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De Souza: I turned dilemma into opportunity

ED NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 16 – She made her own opportunity and has been able to earn her own living. And she made it!

“Don’t sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them,” says Esmeralda De Souza, a 27 year old Kenyan lady who is the owner and the Managing Director of the thriving Spez Limited, a catering company in Nairobi.

Established with a capital of Sh100, 000 five years ago, the firm is currently worth more than Sh40 million and aiming to hit Sh100 million mark in the next two years.

De Souza would perhaps by now be a renowned Geologist in the country had she completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Nairobi.

Success does not come on a silver platter. Becoming a mother at a very young age, she had to wake up and do something. And with hard work and passion for her newly found profession, she has managed to invest the time and the effort to make the business stand firm.

“After I gave birth to my son, what occupied my mind was how to bring him up well and ensure we were not a burden to my parents. It was the biggest dilemma in my life.’’

While at University and from her parents’ home, De Souza began baking small cookies and sold them at a nearby restaurant. The owner asked her to make Black Forest cakes. As she did not know how, she called up a friend of hers, Spencer Fondaumiere, to help. He was studying to become a Chef at the Top Chef’s culinary institute. She learnt how to make it and began selling them.

After making several contacts while selling the cakes, her customers’ demands grew. At one time one of them asked her to entirely cater for a company function, she roped Fondaumiere in and they did it. That is when Spez was officially born, in 2008.

“It soon became clear to us that this was what we were meant to do and we put our hearts and souls into it. Our first ever Sh100,000 loan was from our parents. This facilitated the purchase of some basic kitchen essentials like a cooker and oven e.t.c at our first kitchen. We later got Sh1 million from some investors that enabled us to renovate and rent a house at Kileleshwa. Then we later took another Sh2 million from the same bank to buy some more equipment.” she says.

They went on doing catering services from small events like birthday parties, anniversaries and so on. Sooner or later, small events became big events.

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At the moment the company’s key clients include most of the major multi nationals in Nairobi like, IFC (International Finance Corporation), IBM and others, especially those who have diverse nationalities in their companies.

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