The bustling streets of Nyeri town is where Humphrey Mugo established his laundry business. It’s a nice, quaint place filled with stacks and stacks of clothes from his loyal customers. He smiles warmly as we kick off our interview and he walks me through his journey.
Naitwa Humphrey Mugo. Nafanya kazi ya laundry hapa Kimathi lane next to Kungumaitu. Hii biashara kulingana na venye iko ni ya kuachiwa. Nilipata kama babangu ameifungua 1962. Tukaendelea na yeye hadi 1998 pale Luthuli Avenue. Hapa ndipo tulihamia Nyeri. My name is Humphrey Mugo. I run a laundry business here at Kimathi lane next to Kungumaitu. This business, as you see it, was left to me. I believe my father first opened his shop in 1962 in Nairobi, Luthuli Avenue where we worked together till 1998 which is when we relocated to Nyeri.
For a family-owned business such as this, we had to wonder what led them to shift their business to Nyeri.
“We left Nairobi because the plot-owners told us they were reclaiming their property. We had no choice. Hatungekatalia ploti za wenyewe.”
Determined to keep the business running, they relocated to Nyeri, with their vision still clear and hopes for their business soaring. Calamities however struck once again in the year 2007 when Humphrey’s father sadly passed away.
Kwa kweli, kupoteza mzazi ni ngumu, na pia mimi niliona vile babangu ameaga, hiyo itakuwa mwisho. Lakini nikajiuliza tulilelewa na hiyo kazi, tulisomeshwa na hii kazi. Alikuwa director na me manager. I learnt how to run this business from him kwa hivyo vile aliaga sikushindwa na biashara. I just wished I could have had more time with him. Losing a parent isn’t easy and when my father passed on, I thought it was the end for me but I asked myself, isn’t this the same business he relied on to raise us and take us to school? He was the director and I was the manager. I’ve learnt how to run this business from him so I decided not to accept defeat. I just wished I could have had more time with him.
After a short moment, Mr. Mugo proceeded to talk about the rest of his journey.
Business even when he worked with his late dad still had its challenges. When they relocated to Nyeri, they had to start all over again. It’s a different environment from Nairobi and they had to build their customer base from scratch. Their marketing tactic was simple but smart.
“Tuliambia watu walete shati tatu-tatu tuwaoshee hata bila malipo. Ikawapendeza.Kuna customer tumekuwa nao kutoka 2002.”
"We asked people to bring their shirts to us and we cleaned them for free. They liked it! There are even customers who’ve been with us since 2002.“
You can tell by the look in his eyes that he’s proud of how far he’s taken the business. The more his customer base grew, the more capital he needed. That’s where 4G Capital came in.
Mwalimu wangu anaitwa John alipitia kwangu akaniambia mambo wako nayo, na vile wao ni wale wa kuinua wale watu wadogo na kwa vile nilikuwa mmoja wa wao watu wadogo, nikaona iko mzuri nikaanza na 5000 ikafika 11000 mpaka nikafika 26,000 na sijawahi shindwa kulipa. One of your representatives named John visited my business and told me about your offering. He said that you help business owners like me grow. That’s when I borrowed my first KSh. 5,000 which grew to KSh. 11,000 and now I’m at KSh. 26,000 and I’ve never been unable to pay.
Humphrey now has one employee and cleans up to 100 shirts a day!
This is his advise to other business owners:
Kupata customer lazima ujiuze. Huwezi fungua biashara leo ukifikiria the next month itakuwa imeshoot. Kuna nyumba, na mwenye nyumba anahitaji rent yake. Ensure uko na rent ya miezi tatu na mishahara ya miezi miwili. Ndio uwe safe. To get customers, you need to market yourself well. You shouldn’t assume that when you open a business, it will shoot by the next month. Remember you also need to plan for your rent. Ensure you have about three months worth of rent and two months worth of salaries just so you’re safe.
…and there we have it! The story of Humphrey Mugo, who after so brilliantly filling his father’s shoes would like to expand their business further as he takes care of his family.
We wish you the very best Mr. Mugo!