Five young alumni of African Nazarene University (ANU) have come together to start a beauty salon just outside the ANU Rongai campus that has proved to be a lesson in self-determination and team work. But the team spirit started when they were in campus as undergraduates pursuing different degree courses.
Naphali Omondi, Ngoroi James, Eustus Mwai, Gregory Njogu and Wycliff Ohuru met as the members of the first soft ball team at ANU. The Crusaders soft ball more or less pioneered soft-ball in Kenyan universities hosting and organizing tournaments and leagues.
After graduating, the five friends formed the Knights soft-ball team, an off-campus team that provided the alumni with an opportunity to continue playing their favorite game. But financing the team was a challenge as they were all unemployed at the time.
“Our main objective was to play soft ball but we required kits and needed to cover other expenses like transport. So we decided to start a business as a group which will finance our club,” explains Omondi.
Omondi says the idea of a beauty parlor was considered because of the need and the gap within campus.
“We also had barber machines and skills within the team, so it was an easier option for us to first start a barber shop.”
With just enough, the team started the Kinghts Beauty salon. But there were challenges from the onset. One was that they had to pull together to raise enough capital and considering they did not have other sources of income, it wasn’t a small task.
“We had to learn the statutory requirements of starting a small business, applying and getting a license and such things. Attracting and convincing clients to use us their preferred beauty salon was also a challenge,” says Omondi, who is also the president of the softball team.
Through persistence and quality service, the barber shop grew to include a salon and beauty parlor.
“But we had to endure being mocked by other students. The expectation after campus is that look for a white-collar job and settle down, but a few encouraged us.”
“Although we tried various marketing approaches, it was word of mouth that worked most effectively.”
The salon has retained customers (mostly the university community) by offering better service at favorable rates.
Two of the members Gregory and Wycliff, who have now secured employment, say they have learnt more from their business and extra-curricular activities when they were in campus than in class.
“Except for a few finance classes the rest are not applicable in the work place,” laments Wycliff who works for a SACCO.
They are in agreement that if one has a passion for something, they should go for it because it is the passion that propels people to achieve their objectives.
Currently, Knights have recruited 15 more players in their Softball/baseball team. Plans are underway to recruit and form a ladies softball team. They are also in the process of planning and scouting for other business opportunities that they can venture into so as to expand their entity.
“Entrepreneurship requires patience, commitment, passion and persistence. Success in any business is not all about the money in your account but also the satisfaction ones get from the business,” concludes Naphtali Omondi, Knights president.