How retrenchment shaped my penchant for success

Daisy Nyaga

Daisy Nyaga talks about her experience in finding fulfillment after a disheartening retrenchment from a leading airline

In September 2012 I came back from a flight from Netherlands to be shocked with a retrenchment letter that afternoon. I felt like the whole world was crumbling on me.

My 7 years stint as a flight attendant with Kenya Airways had come to a halt. The shock left me heartbroken. I had to pick up the pieces and rise again.

At the time I was a member of NeoLife, formerly GNLD. I had subscribed to their nutritional supplements which had helped my asthmatic daughter overcome her condition.

The next day NeoLife had a members training which I attended. The training partly taught about personal development and overcoming challenges. For the first time the training was so relevant to me. It appealed to my situation.

GNLD kept me busy and I started selling their products making a little income.

I did that for two years but the income hadn’t matched my previous salary . I had come from a high income career and I struggled adjusting my lifestyle. I had to change a lot of things and it was a great learning experience.

I acquired a new mind power and learnt to overcome drastic challenges.

Imagine going into a new town with a new product, not knowing anyone, striking conversations with strangers and making money out of it? But I did it!

Along the way I got a new employment offer from Labtech Electronics as the service delivery manager-They sold scientific equipments to institutions like schools, colleges and universities. I held the job for about 18 months.

All this time the KQ case was ongoing and we didn’t have the benefits yet. We were hopeful that the courts would give us better compensation or reinstatement.

In November 2014 I opted out of the case and took the little package that KQ had offered me. It was a critical moment for me that I had to approach with care and a lot of spiritual guidance.

I used part of the retrenchment package to Start Elyama Foods (K) Ltd, my company.

During my stint with KQ I used to travel to Asia and I realized that many people there were using electric steaming lunch boxes in their business premises or offices. It was very convenient and healthy.

Back home through my interactions, people wanted to eat and live healthy lifestyles. They would carry food in normal lunch boxes to office and by the time they wanted to eat it was already cold or had spoiled.

I figured out that the electric lunch boxes would solve their worries.

Electric lunch boxes are portable. You can carry food to work with ease and plug it to an electric powered socket when you want to warm your food. They come in different colors and keep your food fresh.

I ordered for a sample and I was happy with it. I then ordered for a batch that cost about Kshs 300,000.

I thought I would sell in six months but they amazingly sold out in two months. I ordered for more. All this time I kept my day job. So I employed a social media and marketing manager.

He would manage my social media pages and take care of the orders. In the evening I would take count of the orders at home and organize for a delivery through a courier company. So the arrangement never had an impact on my day job while my hustle thrived.

The company grew at a pace that I did not expect that forced me to quit employment to fully focus on nurturing it. Along the way I also realized that I needed to diversify my product line or introduce a new product altogether so that I could capitalized on the already established customer base.

The lunch boxes came branded, with a one year warranty and I never heard a complaint from any of my customers. They were serving them well and some of them kept asking me if I had any other equally good products. We are now in the process of introducing a Three in One Breakfast maker that has a Frying pan, a coffee or Tea maker and a Mini Oven.

The demand for lunch boxes kept rising that made me order for a full container. So I gathered all my savings and cash and splashed into the business.

The business picked up well until a major scare towards the end of 2016. There was an economic slowdown in the build up to the 2017 general elections.

I had tied down all my finances to the consignment and I was unable to clear them off at the port. I began experiencing some cash flow issues. I thought that some customers would pay in advance to help me clear the consignment but it wasn’t forthcoming.

For the first time the business had a blip. I was faced with a hard decision of looking for money to so that I could clear the consignment and start selling. I had to consider employment so that I could raise extra capital and ended up at Advanta Africa-an ICT Mobile VAS company.

I later got into a deal with my shipment firm and began to release the goods in batches. It was such a relief.

All this experiences shaped the way I perceived employment and entrepreneurship. I wanted to share it with other people so that they could learn some incredible lessons and avoid the pitfalls that I encountered.

In particular, I wanted to teach employed people that they can build a stable savings fund and even start a side hustle while keeping their day job.

This informed a book I launched in March this year called ‘Beyond 8 to 5’ or simply beyond employment.

I am a currently a fulltime employee as the Chief Operations Officer for a Credit Financing company based in Nairobi.

Lessons from the book

  • Your employer is not your daddy or mummy. Your employer is in business to make money. And as much as he would care about your welfare, you must be personally responsible for your own future.
  • You should maximize your opportunities at the work place. Don’t get too comfortable and be blind to the advantages that the job comes with. There are always financial and social benefits at your workplace, skill advancement, networks among others that you should be keen to exploit.
  • Save and invest for your future. Even if you are earning peanuts, make sure you are saving a certain percentage. Have an emergency fund.

The book is available through our website You can make orders for both hard copies and e-book. They retail at Kshs 500 exclusive of delivery costs.

The Steaming Electric lunchboxes are available on our site

The book has been well received and I am getting amazing feedback from the people who have read it. The feedback has now encouraged me to start a coaching program to guide people on how they can take advantages of their opportunities at the workplace to create sustainable ventures.

Set to begin this coming September, our training will be holistic. We have partnered with experts in marketing, business systems, legal and certified auditors to give one a realistic roadmap to implement in your business.

I look forward to set a one stop shop for healthy promoting products and introduce cassava based flours under Elyama Foods.

For Beyond 8 to 5, I want to build a community of empowered employees running profitable side businesses and creating employment.