Can you imagine an M-Pesa business line that moves billions of money every year? Well, this is not fiction, but the true story of James Wababu Kiragu, whose M-Pesa agency is renowned for having moved Sh. 1.3 billion in the first quarter of 2012, and Sh. 400 million every month by year 2017! But how did he start?
After graduating in 1987, Julius Wababu Kiragu started his career as a teacher. Meanwhile, he was running two side businesses: a butchery and a bureau for printing and photocopying services on Government Road in Nakuru. He closed down the butchery as the bureau performed well with a few challenges.
“I had an issue with one of the copiers. A friend suggested getting me a new one from Dubai at a reasonable cost. The idea baffled me and that is how I got to travel to Dubai and started supplying other businesses with toners, photocopying machines and scanners.”
But that was not all. The bureau opened another door of opportunity. “I was at the bureau and a young man wearing a Safaricom T-shirt visited. He informed us about M-Pesa, a new product in the market and asked us to register considering our prime location.”
Mr Kiragu bought the idea and started off with Sh30,000 as a sub-agent.
“The demand for M-Pesa services grew and I stopped my travel to focus on M-Pesa,” he recalls.
Several years into mobile money business, Mr Kiragu quit his job to concentrate on the M-Pesa business. In 2008, he opened three more outlets.
To have a structured business, Wababu formed a company known as Wabcom Technologies with his wife, who at the time worked at the National Social Security Fund (NSSF). He approached banks for short term loans to manage his float.
He earned trust from KCB who would give him float on credit with Safaricom acting as a guarantor. Equity, a bank he had been banking with also came knocking offering support.
In 2010, he made his break through after getting a chance to run M-Pesa shops in all Tuskys Supermarkets’ premises. Currently, he serves 48 Tuskys outlets. He also uses the Safaricom aggregator module – a sub agency system that authorises over 100 M-Pesa operators to use his name and incentives and then share out commission earned.
“We realised we cannot grow and manage shops in the interior as well. And for us to grow and remain effective we entered an agreement with small shops where they get the capital and location but we manage the shops for them. Here they enjoy our strength in case of float since most of their outlets are withdrawal centres compared to those in urban centres where it is deposit.”
In the first quarter of 2012, Wababu’s Mpesa business had grown that he moved Sh.1.3 billion in the first three months of this year.
By the year 2017, he was moving over Sh. 400 million monthly. This saw Wababu start a financial sacco which provides loans to his employees.