Africa and Kenya in particular faces a pressing youth unemployment problem.
Glaring statistics from the World Bank shows that over seven million Kenyans are unemployed with the youth accounting for over 80 per cent. Out of this, about 1 million are desperately looking for work while the rest have given up on job hunting.
Collins Wabianga was faced with a similar predicament after graduating in 2014 from JKUAT with a degree in Actuarial Science.
His heart sank after a year of desperately looking for a job with no luck.
He, however, started picking up the pieces, went to his hometown in Webuye to try a stub at entrepreneurship.
He first tried farming sugar cane. His setback came in the form of loses. He immediately gave up on farming but changed tact.
When StartUp Magazine team met him at his office at Avenue House along Kenyatta Avenue, he was upbeat about succeeding as an entrepreneur.
“One of the hardest decisions you’ll ever face in life is choosing whether to walk away or try harder,” he says in reference to a common quote onworking hard.
“I came back in Nairobi in 2016 and embarked on a new strategy,” he explains.
He started Netcore Electronics with a savings of Kshs 700,000 selling fast moving consumer electronic products like TV sets and mobile phone.
His initial shop was at Nairobi’s river road. After awhile, he teamed up with a colleague and relocated to their current location along Kenyatta Avenue.
“At the outset, the backbone of the business was ICT. But we undertook market research and realized there was more room for growth dealing with computers, laptops and other household electronics,” says the entrepreneur.
Today, the company sells home and office electronics which presents an expansive avenue for growth. It stocks both retail and wholesale products.
“There is increasing demands for laptops especially from students and ICT products for corporates.The corporate is a key market for us as they provide a wide range of business opportunitiesas opposed to retail which is majorly one off engagements.”
In order to capitalize on the increased appetite for laptops by students, Mr. Wabianga says the firm is working on a strategy to bring investors on board. “We are looking at a case where investors would finance students to acquire laptops and pay in installments. As much as it makes a business sense for us, it is also another way of empowering students to achieve their dreams.”
While the business has grown organically since inception, it has its own fair share of challenges.
“As a startup, we don’t have a customer base. It is very challenging to source for customers,” he says, adding that, “Initially we used to buy electronics locally from distributors who charged us high prices. We carried those costs to clients watering up our competitive edge. However, with time, we were able to identify authentic distributors who sell to us at competitive prices.”
“We have also been conned twice. We now know whom to deal with and whom not to deal,” says Mr. Wabianga expressing concerns over frauds in this line of business.
Has the journey been easy?
“Startups in Kenya struggle a lot. Government should give young entrepreneurs incentives instead of stifling their growth. Access to finance to fund business growth is also severely strained, and what is available is expensive.”
Despite these setbacks, Netcore Electronics has adopted ways to enhance their customer experience and generate more sales. For instance, after sales, they can free installations and setup of ICT products for clients.
They also market the business on digital platforms and via billboards across the city to create awareness.
To this end, Mr. Wabianga aims to expand his venture and have a nationwide reach.
Advise to young entrepreneurs?
“There is no perfect timing to start a business. Start where you are with what you have and learn on the job. You cannot anticipate everything the business will throw at you.”