How women balance career and motherhood

Saturday June 15 2019

entrepreneurship

Lydia Chepkwony, an entrepreneur, at the Nation Center on June 12, 2019 for an interview. She sells inorganic products. PHOTO | KANYIRI WAHITO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

LILYS NJERU
By LILYS NJERU
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Out here, there are tens of women having more than one job.

On one hand, there are those who have multiple talents and desire to tap into them. Then there is a rising number of women who take up extra jobs to supplement their income. Here is how they juggle their primary jobs, side hustles and motherhood.

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Millicent Ntinyari; she is in her late twenties.

A flight attendant, who also works as a part time taxi driver and runs a photography production and online clothing store businesses.

“Since secondary school, I had this passion of becoming a journalist. It is a field that I wanted to study, but with the many responsibilities at hand — I have two younger siblings and a three-year-old dependent on me — I knew it would not be possible to finance myself through the course. So, I decided to diversify my sources of income,” she says.

Every morning, Millicent drives to her workplace, a domestic flight airline where she works as a flight attendant, and on occasional basis as a check-in ground handling personnel.

In the afternoon, she drives out to start the online taxi hailing hustle before heading to Daystar University, where she is a third-year student taking a bachelor’s degree in Communication.

"At the airline, we work in shifts. Thankfully, my employer allowed me to work during the morning shifts, which enables me to balance work and my side hustles.

A typical work day for me starts at 04.30am when I get to work and ends around 11.45pm during the low season and 1pm in the high season. I observed that I would remain with a lot of free time in between end of shift and classes.

STRENGTHS

I wanted to do more with these hours and that is how I got into taxi business and expanded the photography production business in 2017.

I established the clothing business in 2018 and encouraged my sister to take up more responsibilities with it, so I now only assist in doing deliveries when necessary, customer service and social media marketing as these are some of my strengths.

Then when it is time for class at 5.30pm, I head to school. If I leave class on time, I do one or two rounds of taxi — driving is like a relaxation therapy for me.

The rest of the time is for bonding with my three-year-old baby, and more so on weekends when I do not do taxi business or deliveries after my duty at work. Before I started the taxi hustle, I used to sell cereals to my colleagues," she says.

DETRACTORS

When she took up these side hustles, the move was met with resistance from some of her friends, saying she was taking too much on her hands and she could not handle it. She proved them wrong.

"I decided to turn a deaf ear and focus on my hustles. What I have had to sacrifice is my social life because I do not have much time to hang out. Then, when people see me do all these stuff, they think of me as a very strong person, which is quite an obstacle when I need someone to lean on.

Nevertheless, I am happy that I can provide for my family and meet other needs such as school fees."

Advice: Taking up more than one job is not an easy task. It takes a lot of determination, sacrifice and input. It requires making a clear vision and goal.

You will meet individuals who are jealous of your progress, and they will want to deter you, but do not be discouraged. In addition, there are several income streams that women can take advantage of; and social media has made it extremely easy to sell anything online. There is a wide market, and you do not need a physical shop to start.

Lastly, time management is very important. You can do an eight to five job and still manage a side hustle like baking or making snacks and delivering them.

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Linda Chepkwony; she is in her late twenties

She runs a private company, where she manufactures organic products. She also cooks various delicacies and delivers within her estate.

“In 2017, after many months of unsuccessful job search, I decided to venture into entrepreneurship. Before that, I had dropped out of university because of lack of school fees; and I needed the financial freedom that comes with being your own boss,” she offers.

Linda, a mother of one, runs a private company that supplies to the government under the 30 per cent procurement opportunities for youth.

She also manufactures organic peanut butter and packages organic honey, weight loss and Detox Tea's, herbs/spices as well as natural soaps and face mask powders.

Besides this, she frequently exports her products to the United States under African Growth Opportunities Act (Agoa) pact and offers consultancy services on the same. In addition, she is a home-based chef.

"When I started juggling all these roles, I had to come up with a good strategy and train myself on good time management and personal relation skills. For instance, if I am engaged in a particular errand, I let my customers know prior so that I do not inconvenience them.

"I also have a good support system, from my immediate family and friends. However, it was not easy at the start because I did not have much start-up capital, and I had conflicting ideas on what businesses to launch," she says.

OPEN-MINDED

Happy that being her own boss makes things a little bit fluid, Linda, however, warns that the cost of establishing and running a business is quite high and demanding.

Friends, she says, can also bring the various hustles to the knee, especially if they keep getting your products or services on credit.

Advice: You need to be well-prepared and know what you are getting yourself into. It is also key to have people around you who can take care of the various businesses when you need a break and time to rejuvenate. Importantly, be ready to learn as every day is a learning experience for business people.

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Dorcas Wanjiku; she is in her thirties

She is an administrator, a freelance writer and a business-person selling leather made belts and wallets.

She says: "For more than five years, I earned less than Sh10,000 a month. I remember that in 2009 I used to work in a particular hotel in town where I was earning Sh250 daily. I would report at 5am and leave at 10pm.

In 2016, I got into freelance writing and enrolled for a course at United States International University. I took one hustle after the other and got into a work study programme with the institution.

I would go to school during the day, which entailed attending classes and working, then head home at 5pm. After 9pm, I would settle down with my laptop and start sending cold pitches to online clients seeking writing services.

On most days, I would go to bed at around 4am. While still working online at night, I founded the leather products business.

I would focus on this during weekends and do deliveries mostly on Saturday afternoon because Sundays were meant for church and community service work."

SEEK ASSISTANCE

Dorcas considers herself a handy person, a value she partly attributes to the success of her ventures.

Now, with her only son in a boarding school, she is able to concentrate more on her hustles and still offer her best to her employer.

"My businesses have since picked and for my writing hustle, I no longer have to send cold pitches to clients. On a good month, I make about Sh100,000 from the business and Sh10,000 every weekend from the leather hustle. I market my stuff online on the various social media platforms," she offers.

Advice: I have observed that most limitations are in the mind. There is a lot that one can do if they decide to get out of their comfort zones. Do not be afraid to delegate, pay an extra hand where possible. Don’t let yourself burn out. Ask for help, and advice.

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