How we started our corporate gifting business with Sh1 million capital

SIMON MBURU, Satmag, Nation, Louisa Wanjiru Ndathi, Giftcellent Services, Photo | Pool

What you need to know:

Louisa Wanjiru Ndathi is the Managing Director at Giftcellent Services, a gifting service that specialises in crafting and delivering personalised gift hampers to individuals and corporates

This business was the brainchild of one of our partners who suggested that we open a gifting venture. After doing a lot of benchmarking and research we realised that the industry still had a lot of untapped potential and we decided to fully venture into the gifting niche.  We invested a little over a million Kenya shillings at the beginning. In addition to this business, I have been in the Corporate branding industry for almost a decade.

Our research has shown that 70 per cent of the Kenyan workforce feels undervalued and underappreciated by their employers. Most corporates on the other hand waste millions of shillings in gift items that turn out to be of no real meaning or value. We came in with a corporate gifting platform that aimed to bridge this gap by curating meaningful gifts at an affordable cost while boosting our clients’ sales and improving the overall organisational mood. Most corporates we approached immediately bought the idea of employee engagement through gifting. We strive to increase a more human connection between employers and their employees, companies and their clientele through gifting.

When I started this business, I failed to establish a cash buffer during my early years. This made it quite hard for me to meet big orders from customers. From what I have learned, I would resist the urge to scale up too first in the initial phases. I would also stop delivering goods without a guarantee of payment.

Business has its ups and downs. But I would say that getting my first big order was very motivating and affirming. This order was very unexpected given that I was competing against major industry players at the time. I’ve also mentored several women to start small and grow slowly in business and this has been very gratifying.

I am still learning how to save my money and invest properly. I have taken small realistic steps that include conscious spending that is based on a budget and specific money goals. This has compelled me to start living within my means and have the discipline to say no to unnecessary expenditure and impulse purchases.

I have been both employed and in business. In retrospect, I can say that entrepreneurship comes with an edge. I have found it more fulfilling. It has been a learning curve that took me out of my comfort zone.

Always remember why you started! This is a motto that has kept me going whenever I have doubts. I have also learned that in business and life, it is important to realise that true happiness lies within oneself. As such, don’t waste your time and effort searching for peace and contentment out in the wild when you can derive it from the things you love doing.