How I cracked the mitumba importation business at Gikomba

Jane Kangethe Wamuyu, the founder and managing director of Best Mitumba Bale's Ltd, a company that deals with wholesale and retail mitumba bale's at Gikomba. Photo | Pool

What you need to know:

Mitumba is a profitable business, but it is not for the faint-hearted.

Jane Kangethe Wamuyu is the founder and managing director of Best Mitumba Bale's Ltd, a company that deals with wholesale and retail mitumba bale's at Gikomba


More than 70 percent of my clients have never interacted with me face to face. Our sales and business dealings have been through social media. This has been efficient on my side as I have been able to organise what needs to be shipped to which location across the country and ensure that my 24-hour delivery promise is maintained.


I started this business seven years ago. I started with Sh50,000. It was a step of faith since I had resigned from a formal job. It took me over two years to break even. I found that this type of business was capital intensive and I had challenges with operating capital. I also found out that this business is male-dominated. When I started out, I had to carry my own bales during delivery to my shop. This was not a walk in the park at all.


Covid-19 really hit us hard. The ban on importation of mitumba was very severe on us. We went for several months without opening our business. The cost of importation of Mitumba was also very high. My employees went for months without work, and at some point, we had to figure out how to share the cost of their basic bills. I am glad that things are looking up again.


Over the time that I have been running this business, I have come to learn that separating business and personal money is not always easy. It requires very disciplined bookkeeping and financial planning, because the temptation to dip into business funds just because you can, is huge. 


I have managed to grow from a small shop to four brancheswith importation and delivery subsidiaries in East Africa. In 2021, I was awarded the ‘FOYA AWARDS Founder of the Year Over 30 Africa’ award. This was a humbling vindication that I am in the right business and my efforts are making an impact.   


I set myself goals and dedicated savings towards them. I have also created a reserve account so that all the net profits the business makes are separated from the principal. That way, the principal is safe, while the net profits can be reinvested into the business.


The mitumba business is sometimes a cut-throat business and rivalry can be gruesome. I remember one incident where my competitors ganged up to taint my brand. However, this tactic did not work as my clients were able to vouch for my case. This taught me why it is important to have a good relationship with your clients. 


Yes, mitumba is a profitable business, but it is not for the faint-hearted. In everything you do, put God first. Great people are molded out of adversities and not comfort. Go out there and work hard, be smart, and be consistent.


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