It’s the dream of every woman to become a great example to her family, an exemplary role model to her children and a force to be reckoned with in society, but sometimes unavoidable circumstances happen and these women end up having their voices silenced and their power quieted down.
But once she gets her power back, she becomes a pillar of insight and strength and this is the story of one Magdalene Njoki.
She is one of the beneficiaries and success stories of the first phase of the #2Jiajiri project, a flagship youth empowerment program from the KCB Foundation that is liberating the youth from the expectation of selling their labor to attain the freedom of self-employment. Today, she has beaten the odds of hardly getting by every day to setting up her own domestic cleaning services business and she owes it all to the fact that KCB believed in her.
- Tell us a bit about yourself
I am is a single mother to one child. I also come from a single parent household so I take care of my mother and two siblings alongside the responsibility of my own child.
I am formerly a beneficiary of Plan International, an NGO based in Nairobi and one of their goals is to improve the lives of deprived children by helping them meet their basic needs. My family and I received tremendous help from the NGO and it’s through their partnership with KCB that I got to know about #2Jiajiri and enroll in the program.
2. What led you to start your own business?
I was led to starting my own business after finishing my O level studies in the year 2010 but with the constraints of my background, I couldn’t continue with my education. My only option then was to wash people’s clothes & sometimes their houses as well– and I really liked doing it so I thought that I’d work really hard one day and get to own a cleaning business which thanks to KCB, I do now.
I was enrolled at the Kenya Utalii College. I did Housekeeping and Laundry, a short course that took three months and an internship at the same institution. After I finished, the bank then provided me with the services of a lawyer, accountant, and marketer who have so far helped me establish and market my business.
3. So far, have you seen the vision that you had set out for your business take off?
Yes, I have. In a year I have been able to learn a lot about managing my own business, handling the money I make and still making it home in time to be with my family. In my other jobs I would sometimes work very late without pay but now I have control over my schedule and I can comfortably take care of my family by doing what I love.
4. What makes your services stand out from what you were doing before?
The skills we learned through the program have really helped me in doing my business well because I had only started with washing people’s clothes. Through the training, I learned how to use equipment that I had never handled in my life like steam carpet cleaners and now I can clean someone’s house or office with this equipment with a lot of ease.
Also, the bank loaned me a van – which has been branded with my picture and the type of services I provide which helps me to move around easily and market my business as well.
5. How many clients and orders do you get in a day/week/month?
At the moment I’m working for three offices where the schedules vary either from cleaning daily to three times a week.
6. Do you have anyone else helping you in your business?
I have currently employed one permanent worker and three others who I seek their services from time to time.
7. What motivates you?
I would say the joy that my family now has. Before I had my business we used to struggle to get by. The pay was very low and I didn’t like seeing them suffer. Now we can live comfortable lives and that warms my heart every day.
8. Describe to us your typical day of work.
Depending on the day of the week, sometimes I’m up as early as 5 a.m. to clean the offices before the staff arrives so that we don’t disturb them. Other days we clean after office hours so that gives me time to visit my other clients who need cleaning services in their homes.
I also sometimes get impromptu calls because of the feedback from my clients to other people so I make time to go see them as well.
9. What are some of the biggest and most memorable moments of your life so far?
Getting the chance to prove my potential via 2Jiajiri is my biggest so far. I always knew that I would achieve my dream of owning my business and I’m glad that despite my background, KCB believed in me and helped me see it through.
10. What would you tell other women out there who are struggling with the decision of starting their own business?
You have to believe in yourself. As women, we have to fight twice as hard in this society but we have the capability to do it. At the end of the day, even when it seems that everyone is against you, there’s always someone who believes in you and that is yourself. So make yourself proud!