Agatha Nkirote is a Kenyan content creator and entrepreneur. In a video uploaded on her YouTube Channel with over 50,000 subscribers, Nkirote narrates how she lost all her money in a mitumba business she had started with a friend.
Nkirote was an employee in a well-paying Chinese company but was never excited about her job. She decided to quit and become her own boss. While in the company, she saved enough to see her dream come true. Upon agreement with her friend, they decided to open a mitumba business with the anticipation of making a kill in the baby-clothes business.
“I knew with baby clothes in Mitumba business, kids are always going to get born, and the market would not get exhausted,”
She eventually left her job and got into the business. Together with the friend, they rented a shop at the busy Toi Market and paid a deposit and six months’ rent upfront. The next thing they would think about is stocking their shop.
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All was well until they secured the first bale from an Indian vendor along Mombasa road. The bale, which was worth Ksh 13,000, was full of rejects and torn clothes.
“When I opened the bale, I almost cried. Almost the whole bale comprised of rejects. I was so disappointed. If you don’t have someone to guide you on the best bales to buy, you will face it rough,”
She managed to sell the good clothes and made Ksh 4,000 from them and resorted to getting another bale. This time she decided not to buy from the previous vendor. She talked to one of the traders in Toi market, who linked her to another supplier.
“I got another bale, and it was looking promising. The next weekend I sold Ksh 5,400, and I was so happy and I couldn’t lack Ksh 1,000 or Ksh 500 within the week from passers-by,”
She kept praying to God to help her get to the levels of her colleagues who would make over Ksh. 20,000 a day. Little did Nkirote know that what she thought was bad was just about to become worse.
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The COVID-19 pandemic hit, and a viral video claiming that secondhand clothes from abroad contained the virus surfaced. This rumour resulted in people refraining from buying mitumba clothes, especially baby clothes, given how sensitive babies are to diseases.
“Who would buy clothes for their kids to get infected? There were no customers at all. I remember we could open shops and sit outside waiting for a single client to pass by, but nobody was passing,”
Double trouble hit her way when the government introduced social distancing in public service vehicles which hiked the fare. She could spend around Ksh 500-600 a day yet there were no customers. It became difficult for her to commute to the shop daily, and she decided she would only sell on the weekends.
“Within a month, I was broke to the point that I couldn’t even get fare to go to the shop. I would go to the shop on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, but still, no people were coming.”
Her stock remained in the shop unsold, with another bale stuck in the port of Mombasa for three months. At this point, she had no choice but to shut down her shop.
Nkirote blamed the lack of research on the fall of her business.
“There is nothing bad like going into business with this fantasy that people are making money, and you have not done your research well, you will fail,”
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