To many university graduates, working in a bank is considered a lucrative career, but for Muchiri Mwangi, 32, an accountant by profession, the job was not as rewarding as he had anticipated.
After his course in accounting, he got a well paying job with Equity Bank, Nyeri branch only to opt out five years later.
Currently, he brands cars and buildings, a job he finds more rewarding and satisfying since he is able to give back to the community by training youth in his workshop.
The father-of-one also travels around the country branding government, co-operate offices as well as personal vehicles.
“I have never missed out on any job offer due to lack of capital, the Youth Fund has been financing my tenders. So long as I am within the Youth Fund policies, every purchase order I sign gets bankrolled and that is how I have been able to grow my Tropical Signs Services business,” said Mr Mwangi.
Mr Mwangi boasts of having branded major offices in Nyeri town, including the regional offices of the Kenya Revenue Authority, regional audit office, county children’s department offices, the Women Enterprise Fund offices among others.
His friends refer to him as a humble and a kind man but he describes himself as a hustler whose struggles in life have given him the guts to make hard decisions.
But behind his success story lies a past that Mr Mwangi is yet to heal from. He was brought up in a poverty stricken family.
“My father was ever drunk. Every morning, illicit brewers used to compete against each other to bring home 10-15 litres of matinga — a local brew,” Mr Mwangi told Money.
And as fate would have it, his father died when he was in Form Two at Jumbi High School, in Mathioya, Murang’a County.
This forced him to drop out of school but luckily five months later, his mother and his uncle enrolled him at a local day secondary school.
After writing his Form Four exams in 2003, the entrepreneurial bug bit him as he hit the road running, selling vegetables at Makuyu market, in Murang’a, where he saved enough to enrol for Certified Public Accountant (CPA) course at KCA University in Nairobi.
But during his stay at Mathare, in Nairobi, he turned into hawking bananas. He also tried his hand in touting.
“Life was tough, at some point my banana hawking business stopped fetching me enough to survive. Becoming a tout was the only option I could think of,” he said.
Being a short man amongst his peers, however, Mr Mwangi was harassed quite often until he thought of going back home.
“I did not finish my CPA classes. The allure for making money was stronger than my desire to complete the course,” he said.
Luckily, a few months after going back to his vegetables business, he got an offer to teach accounts and two years later, Equity Bank hired him as a credit officer only to quit the job after five years.
“I started selling branded t-shirts each at Sh500 and within a short time, I set up a shop in Nyeri town,” said Mr Mwangi.
After a while the idea of expanding my business hit me but I was lacking something, a cutting plotter machine.
“By then, I had one child. A relative asked me what I needed to establish a bigger enterprise. I narrated to him how I badly needed the cutting plotter machine. That marked the beginning of my success story,” he added.
Mr Mwangi says he does not take alcohol owing to the emotional scar that his late father left engraved in him when he was about to be initiated into adulthood.
“My father could not raise enough money to cater for my circumcision since all his cash were spent on his drinking spree. I decided to cater for my circumcision fee by making charcoal from one of my father’s avocado trees without his consent,” said Mr Mwangi.
The tree produced 16 bags of charcoal which Mr Mwangi sold at Sh400 each.
Mr Mwangi, who terms his earnings as modest, has played the role of a father to his three siblings and says his best moments in life are when he trains a fellow youth on how to brand.
“Two of my siblings are already employed while our last born is pursuing a degree in engineering,” said Mr Mwangi.
Mr Mwangi advises young people not to give up in their quest for a better life.