Naomi is 29 years old. She sat for her KCSE in 1998, then joined a polytechnic in Makueni where she trained in Tailoring Grade 3. Shethen moved to Nairobi and got married. In her own words she says, “Life was not a bed of roses as I thought. I therefore decided to look for work and got one on a casual basis in a nearby tailoring shop where the only work I was given was finishing activities such as putting on buttons on finished dresses but there were no practical skills I was acquiring from the place. I was earning between KES 200-300 per day and this was not enough to cater for my growing family needs. I was also not assured of a salary since it was based on the Employer need and availability of work. Therefore, as I as pondered of my next moves and how I could earn enough to cater for my family, a friend told me about KYEP application form for training and internship. When I realized that I was is still within the acceptable age brackets, I applied and helped many other youths to apply but I was the only one taken”.
Naomi continues, “All the trainings were beneficial to me. I was generally a shy person and did not know how to relate with customers; after the trainings I was able to assess myself better through the self-awareness training which greatly helped boost my self-esteem. I learnt the importance of being trust-worthy and understood how I could deal with competition in business. After the trainings, I was placed with an Employer in clothing and textile which was an area I had a passion in and where I gained practical skills in clothing and textile and even learnt how to make wedding dressed in addition to the women suits. During the Trainings and Internship, I saved part of my stipend since I had a vision of starting my own business. With some savings from my stipend, I bought two sewing machines after KYEP. Since I could not afford business space, I asked a friend whom I got to meet during my Internship at Nairobi Textiles if she could share her space with mean she accepted. But soon after, my friend had to move away and she offered me the stall, but I was required to deposit KES. 33,000 to cater for two months’ rent and one month deposit. I did not have the money but I requested the property proprietor to give me two weeks to look for the money which was hard to get from friends and relatives and paid. As luck would have it, I got a contract to sew wedding outfits, and with my earnings from this, I was able to pay the required money. Initially, I did not have tailors and the amount of business I was getting was more than I could handle since most of the customers who were mainly referrals from those I had done some work for, I managed by contracting piecework to free-lance tailors for whom I would pay KES. 800 per piece. From my earnings thereafter, I managed to hire two good tailors, whom I pays KES. 7,500 per person per week. I still gives out piece-work when need be specifically when I have huge orders”.
For the stall where these tailors operate from (about 6ft x 8ft), she pays KES. 17,000 per month. Besides, she has hired display space for which she pays KES. 6,000 per month for rent and is at the moment paying an attendant KES. 7,000 per month. Her monthly expenditure therefore comes to at least KES. 84,000 a month; her income on a good day comes up-to at least KES. 10,000 per day. She at the moment gets orders as far as Namanga. Out of the support, motivation and small savings from the KYEP training stipend, she is now self-employed and in addition, employs three other people. In her parting words, she says. “I hope to expand my business beyond East Africa and be among the top designers. Thanks to KYEP for this great exposure and opportunity since I can now comfortably provide for my family and also enable other people earn a living.”