Viridianah Mkanyika, 31, had tried her luck at employment in various companies but was not happy with the jobs.
After working for more than six years as a site supervisor in a Mombasa-based company, Ms Mkanyika decided to resign to try her luck in business.
Luckily her friend Dickson Wakise, now a partner, told her about a tent-making business which he wanted to venture into.
Ms Mkanyika, who holds a diploma in mechanical engineering, and Mr Wakise travelled to Norway for a short course on tent-making before they returned home and partnered to form Plany Limited Kenya which specialises in making tents, truck covers, parking shades, collapsible water tanks, fish pond and dam liners.
Their trainers provided them with the initial tent making raw materials. At the Kenya Industrial Estate Limited grounds in Voi town in Taita Taveta County, a large steal-framed tent welcomes one to their workshop.
Inside are various machines for sewing and welding as well as fabrics. “They also helped us to put up this workshop and the machines,” she said.
Using skills learned in the engineering course and experience from previous employment, Ms Mkanyika makes tents and sets them up for her customers. Their clients range from farmers to business people to groups. Ms Mkanyika said they make products according to customers’ preferences.
“Some come to us with inadequate money but we don’t dismiss them. We make products according to customers’ budgets,” she said. The cost of their tents ranges from Sh35,000 to Sh100,000.
“During the General Election our business thrived because we got many orders for tents from politicians,” she said.
“This business requires a lot of sacrifice and one must be very keen,” she said, adding that they closely supervise their employees in order to get a high quality products.
She challenged young people to venture into business. “White collar jobs are rare nowadays. We should create jobs for ourselves and stop depending on others to employ us,” she said.