For Samwel Muna, starting a business was a matter of survival. He needed to help raise money for his own school fees as well as help his mum in fending for the family. His entrepreneurial journey began in 1995 while he as a Form Two student at Nakuru Day secondary school.
“My elder sister gave me a loan of Sh3,000. I spent half of the money to buy the shaving machine. The rest went to rent and getting some seats and mirror for my customers.”
Samuel operated the shop in the evening after school and work for a whole day over the weekends.
“I used the little money I got from the barber shop to pay my school fees as well buy learning materials.”
Driven by determination, the young entrepreneur worked just as hard in school. When the KCSE results were released, he passed and got admitted at Egerton University to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree course in Economics and Sociology.
“I was going to study on campus so I trained an employee to run the barbershop while I was away. When I arrived in Njoro campus, I quickly saw a business opportunity to sell clothes. Without wasting any time, I started my second business.” Samwel got these trendy second hand clothes from an aunt who had a shop in town and he would sell them to fellow students for a small profit. Whenever they closed for long holiday, he joined his aunt and hawked clothes in Nakuru town.
“The clothes business became so profitable that I decided to close down the barber shop and concentrate on clothes.”
Shortly after the hawking got steady, Samwel decide to level up and began getting stock from Eastleigh in Nairobi. The business flourished. “I was in my second year of school and business was doing really well. I decided to marry a girl I had fallen in love with. By this time I could afford to rent a shop, so I got one and my wife ran it.”
By the time he was graduating, Samwel had advanced his business and had already made a name as the sole seller of lab coats to science students.
“I did not make any job application to seek employment because I was keen on expanding my business.”
From the profits he made, Samwel saved enough money to start importing the clothes from Uganda. “Over the next two years, I opened a shop in Nakuru town. I also started importing clothes from Dubai and Turkey.”
A pleasant coincidence
It is after one of these trips overseers that he stumbled upon the next entrepreneurial venture.
He saw a beautiful wall unit in Dubai and bought it for Sh6,000. When he brought it home, he realised it couldn’t fit as the house was too small. He decided to bring the wall unit to his shop for storage and get it back once they moved to a bigger house.
“When customers visited the shop and saw the wall unit, they marvelled at it and offered to buy it. I had no intention of selling it but when one customer offered me Sh45,000 for the commodity I could not resist.”.
Other customers who had seen the wall unit requested him to bring them similar pieces. Just like that, Samwel’s furniture business was born.
“When the demand for the furniture increased, I discovered that a lucrative business opportunity was knocking on my door. At first, I imported per order received. I made enough money to give me the confidence of staring a furniture business.” In 2006, Samwel opened his first showroom Victory Furniture in Nakuru town where he sold all kinds of office and household furniture and interior décor.
His first biggest clients were supermarkets in the town to whom he supplied the equipment.
“More clients joined in the demand which saw the furniture business grow at a very high rate. I decided to expand my shop in Nakuru and also open more branches in Kisumu and Nairobi in a bid to grow my brand.”
Samuel describes himself as a designer and creative businessman who is able to read the market demands as operate in turbulent business environments.
This is the reason he decided to venture into the hotel industry in a bid to diversify his business.
In October 2020 he opened doors to his first hotel Vicmac hotel right at the heart of Nakuru town.
Through his businesses, Samwel has created employment for more than 300 people. He owns some of the big commercial buildings in Nakuru town, a sign of fortunes reaped from his successful venture.
“The success of my business is as a result of prudent financial management and flexibility in switching gears based on the current market demands.”
According to Samwel, Covid19 pandemic has been one of the toughest tests in his business career. However, he remains resilient and keen to keep going.
“Anyone who wants to excel in business must believe in God and themselves first, know how to handle the challenges and be ready to take risks”.