With various factors driving up the cost of living, many people have found it difficult to depend on the monthly pay cheque from employment to cater for their needs and wants.
As a result, part-time businesses — commonly referred to as side hustles — have become a common phenomenon among the working class.
And for many, these businesses serve as the first step and an efficient way to transit into fulltime personal enterprise, since development is gradual and eventually demands full commitment of one’s time and resources.
Many people aspire to build strong businesses that can support their livelihoods.
However, the mindset of “all or nothing” has led many people to shy away from dropping their regular end-month salary to concentrate on building their own business.
But the following enterprising young people have found an easier way to do it.
They have proved that nurturing your small business in your spare time helps it to eventually grow and mature into a fulltime engagement.
In the meantime, it will provide that much needed extra money.
The 23-year-old is a Third Year computer science student at the Istanbul Technical University in Turkey.
Through a government programme, he got a scholarship for his undergraduate degree.
Having spent his first year in college learning Turkish, he has now mastered the basics of the language and can write and speak it.
Mr Kariuki attended primary and secondary education in Kenya, so he has a good command of English.
When he is not attending lectures, he exploits his knowledge of English and Turkish to provide translation services at business conferences and school forums.
“The best time is during summer when school breaks for the long holidays. During this time, I do all sorts of things, including providing African entertainment in tourist hotels. The returns are handsome,” he says.
Depending on the contractor, he can make up to Sh17,000 on a good day interpreting or translating from one language to the other. This has become his main means of survival and helps to cater for his needs on campus.
His family organised a funds drive to raise money for his air ticket. This has motivated him to search for profitable activities in Turkey, besides attending school.
“Life is expensive out there, but I knew I had to survive. This meant that I get something that can earn enough money,” said Mr Kariuki, who is currently in Kenya on holiday.
He hopes to build a name in the business so that even high profile customers from the government and non-governmental organisations can give him contracts.
This, he says, will enable him to pay his bills comfortably and send assistance back home.
After graduating with a degree in information technology from the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Mr Limo got a job as an IT expert at a local shop.
Two years into the job, he realised that he was doing everything — from sourcing customers to listening to their problems and creating solutions for them — but he was getting only a small fraction of the payment.
“I decided to start my own business where, even if I did all the work, I would get all the pay,” he says.
The business had to be in software development since it was his area of interest and he found it easy to do and get customers.
During his third year in employment, he had many customers and decided to quit his day job to concentrate on his side business.
“I was making over 50 per cent of the total money I was earning from my side venture. This motivated me to give it my best shot,” he says.
That way, he was sure that even if the money he was getting was not equal to his previous salary, his business was growing and would mature into an empire.
Today, he is fulltime in business. His firm serves more than 30 companies and individual clients, and he sees the potential for growth as unlimited.
Software development, website hosting, computer and accessories sales are some of the services his company, Infotrack Strategic Solutions Ltd, offers.
In 2010, the company benefited from a grant from the Kenya ICT Board’s Tandaa programme. It enabled the firm to develop a service portal for the Teachers Service Commission.
Tandaa aims to help start-ups develop local content as the country moves towards the digital era.
Mr Limo made his first big profit — Sh600,000 — from one project and more clients have gained confidence in him.
Last year, his company had an annual turnover of over Sh1.5 million and is counting on improved Internet infrastructure to see his business grow.
“Side businesses are important since they give you a peep into how to run a venture without necessarily focusing all your efforts on it.
“The day job acts as insurance to the small business in that, if it fails, your life will not be disrupted,” he said.
Between 9am and 5pm, Mr Kagiri is a public relations officer at the National Council of Churches of Kenya.
A communication graduate from the University of Nairobi, he has worked as a radio journalist, an experience he now employs to drive his side business.
In his spare time, he writes or thinks up ideas to develop for his marriage counsellor column in a local daily paper.
Apart from the column, Mr Kagiri and his wife Grace are common guest speakers at social forums during weekends. They specialise in social issues such as love and relationships.
“The desire to make extra money motivates most of us to have side businesses,” he says.
He also runs a regularly updated blog page, www.kagiriwaithera.co.ke, where advertisers pay up to Sh10,000 a month to buy space.
“I started it as a hobby over a year ago, but it has grown into a business whose benefits I am harnessing,” he says.
In a good month, the business helps him make up to 50 per cent of his formal employment salary.
He is now in the process of registering a communications company, which he hopes will grow into a fulltime business.