Band quits making music and starts washing cars

One of the band members cleans a car at their car wash in Nakuru town.

Photo credit: Richard Maosi | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • When the first case of Covid-19 was reported in the country, government imposed measures dealt a huge blow to the Nakuru-based band.

  • In a bid to find a way out, the group came together and brainstormed on ideas of generating income and settled on starting a car wash business.

About three years ago, Mr Prince Komen, 28, wouldn’t have contemplated that he would one day wash cars to survive.

After graduating in 2017 from the Cooperative University, he hoped to get a well-paying white collar job in one of the big financial institutions in the country.

Having pursued a degree in banking and finance, he sent his application letters to almost every financial institution he knew of.

However, he received no positive feedback from the institutions, something which made him decide to change his strategy.

He successfully applied for an internship to try and get some experience in the field as he waited for a job opening.

Three months later, the internship period lapsed and the company could not absorb him since there was no vacancy.

Months of waiting turned into a year and still there was no sign of getting employment.

He decided to exploit his singing talent and joined one of the bands in Nakuru called the Nakuru Christian Centre band.

The band turned out to be his saving grace as it was involved in a number of income-generating activities, including organising events, and performing at social gatherings.

“Without any source of income, I was unable to pay my bills and even sustain myself, but after joining the band, I could earn something small from its activities,” said Mr Komen.

By last year, he had become a key member of the band and was assured of earning some money to sustain himself.

But this only lasted until March 2020 when the first case of Covid-19 was reported in the country and the government imposed measures to prevent its spread.

Huge blow on band

The measures, including the banning of social gatherings, dealt a huge blow to them as their business model depended on events and social meetings.

He, together with other band members, found it very tough to survive during the period when the country was placed on lockdown.

“We could no longer perform in any event and life changed drastically for those of us who solely depended on the activities of the band. We could not pay rent, buy food or pay for our expenses,” said Mr Komen.

In a bid to find a way out, the group came together and brainstormed on ideas of generating income.

And this is how the idea of starting a car wash was fronted. The band of 30 members mobilised funds to establish the car wash.

By the end of March, the business was up and running. Mr Komen says it began on a low note, but has been picking up gradually.

“I am happy now that I can earn between Sh300 and Sh400 per day which can sustain me for the period,” he said.

Mr Emanuel Simiyu, the band leader and the project manager, said the idea to set up a car wash was unanimously adopted because it did not need much expertise and skills.

He said he approached the church leadership for assistance and was allowed to set up their business on a part of the church’s land next to the road at Freehold Estate in Nakuru town.

After buying a washing machine, water tanks, pipes and setting up a shade, they went into business.

The business is fully run by the members and who work in shifts.

Mr Simiyu said they also used part of the land to grow flowers and lawns for the purpose of hiring it for events.

The band, according to Mr Simiyu, earns between Sh10,000 and Sh15,000 per day, which they share among themselves.

“We use the surplus to buy food for other youth in the church whose sources of income were affected by the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Mr Simiyu.