Saturday, June 3, 2023

From House Help to Owning Three Businesses: The Story of Janei Muthoni

Imagine being a single mother of two kids at 20, a failed marriage at 24, with no academic papers and little hope of work. This article features Janei Muthoni's inspiring journey from being a house help to a successful entrepreneur.

The Story of Janei Muthoni: At 18, I entered into marriage after dropping out of high school due to an unplanned pregnancy. By the time I was 20, I had given birth to my second child. Unfortunately, the marriage eventually fell apart after six years. Being a single mother, I couldn’t find the opportunity to return to school.

At the age of 24, I found myself raising two kids on my own and with empty pockets. Thankfully, my mother kindly agreed to take care of my children while I ventured to Nairobi in search of employment. Realizing that my lack of academic qualifications limited my options, I joined a Facebook group called “Nannies and House Helps” in 2018.

Within the group, I actively sought job opportunities and eventually secured a position as a house help in Kilimani, earning a monthly salary of Ksh 10,000. As I left home, I acknowledged that I needed a starting point. Since I wasn’t sure what to do next, I set a two-year timeframe for myself to work in this role. Thus, I worked as a nanny throughout 2019 and 2020.

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In 2020, I began searching for another employer who would pay a higher monthly salary of Ksh 15,000 for the same nanny job. However, this new opportunity came with the condition that I couldn’t visit my family for a whole year. Despite the heartache of being separated from my kids, I understood that great things often require sacrifices, so I accepted the offer.

By the end of 2020, I decided to leave my position as a nanny and returned home to plan my next move. I was torn between using my savings to start a business or build a home for my mother and children. Eventually, I opted to build a home for them.

As 2021 arrived, I found myself broke and uncertain of my future. Although I hadn’t decided on my next steps, I was determined not to become a house help again. In January, I returned to Nairobi in search of a new job.

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A friend kindly offered me a place to stay, but I faced significant challenges in securing employment. However, luck finally smiled upon me, and I landed a job as a dishwasher at a hotel on Nong Road.

I had always taken pride in my cooking skills, so one day, I approached the owner and requested permission to prepare a meal for the hotel’s clients. To my surprise, the clients loved the food, and I was promptly promoted to the position of main cook.

Over time, the restaurant began to flourish. However, salary issues arose, leading me to decide to quit. I had resolved never to be employed again—I had endured enough. In July, I took the leap and started my own business, “Msoo’s Kitchen,” where I cooked from home and delivered meals to offices in Ngong Road, Westlands, and the CBD.

I’m unsure how it happened, but I believe hard work is rewarded. My business experienced rapid growth, and there were days when I received up to 50 orders. Some offices even contracted me to provide meals for their staff.

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In October 2022, I ventured into the second-hand shoe business and named it “Msoo’s Perfect Fit KE.” This endeavour also gained traction, and I successfully managed both businesses throughout 2022.

Now, in 2023, I’m passionate about starting another new business. Recently, I established a tours and travel company called “Travelearn Tours,” specifically targeting small entrepreneurs. This month, we organized our first road trip, which turned out to be a massive success.

Janei Muthoni advise

One should never despise their humble beginnings or compare themselves to others. It’s crucial to have a plan, work hard, and envision where you want to be. As for me, I haven’t yet reached my desired destination.

I still have so much to accomplish.

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