Mitumba Business Kenya: BY CAROLINE OBUYA: Grace Wambere is a wife, a mother, and Chief Executive Officer of Mitumba Chap Chap. Like any ambitious young girl, my thirst for higher education and a better life led me to pack my bags and leave for Germany in search of greener pastures.
First, I enrolled for a course in German language for ease of communication then I undertook a degree course in Information technology at Johan Wolfang Frankfurt University. I also did abit of hotel management, and enrolled for an internship program in a media company where I learnt branding. I lived in Germany for a total of eight years before coming back to Kenya in 2011. I started Mitumba chap Chap in 2013 after consulting with people about where I could buy affordable clothes, I got alot of referrals to Gikomba market. At first Going to Gikomba felt very scary because people used to tell me that I could be mugged.
As days went by I gathered enough courage and armed with two thousand shillings in my pocket, I set out for the expansive Gikomba market. Least to say, I was mesmerized at how cheap the clothes at Gikomba market were being sold. I began by picking out maternity clothes which I could showcase at pregnant womens’ fashion shows. People used to love my clothes and would want to buy them. Eventually I started hawking them at the maternity fairs. My first born came in 2013 and I had to wait until he was about four months old to fully venture into the mitumba business.
The urge to be self-employed motivated me into the business even-though many including my dad were opposed to the idea. “My dad was against the idea of me selling mitumba saying I cannot go to Germany, do such a course in IT which can land me a job at the United Nations then come back and start selling mitumba. But like my mother, I was determined to be self-employed,” she recalls.
The little knowledge from my mother’s tailoring background jump started me into the clothes business. She used to have a stall in Kamukunji, Nyeri where while growing up I could have my way around things like tape measures, threads and the tailoring machine etc. Most of the time during holidays, my mother would request me to help in fixing buttons or ironing clothes. On Saturdays, when she would take the merchandise to an open air market, Instead of closing the stall, she would leave me back selling clothes.