnt after using a loan to start my business

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Financing a Business: Roselyne Njoki Nthiga is the founder and CEO of Angie’s Tea, an exporter and local distributor of a purple tea – also known as clone – which was introduced in Kenya by the Tea Research Institute in 2011.

Starting out: Over the past two years, I have learned that being unique is the key to success in entrepreneurship. In the same vein, it’s the finest fuel for wealth creation. Your quality simply has to stand out. For example, when I was starting, I didn’t want to get into a line of business that is available at every corner of the street. I wanted to sell uniqueness, and Purple Tea perfectly fit the bill. It was reserved for exportation only, and I thought that apart from exporting, I could localize it. That the business is a rare kind of enterprise has seen me exhibit at global trade stages such as World Trade Organization fora. Uniqueness breeds opportunities.

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Loans: I didn’t have enough savings to fund my startup capital when I launched the local version in 2015. I opted for a bank loan. It was very challenging because many of the banks I approached were not willing to fund my startup. Although I finally managed to get a loan, I spent the first year juggling between loan repayments and making profits.

Biggest money mistake: When I started, I underestimated the amount I’d require to run my business. Within a short while, I found myself spending more than what I had borrowed to cater for my operational costs. It was during the same period that I suffered my biggest loss in business. To begin with, I had to brand the business in order to fit in the local market. This involved a lot of design and advertising, and when I had my materials ready and in bulk, I realized that there were glaring mistakes. I had to start the branding and marketing exercise afresh, which consumed a large chunk of my capital.

What I’d do differently: If I were to turn back the clock, I’d shop around for better financing a business. I’d compare what every lender is offering rather than wait for the one who’ll accept my proposal like I did two years ago. Before you decide to get funded by one lender, always find out what the lender on the other end of the street is offering. You may just find a better deal.

Projections: You must have projections either monthly or annually in business and in wealth creation. This is what I do every end of month and every end of year. If I fail to meet my projections by a large margin, then I am alerted that there’s something that is derailing me. However, for your projections to work, you need to have clear plans for your money.

This feature was first published in the Saturday Magazine. Saturday Magazine is a publication of the Nation Media Group.

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