What you need to know:
They were forced to shut down their business just four months after launching it due to Covid-19.
They talk about the strategy they used to bounce back and what has contributed to the growth of their young business.
As some businesses were closing down due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Joan Kerubo and Kathleen Kemunto were founding their young company, with a dream of one day running a big franchise.
The sisters, 25 and 22 years respectively, co-founded Tern Queen Company in January 2020, which offers cleaning and laundry services in Mombasa and its surroundings.
Miss Kerubo, an accountant, explains that the business idea came about after they observed the huge demand for laundry services in Mtwapa area, which is popular with local and international tourists.
To kick-start their business, the sisters, took a bank loan in September 2019 which they used to buy cleaning machines and rent an office. Come January 2020 however, they still had very few clients, yet were paying rent and servicing a loan.
By March, the situation got worse, bills were piling up, yet the business was not paying. And then Covid-19 was reported in the country, forcing the government to introduce stringent operational guidelines for businesses, restricting travel and instituting curfew.
Mombasa County, like all counties in the country, issued a cessation of movement notice. That effectively took away the only customers they had since most of them came from Nyali and Bamburi and some regions of Mombasa.
“We were devastated, our business was ground to a halt and there was nothing we could do about it,” Ms Kerubo says, explaining that they were forced to close shop and store their cleaning machines in the house.
But the stay at home period turned out to be just the time they needed to learn how their business worked. They watched a variety of tutorials online and researching on similar businesses in Mombasa.
“We were surprised because there were few ventures similar to ours in Mombasa, this encouraged us, sure that we would do well once we returned to business.”
Eventually, Mombasa County reopened its borders and the cessation of movement was lifted. No longer operating blindly, they made a video of them cleaning a seat with one of their machines and posted it on Jiji Kenya, an online enterprise platform.
Almost immediately, they got a call from a client who turned out to be the game changer for their business because it would lead to more than 200 referrals in just a few days.
Not going into specifics, they say that they make enough to enable them support their families, pay bills and save. The company has also grown, and now has a staff of five.