While Covid-19 has left many despondent, it has been a springboard for many innovations and businesses. The Resh kids group was one of the children suffering from the covid pandemic because Latifa Nebkabiya started it after the first lockdown (2020). The store is located near St Raphael Hospital, Nsambya, and deals in children’s clothing. From newborn to 12 year old plus expectant mother essentials.
Coming from a family of girls only, Nebkabiya was inspired to start the shop because she wanted to dress up the girls. “I felt well suited to doing this and would do my best,” she says.
Before the shutdown began, Npcabia graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration specializing in Finance from Makerere University Business School. Just like everyone else, the effects of the lockdown made it difficult for her to get as much a job as she sought.
After her aunt saw her bustle, she gave her 4 million Kenyan shillings to start a business. “I am grateful for this gift from my aunt because if it had been a loan, as a starter, in post-Covid times, this would have slowed growth,” she shares.
Nabakabya used the funds to buy a budding stock in Sasa Arcade after a lot of inquiries and price comparison. This included newborn items such as overalls, towels, socks, urine mats, crib sheets, diapers, receivers, blankets, mosquito nets and jackets. She also got clothes for expectant mothers like maternity pants, nightgowns, maternity items, and cotton.
“Out of the capital I got, I used Sh 2.3 million for baby products, Sh 500,000 for products for expectant mothers, while Sh 100,000 was spent on Facebook ads. At the time, I had the money to rent so I kept the rest to buy those things. that people might need yet not have in my pantry,” she said.
However, the beginning was not easy at all. “It started with looking for a location, then came the worry about where to get inventory and pay the rent. Honestly, it was stressful but it was nice to own my business,” she says.
Nepcabia’s first customers were her family and friends. “That’s what I said I was going to open a children’s store. So they got everything they needed from me and I didn’t get paid much because they were my first customers. Although I didn’t get much profit every time, it was a good feeling to make sales,” she smiles .
Nbkabiya learns from these that while friends can support one’s business, they tend to take their friends’ business for granted.
“For example, if the item is worth Sh 50,000, some may want to buy for Ksh 35,000 because you are friends. With that, I have learned and resolved to separate friendship from business.”
Pricing is a very big part of any business and when it is not done right, the project will not turn a profit.
Nabakabya learned the cost and pricing from a friend who introduced it to most of the merchandise suppliers in the store. “One of the things it taught me is the need to look around to compare prices because every store has its own prices. The other is that when I buy things, it is cheaper to buy in bulk rather than by pieces. That way, I can make a meaningful profit,”
Nabakabya acquires most of its clients through online marketing on Facebook and WhatsApp. However, due to its geographical location, its clients also include people from the hospital. “I also get on my social networks and thus get clients from friends as well as from my church family,” she says.
Expenses and profits
Although close to the hospital, sales depend on the seasons. However, within a month, total sales are between 200,000 and 600,000 shillings.
“Some days are better than others. Sometimes God can give me a client who pays up to Sh500,000, which ultimately makes the month a good one.”
In terms of expenses, it is an average of Sh970,000 including rent, garbage collection fees, electricity and transportation.
Regardless of her fears when starting out, Nabakabya has struggled over the years. This includes ever-increasing prices when you go for restocking, increased transportation costs, failure of some customers to pay delivery charges, losses when buying and selling online, high import taxes as well as high rental and maintenance costs. “These are constantly lowering our profit margin. However, we can’t throw in the towel. A small profit is better than no source of income at all.”
Being an entrepreneur requires a thick crust because there are instances when a bright day turns into a sad one. Nebkabiya experienced these moments.
“Sometimes customers make orders that necessitate making orders. However, after spending the money, they don’t buy what they ordered which causes a financial loss because the order is usually customized to their needs. The other one that was notable was during one of the first months when I went to work and closed store due to unpaid rent.”
In the last two years, the customer base has expanded which has increased profits.
“By the end of last year, I had started shipping my own items. Plus, the business had grown to the point where it could handle its own expenses. That meant I no longer had to dip into my pocket to keep it which was a huge milestone, as Says.
Each challenge is a lesson to help her run the business better and over the years Nabakabya has learned not to trust anyone to run the company.
“To be successful in business, you need to do most things on your own rather than delegate them. This helps you better account for your actions as well as avoiding financial and stock losses that you cannot trace back to.”
Doing business this way helped her run the store business well and know what she needs to grow.
I wish I knew…
Where do you get products at wholesale prices? However, some people are not open minded. Having said that, over time, as networks have grown, I have learned. This is why I value social capital.
She is looking to expand the store to be a wholesale point of sale for everything related to newborns, children and pregnant women.
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