With the current tough economic times, everyone wants a little bit of extra money to cushion them from ever-increasing costs of living.
As a result, many Kenyan women have tried their hands at side gigs to augment their salaries. We caught up with four such women who started part-time business from their hobbies and passions or to meet a need that they had seen in society, who shared all about their side hustles with us.
Barbara Cynthia Amondi, full-time events planner and part-time baker
Kisumu-based Barbara Amondi, grew up watching the women in her life baking, but she never once imagined that it would be the solution to her financial woes.
“My grandmother, mother sisters and aunts are master bakers … we all grew up doing it and I used to take it for granted. Moreover, I noticed that I only enjoyed eating my own cakes as cakes from other people were always either too sugary or salty … buying other people’s cakes always made me feel as if I had wasted money,” she recalls.
And so her hobby began. This hobby soon turned into a side hustle when she got her first client while working her first job as a research assistant in 2011. It was a birthday cake for a colleague that soon gave birth to more requests for more birthday cakes. She charged Sh1, 200 for the first cake and this became her working capital. When she began, she had no sophisticated equipment, and used an improvised oven in form of a jiko.
Her first big client was a colleague who asked her to bake a friend’s wedding cake. New to wedding cakes, Barbara would enlist the help of her mother to bake the wedding cake, improvising equipment as usual.
“We heated sand in a large cooking pot and baked the cake on it, covering it with a metal lid with charcoal on top. It was hard,” she laughs.
Barbara was almost certain that her handiwork would get negative feedback, but to her surprise, she was given a pat on the back and a tip.
It was after the wedding cake in 2012 that she sat down to chart a business plan. She thought about the tools of trade she needed, a pricelist for her cakes, the cost of running the business and the marketing. She resolved to save half the profit she made from her sales to buy an electric oven and other equipment.
The good thing about the baking business, is that it grows from the referrals from happy clients. Barbara’s outgoing personality, online and offline, also helps.
“Whenever I meet people, I greet them with ‘hello, I’m Barb, a fine baker and events planner,’” she says. Her Facebook page is awash with photos of her cakes, including the modern electronic equipment she just acquired.
Occasionally she is lucky to have “the whole package”: her clients seeking her event organisation services also enlist her for cakes. Barbara’s main challenge is that there are sometimes too few or no customers, while other times there are more clients than she can serve alone.
Capital: Sh1, 200 in 2011
Monthly income: Sh100, 000
Tip: Be patient. The culinary field is competitive and it takes time before you are trusted enough with someone’s wedding or birthday cake. Kisumu alone has 4 million people and once people know you, you will have a good number of regular clients.
Wendy Malinda, full-time accounts manager at a multinational and part-time family coach
When Wendy Malinda became a stepmother, she went in search of knowledge that would help her get along with her stepchildren, but her quest was an endless chain of disappointments.
“There was no material, no classes and no counselling tailored for members of blended families, so I gave up on the search,” she shares.
However, Wendy read widely and learnt from her own experience, and realising that there were other people who might be facing the same challenges she faced as a stepmother, she set out to help such people at a fee. Wendy founded Living in Step Africa (LISA), a company that offers coaching to blended families.
“Every family that I meet is different, and each has different challenges. It could be challenges with money, emotional challenges or even difficulties handling an ex-spouse.
After founding LISA, Wendy went as far as getting certification for her craft. Then she set up a website with a blog where she posts periodical articles on the subject.
She charges Sh2, 500 an hour with an individual seeking to see her just that once while a group sessions that is a six-week programme cost Sh30, 000. An individual seeking long-term intervention on a four-week programme pays Sh10, 000.
Her sessions can be a physical meeting or one held online through Skype. Because of the negative connotations associated with being part of a stepfamily, Wendy has had to exercise patience in watching her clientele grow.
“People are open to general coaching but it is much harder for them to open up about the issues they face in these manner of families and seek help because the word ‘step’ alone already has a negative connotation,” she says.
Capital: Money for setting up the website and registering LISA.
Income from part-time activity: varies
Tip: Patience. This requires a long term goal and a desire to actually help people.
Dorothy Gakii, a full time barber who dabbles as a makeup artist
Dorothy Gakii describes herself as a tomboy and that is why she is a barber.
“But there are days when I want to tap into my feminine side and that is how I started doing makeup on the side,” she says.
After college, Dorothy discovered that the beauty industry is not only wide, but one that offers her a chance to become financially stable if only she puts a little effort and creativity in her work.
While she had basic skills in makeup application, Dorothy would tag along established beauticians and makeup artists like Suzie Wokabi and Rose Ntong’ondu to learn from them.
“I learnt a lot watching the masters, and after sometime I had gathered courage to venture out on my own,” she tells Saturday Magazine.
In 2013, Dorothy founded Daughty Artistry, her professional makeup company that attends to brides and bridesmaids as well as TV anchors such as those on K24’s Alfajiri show.
She bought a few brushes and relied on her clients to provide their own makeup before she had saved enough money to buy her own kit.
For brides she charges Sh6,000, which includes trials on what brand of makeup is best fit for the bride’s skin a week before the wedding day.
Capital: Money for a few “proper” brushes. A good brush costs Sh1, 000
Income from part-time activity: Sh30, 000 to Sh50, 000
Tip: Invest in good brushes from time to time. They may be expensive but do not use a brush with hardened bristles on a client.
Phenny Ochieng’, afulltime administrator at an NGO and boutique owner on the side
The love for community is what drove Phenny Ochieng to study to be a teacher at the university, skills she applies at her administrative job at a non-governmental organisation in Kakamega. Her love for fashion on the other hand, is the foundation on which her part-time job as a boutique owner is laid.
Her Kisumu-based boutique, Klaide Kollections, is two years old and fetches her as much as Sh60,000 a month. From a capital of Sh30,000 which she borrowed form a savings group in 2013, Phenny’s first stock was brought into the country from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.
Her stock, a collection of bags and African print material, was sold out in just three weeks. That was sooner than she had expected as she had seen the boutiques around her struggle.
“I guess I know my clients and their needs”, she says, explaining that: “they are the women who want unique dresses and accessories that they will not see with another person on the streets, and if they can achieve that exclusivity without denting their pockets then you have them as permanent clients.”
“I usually send my clients pictures of new stock and they make orders even before they get to the shop,” she says.
Most of the transactions are negotiated on SMS and WhatsApp, after which clients send her money via M-pesa and then she sends the clothes to them using a courier.
When she started out, it was rather taxing because she gets her goods from Uganda, Dubai and Tanzania, and she had to travel to source for stock, but now she relies on her network of suppliers to send her images of what is available. After she has selected the goods she likes, they are shipped to her. Nevertheless, Phenny is still pressed for time, juggling her master’s degree studies, her fulltime job and her side hustle, and this has meant that she wakes up as early as 3am to get everything done.
Phenny relied on her social capital to build her business.
“My friends and colleagues were my first clients and they are the ones who spread the word about how good my products are.”
The mother of one is aware of the challenges that come with running a business such as hers which is not a basic need and makes exceptions for modes of payment.
“I allow credit with conditions but only for the people whom I am sure will pay. Otherwise, I do not allow credit,” she states emphatically.
Capital: Sh30,000 in 2012
Income from part-time activity: Sh25,000 to Sh60,000
Tip: Know your clientele’s needs and meet them.