Tuesday, April 23, 2024

George Mutua: How I raised capital with my wife to start precast construction business

George Mutua is the founder and CEO of Global Precast Panels, a build-tech company specializing in production and construction using precast technology.

With Precast technology, you are able to reduce construction costs and period by half. My wife and I had learnt about precast technology abroad and we wanted to use it to build our rural home. After shopping around, we couldn’t find a local supplier for precast.

We found this to be a huge opportunity staring at us. We did some more research which included travels to China, UAE among other countries where precast is huge just to learn and understand more on how it works.

The budget was about Sh. 20 million which we funded through sale of assets like land, motor vehicles and unsecured bank loans since we were both in active employment. We also got some of the machinery and trucks through hire purchase directly from the dealers. We started our operations in 2017 while we were still employed.

I worked in the banking sector and media before I ventured into this business. This greatly contributed to my exposure. My wife with whom we started the business was in Telco’s.

We started by building our own home in Meru which gave us the firsthand experience and fortunately a few friends liked our 3 Bedroom house and gave us business. Within one year we had broken even.

Being a new concept, the old generation is still struggling to accept the technology. Unpredictable cost of construction materials like Cement and steel which forms large percentage of or raw materials is greatly affecting the construction industry.

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Our big break came during the 2020 pandemic outbreak. At the time, there was a mandatory requirement for increased spaces in schools, churches and government offices to adhere to social distancing.

This was very exciting because with Precast, a classroom or a church could be done in a record time of below 2 weeks. It is during this period that our products were fully accepted by big corporates for CSR, schools, churches and government institutions.

We have previously also had bad business experiences that have taught us the hard way to be unique, authentic and original in business. One time, we invested in betting shops, copying what other people were doing without much thought and we lost millions of money when betting shops were closed by the then government.

We spent a lot of time and resources setting up our factory. We employed clueless technicians who had no idea of what we wanted to execute and lied to us that they could.

We should have sought professional services or contracted our suppliers for a full factory set up of the production line. This would have saved us time and money, and enhanced our efficiencies in those early days.

We save money by investing back and expanding our business. This is mainly through development of more product offering or business assets such as machinery and equipment which in turn increases our revenue streams.

Previously, I used to save through a savings account. But then I realized that keeping money in a savings account wasn’t working because of unending competing needs.

Whatever business you chose to do give it your best and the results will come with consistency. Making mistakes is part of life and business is no different. Sometimes you will make decisions that may not go your way.

Acknowledge your mistakes without excuses, own up and learn from them. Everyone needs a support system to keep going, my family is. Personally, I have chosen entrepreneurship over employment.

This is because if you are lucky to survive an axe and have a successful career, you will one day retire and want to run an enterprise, however small. Starting early when you are more energetic is better.

 

A version of this profile feature on George Mutua of Global Precast Panels was also published in the Saturday Magazine. The Saturday Magazine is a publication of the Nation Media Group.

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