(Beginning this week, we’re featuring a couple of our current AkiraChix training program students, who are dipping their feet into entrepreneurship, thanks to loans from KIVA Zip. Learn more about what businesses they’ve started, and how their lives are being positively impacted)
Janet Alfred, the 22 year old entrepreneur, grew up with a single mother, being the second last born in a family of 6 other boys.
“ Being the only girl was not an advantage or a disadvantage. My mom made sure that she would treat all of us equally well”
The humble background she had did not work against her as she was always top of her class ( or very near the top ) all of her primary and secondary life. Her leadership skills shone through her being the head girl at her primary school and being the class prefect and Christian Union Chairperson in High School.
“ Despite having been a good student and doing fairly well in KCSE, My mother did not have funds to take me to a tertiary institution”
She found herself with a lot of free time on her hands which prompted her to continue with her hobby of playing soccer and baseball. On one of the days when she did not have a tournament, she happened to stumble upon her friend making crafts. She was drawn to this art and began by just passing by there to watch as her friend and her other colleagues made various works of art that included mats.
“ I would just admire them as they made their various works. Observing what they would do day after day made me learn quite quickly how to make them. I began by offering to make mats for my friend. At this point, I was making mats as a pastime to avoid sitting idly at home”
When circumstance made her friend to move away, she was plunged into a situation where she would have to use the expertise gained to make the mats by herself. At this point, she looked at the mat-making craft as a business idea that could be put into practice.
It began with her mother taking notice of her works and marketing her to other moms in area. She would use the proceeds to support her mother since her mom was not gainfully employed.
Right now she ensures that she markets her product by always having a sample with her wherever she goes.
What she believes makes her business unique is the beautiful African theme of the print and the affordability of her wares as compared to other commercially produced mats.
When Janet is not being an entrepreneur, she enjoys reading novels by African writers and playing her favourite sports- soccer and baseball. She makes sure to do Bible study and take part in church activities as she is a staunch believer and attributes where she is to God’s mercies over her life.
“I have always wanted to be a teacher and being in the IT field was something I hadn’t thought of since I viewed it as a male-preserve. I’m glad I was able to meet great women in IT whom I look up to as role models.”
“ Starting and being able to run my own business is nothing short of a huge encouragement to me. It gives me a sense of accomplishment. As I look at my life goals and at the possibility of achieving them through this business I am encouraged to keep going despite the challenges.”
From fluctuating prices of materials to not being able to seamlessly juggle between work duties and classroom responsibilities as a full-time student at Akirachix, Janet experiences a not so smooth ride.
To this she boldly states:
“In life there is nothing that comes easy. You need to struggle. You need to go through the pain that it takes to attain to your goals. You should not give up easily.”
Janet is selling each mat at 2000/= KES. If you’re interested in buying one, please reach out to her via email@example.com.