A Youthful Congolese, Hand-Held to Start and Grow a Handcraft Business in Kakuma!
He was only 22 when he arrived in Nairobi in January 2019 from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on invitation by his late father’s friend, an urban refugee based in Kenya. In March 2019, Espoir joined a Kenyan owned small beadwork company at Kasarani, in Nairobi for training on beadwork. In October 2019, UNHCR transferred him to Kakuma Camp. Espoir was not unique to the challenges faced by the Refugees in the camp. After exhausting the money, he had made in Nairobi, he went through rough times financially and one-time contemplated sneaking back to Nairobi in search of greener pastures.
However, he decided to approach his Kenyan friend in Kasarani and successfully negotiated tools and stock of beads. Having heard about AAH-I’s Business Incubation Project, he visited the offices and his visit to AAH-I bore fruits since he was among those that successfully joined the business incubator. He was awarded one of the affordable business stalls funded by UNHCR, where he put up a small beadwork business.
On admission to the incubator, he was assisted to utilize his meager resources on optimizing his business opportunities. He began with zero number of staff, working full time on his own but in just six months of one on one business coaching and monitoring, he has grown his revenues, stock, and fixed assets. He has also recruited 8 youths to work for him in his recently opened 5 outlets.
In a nutshell, his micro business has grown from a fledgling enterprise to a fast-growing profitable and potential SME soon. Named “Kakuma Handcrafts”, Espoir’s business is now one of the most sought-after producers and sellers of beaded necklaces, bangles, earrings, and belts. While most of the bead’s products in the Kakuma market are largely produced in the colors of flags of various nations. He has managed to differentiate his products from the rest by use of beads with alphabetical letters inscribed on them.
“I see myself in the next 2-3 years running my own company here in Kakuma with various distinct production lines. I will personally be at the helm managing it rather than getting actively involved in the actual production as is the case now” he said.
Espoir’s goal is to acquire the prerequisite shoe-making skills from them for the planned future production of blended Maasai sandals with beads to further grow his profits especially, in the current challenging business climate. He also looks at the leather industry with a lot of admiration.
Asked about his experience in the business incubator, his response was simple, “I owe everything I am today to AAH-I business incubation project”.