By Mashariki Correspondent
When Nicholas Mutwiri could not find a job after graduating with a cooperative management diploma at Kabete Technical Training Institute in Kiambu, he opted to start a small embroidery and printing in Meru.
He was at the institution for three years.
Mutwiri, 34, says he could not find work for three years even after sending tens of application letters, forcing him to look for an alternative.
He says when finding work proved to be a ‘problem’ he did research on a problem facing residents and found there was demand for embroidery services.
“I identified the need for embroidery service. Now they bring me their problems and I solve them. I take mine to God!” he laughed.
Mutwiri, after a course to learn the art of stitching institution’s logos onto company uniforms and other pieces of cloth, started the Nexpress Embroidery and Printing of T-shirts located next to the Central Bank in Meru town.
He says he earned sh100, 000 as voter registration and referendum clerk in 2010, an amount he topped up with a bank loan to start the venture.
Mutwiri, a father of one, says he did research and discovered there was only one embroidery firm in Meru town, yet the demand for the service was huge.
In October last year, he was able to successfully apply for a bank loan to acquire the sh2.7m embroidery machine, imported from Japan and employ a number of young people. Now he is his own boss he says more customers are walking through the door.
“Most of them I get from referrals. We do printing and embroidery for individuals, schools and small firms. But many more are still seeking the services in Nairobi because they are unaware they are available here,” he said.
But he adds that it has been a challenge for him to reach the ‘big bosses’ of companies in Meru to pitch for the business.
He says they get good business when schools re-open when the demand for branded uniforms is high.
“That is a period when I and my workers spend nights here putting logos on the shirts and sweaters. But during other times the work is manageable,” he said.
Apart from the secretary, I have employed people to do T-shirt printing, brand cups, and other items while others are embroidery machine operators. Yet others do the cloth trimming once the embroidery is finished,” he added.
Over the period he has gained more skills to do both the printing and embroidery.
“I did not have to go to school to learn it. When I started the T-shirt printing my employee who was an expert taught me! And the people who sold me the embroidery machine also taught me how to operate it,” Mutwiri added.
The embroidery machine has the capacity to attach logos on 300 pieces of cloth in a day.
“But if the logo is not completed we can do even 400 in a day,” Mutwiri says.
One of the challenges in the business is that some clients do not collect their products, denying him income.
An institution stayed for three years without collecting uniforms. But he is happy that after solving his own employment challenge, he gave an opportunity to other unemployed young people.
He has trained them to do various duties.
He encourages the youth to use the little they can get to start income generating activities.
“People start a business with as little as sh1, 000 and gradually grow. With commitment and ambition one able is able to reach their potential,” Mutwiri advised.