“Owning your own business is the best feeling!”
This statement came from Antony Mwangi, a 23-year-old business owner. Antony is currently a 3rd year student at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, studying Business Administration. Instead of waiting to apply for a job after graduation, as most of his peers will do, Antony decided to start his own business. Together with his business partner, Vincent Ngugi, who is also his cousin, Antony started a cotton candy and snacks business operating out of various malls. Vincent is also a student studying Economics at Kenyatta University. The two manage to balance work and classes as they continue to operate their successful business.
How It Began
According to Antony, he had always wanted to own and operate a business. After his second year at University, he decided to defer his studies and take the Ksh 50,000 meant for his fees to start a business. He looked around for a venture that he would be able to launch with the capital he had as well as one with a large market. In the end, he decided on a cotton candy and snacks business.
According to Wikipedia, cotton candy, also known, as candyfloss is a form of spun sugar. Heating and liquefying sugar and spinning it make it. The other snacks the cousins sell include flavored popcorn like caramel popcorn and potato on a stick. The main market for the business is children and the youth with an age range of 4 years old to early 20s.
In October of 2015, Antony and Vincent opened up their first stand at Ananas Mall in Thika. A year later, they opened up a second stand in Juja City Mall, Juja. In 2017, they plan to open up two more stands, one in Mountain Mall, Kasarani and the other at the soon to be opened Two Rivers Mall. They also plan to diversify and in February of this year, the duo expects to open up a Wines and Spirits shop in Juja. Currently, they have employed one other person with plans to employ more staff as is needed as they continue to expand.
The main reason that Antony gave for wanting to start a business was the sense of freedom he got from being his own boss. He is able to dictate his own hours and he also has direct control over the profits.
The main challenge facing the duo’s business is sourcing for the main ingredient for their cotton candy. They have to import it from China, which is challenging for them not to mention the high import duties charged by KRA.
Despite this, their business is profitable as is evidenced by the rate of their expansion. This can be attributed to the duo’s hard work. However, the two also keenly follow the stories of other business people on the Internet to gather insights and gain some advice. This is especially the case when sales are down and the cousins need inspiration to keep them going.
Antony’s advice to budding business owners is for them to keep dreaming and work hard to turn their dreams into a reality. They should also stay positive and be aware of what’s trending.