He lost his job but stayed focused and came back stronger than ever.

Stephen Kuria at his workshop stitching a ball and on his right are two balls that he has made. 

What’s Next?’ is usually the first question that workers ask themselves when their employers terminate their job contracts. To some it means the end of their world and end up devastated and depressed.

Stephen Kuria went to Nairobi from his rural home to try his fortune in the city. He first landed in a job as a driver charged to ferry children to school. Later in 2013, he got a job in a company that used to make soccer balls.

Life seemed so good and right for the young man until 2 years later when the company management decided to close shop. The closure of the company caught him (as well as his colleagues) by surprise since none of them had ever thought about waking up one day and finding themselves jobless.

“I didn’t know what to do considering that I was caught unawares and had bills to pay. Luckily for me, a friend of mine linked me with another man and I got a job in a stationary shop,” explains Kuria.

The thought of losing this job again made him think of a backup plan that would help him earn a living even without depending on employment.

Savings.

With the little money he saved from his salary and the experience he had earned from his previous employment, Kuria bought some tools and started stitching his own handmade soccer balls during his free time at home.

After making a few balls, he went out to schools and homes seeking for market.

“People’s initial response to my work was overwhelming and it encouraged me to put more effort to make more balls. My first batch was all sold out within a very short time,” he narrates.

With now some capital and the few shillings saved from his salary, Kuria burnt the midnight oil to ensure that he complete his next order which he did within the next couple of days.

As days went by, the proceeds from the sales lucrative, prompting him to opt to resign from his job and concentrate on making the leather balls.

“Business was picking so well and with referrals from those who had bought my balls and my own initiative to visit surrounding education institutions, I had more than I could handle and I saw no reason to stick to my job,” he adds.

Kuria reckons that the quality of his work, the final product which is entirely made from leather and his fair price are the key ingredients that attract his customers.

Challenges.

However, Kuria reckons that lack of enough working capital is hindering his growth as he is unable to meet the demand for the balls.

“My biggest challenge is the inadequacy of working capital. If I had enough money, I can make more balls enough to open up a sports shop and probably have a few branches in major urban centres. 

Limited capital forces me to buy raw materials in very small quantities thus even when the demand is high, I cannot take full advantage of the market,” he says.

Kuria also notes that the demand for balls is seasonal and his peak season is during school days when children are at school.

“That is when am able to get a lot of orders from institutions. When schools close, I am left to make do with one or two sales in the residential areas which are not even guaranteed.”

He plans that in future, his business will grow to a level that apart from sales, he will start training youth to make balls and in turn create more jobs.

To get in touch with Kuria, call him via +254 711 400562.

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