Success Story: Pauline Waringa- Briquette Entrepreneur

Source: Energia

“I am a mother of 2 grown up boys. I used to work in a curio and artifact shop in Nairobi. Every time I opened the shop I would wish that I had my own business.

I was certain that the skills I had been exposed to would make me some money one day. The first time I decided to get in to business, I started with a meat mincer. The income I got from this would supplement my employment salary and in any case I needed to get my boys through school. I had also learnt to knit floor rags, carpets and mats. I would then seek a market to sell these wares.

I stopped the meat mincing business because I could not fetch as many customers to run it effectively and continued with the rags and a poultry farming. I kept rabbits and chicken. The weather did not favour my poultry business and at one point I had a total loss – 250 chicks from Newcastle disease. I knew I needed a new less risky business. When I finally quit employment and focused on business, I found a good market for my woolen and polyester rags. I made good money from this but it was not to last. Soon, cheap imports from China and other countries began to flood the market.

I found myself begin to struggle. In fact at one point I wanted to quit and seek employment but my father advised me against it. He could see my potential then and I seemed to have been groping in confusion. I was watching TV one evening and I came across an exhibition documentary where an entrepreneur was describing the production of briquettes. I got interested. The man had machines on display and his demonstration seemed to make a lot of sense to me. I decided to visit his exhibition stand at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre in Nairobi to find more about it. I think I was too convinced because I few days later I bought the briquettes making machine; reorganized my compound; and set it up in my homestead.

I knew that briquettes were a great idea and I could see it as a viable business, but I did not know where to sell them. My dad operated a food canteen in the city and he became my first client. He was happy with the product and soon he begun to order briquettes from me.

Later, Practical Action approached me and introduced me to the WEEK project and this seemed to have sealed my passion. They invited me to a training session where I met other entrepreneurs who really built my optimism. I was on to a good thing. Currently, I have a casual who come in twice a week to work with me in the production. I am producing about 300kg every week and I cannot seem to even meet my dad’s weekly demand. I also realize that I have a huge market in my neighborhood, which if the project mentors would support me; I would increase production and deliver huge quantities. I hope to increase my production space and at the same time improve the drying rack as the weather here causes briquettes to dry over a long period of time a long time sometimes affecting my supply times.

I know that I will do better. I am certain that this will be an exciting journey and I will be a confident woman and reach out to what makes me happiest – making everyone satisfied.”