“We’re sorry but your job has come to an end.” Mark read that line on the email he had received earlier in the morning about 50 times.
The job he had dedicated 10 years of his life and sacrificed time with his family was over. He never expected that such a day would come yet he wasn’t worried. A month prior to the job loss, Mark was part of a group of employees who had been accused of stealing from the company.
“We have information that you had something to do with the Ksh 60 million that went missing from our accounts.” One of the financial managers said to Mark.
“I didn’t even know that such a thing had happened.” Mark tried to defend himself.
“We will put you on an indefinite leave as we carry out investigations.” The man said and dismissed Mark.
Before leaving the office, he looked around at the place he had spent most of his time in. It looked like a prison with bland grey walls and a sole ticking clock. He remembered how the sound of the clock used to irritate him when he was working in the dead of the night. He couldn’t help but smile as he packed his belongings which his colleagues found very strange.
“What has happened?” They asked.
“I got suspended because of some missing money.”
Everyone let out a loud gasp. Mark was the last person anyone would accuse of stealing from the company. His suspension was a wake-up call that any of them could be next. Sure enough, ten other employees were suspended due to the theft but the company still didn’t know who had done it for sure.
During the month that Mark was on indefinite leave, he completely switched off from work and spent all his time at home patiently waiting for a call back about the investigation.
“Everything will be fine. Don’t worry.” His wife comforted him.
“I’m not worried. I just want to clear my name.”
“It doesn’t matter what anyone says. I know you’re innocent.”
These words snapped him back to reality. Though he had put his work before his family, they still stood by him. He resolved that no matter what happened, he would focus more on his family.
A week later, he received the fateful email informing him that he had been fired from the job since he was suspected of stealing from the company.
He went to his home bar, calmly poured himself a glass of whiskey, then went back to the living room and turned on the TV to watch the news as he usually did. However, his calm demeanour was beginning to crack. He didn’t take a single sip from the glass or pay attention to the TV. His thoughts were racing and tempers were rising. He squeezed the glass so hard that it broke, slipping whiskey on the carpet and cutting Mark’s hand.
“Why?” He yelled but no one was there to answer him.
After he calmed down, he called one of his colleagues to enquire if he had suffered the same fate.
“Did you get an email from work?” He asked.
“Yes, I have. They fired me.” His friend was more emotional than him and broke down in tears.
“We’ll be alright,” Mark said.
At 35 years old, he had lost a promising job and his whole career had been destroyed due to the accusations against him. He thought about suing the company but he knew it would cost him nearly all his savings and might not end well. So, he had to come up with a different plan.
Out of the 10 employees who had been accused of stealing from the company, 6 of them had lost their job. Mark reached out to each of them and asked to meet. During the meeting, he proposed that they start a business together.
“This experience has taught me that a job can end at any time and I don’t want to go through this again. We were all employed for many years and have our savings. Let’s invest somewhere.” He said.
“What do you have in mind?” One of them asked.
“I have been eyeing a certain space which I think will be perfect for a grill spot. As you know I have been barbequing meat for you guys for ages and everyone loves my nyama choma. Guys are always asking me if I can be making some to sell. I think with our combined expertise we can create a great spot that can bring us some good money.”
The suggestion wasn’t met with as much enthusiasm as Mark hoped. However, he believed in his business idea and he was going to go through with it whether the other guys were on board or not.
The only person who seemed to be interested in the idea was Kevin, the first guy he called when he found out he had lost his job. He had been a good friend throughout the challenging time and the two leaned on each other for support.
“I think you have a great idea.” He said.
“Yes, but I needed the other guys to be on board as well.”
“What if we ask our spouses?” Kevin suggested.
Mark hadn’t considered asking their spouses to join in the business but it sounded like a good idea. Additionally, he liked that the business would be a family business. The only problem was he was so used to being the breadwinner that asking his wife for financial help felt unnatural. However, she had proved that she loved him regardless of his financial situation during the past months.
That night, he treated her to a romantic dinner as a way to show his appreciation and to break the news to her.
“We need at least Ksh 700,000 to set up the space.” He said to her.
“That’s a lot. How much do you have?”
“We have about Ksh. 200,000.”
“I can get Ksh 500,000 from my Sacco.” She said without hesitating.
Mark had tried to put on a strong front throughout the challenging times but his wife’s kind gesture got to him. He broke down in tears in front of other diners at the restaurant and it took his wife a few minutes to calm him down.
“You’ve been such a blessing in my life.” He said while the two embraced.
Kevin’s wife also contributed and the two men were able to establish the business.
It was around 11 am in the morning and the house was empty. His wife had taken the kids to school and gone to work. Mark went through the day’s to-do list as he enjoyed the breakfast that his wife had prepared. He had only one job for the day yet his heart couldn’t stop racing.
“Is everything okay?”
“Everything is okay, Mark. You were here yesterday.” Kevin responded.
The duo was about to launch the business they had been working on for 4 months in less than 5 hours. Kevin was in charge of coordinating the event while Mark made sure that people showed up. More than 100 people had confirmed their attendance including the area’s MCA. A promise of free nyama choma (roast meat) was guaranteed to attract more people.
Still, Mark couldn’t keep calm. He watched as the hours passed by and the launch time neared. At around 3 pm, he started preparing to head to the venue. He wore a navy blue suit that his white had picked out for him. However, after inspecting himself in the mirror l, he decided to change into a pair of jeans and a white T-shirt.
“I’m on my way.” He said to Kevin over the phone.
“Okay. I’m already there. Everything looks so good.” He replied excitedly.
When Mark got to the venue, he couldn’t believe his eyes. The decoration looked better than he expected. He walked past the red ribbon tied to the entrance and went in to look around at their hard work. He had seen it every day since they started working on the place but it still looked new to him. Kevin joined him as he admired the eatery.
“Are you ready?” He asked Mark.
“We should go and start preparing to receive the guests.”
Their wives joined them shortly after to help them make the final touches and make sure everything went well. People started coming right on time and within 30 minutes, the parking was filled. Once the MCA arrived, Mark and Kevi made a short speech then officially cut the ribbon and opened the doors to their new business.
As he looked at everyone laughing heartily and enjoying the meat, he finally breathed a sigh of relief and joined in the enjoyment. The day went flawlessly just as they had hoped which motivated them to put all their efforts into the business.
“This is one job I will never get tired of,” Mark said to Kevin as they closed up the business.
“We really did it,” Mark said with a huge smile on his face.
Though they had a successful launch, the real test was ahead of them. Would they be able to make a profit and keep the business afloat?
The grill spot was the new talk of the town. It attracted people of all ages who gathered at the cosy place to wind down after a long day. In the first month, the business made double the expected profits and it was all thanks to their good reputation.
They not only served high-quality food but also the service was exceptional. Mark and Kevin went out of their way to ensure all their guests were well taken care of.
Slowly, they expanded the space to accommodate more people and provide more entertainment. They added a gaming space which attracted the younger generation and soon, the grill spit was known as the hottest place to be.
“Can you believe barely a year ago, we were out of a job and weren’t sure how we would survive?” Mark said to Kevin as they lounged in their luxurious office.
“I know. Life really has a funny way of guiding you to your destination. If we didn’t lose that job we wouldn’t have started this business.”
“For sure. I wonder what happened to that company.”
“I heard it declared bankruptcy. The top executives were the ones who were stealing the money and the company only realized when it was too late.”
“Anyway, that’s not our problem anymore. We have our own business to worry about.” Mark said.
“What do you think about expanding the business?” Kevin asked. He was always the one looking for new opportunities.
“We just added the gaming section.” Mark protested.
“I mean doing something completely new. Why don’t we start a tours and travel club?”
It was an absurd idea and completely out of their comfort zone but Mark liked it. Their biggest risks had paid off in the past.
“I’ll consider it.” He said.
The following day, Mark came to their business with a change of heart.
“Let’s do it!” He shouted in excitement and they got to work immediately.
“We really have the best job,” Mark said as they worked on the business plan.
After a few months, the two friends launched the new business and it was an instant hit just like the previous one. Their loyal customers supported them for years and made their business highly successful.
They were known not only in their area but also all over the country as the best tour company. Despite their success, the duo were very honest about their humble beginnings which made their success story even more special.
They became an inspiration not only to the young people who knew about them but also to their friends who had refused to start a business with them and instead went back to employment. While the duo basked in millions, their friends had to go to a job that they hated.
“I hate to say I told you so but I told you so.” Mark joked as the group of friends enjoyed their drinks at the famous grill spot.
“We should have listened to you.”
“It’s never too late. You can start something just like we did.” Mark said as he reached for another piece of delicious nyama choma.
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