Nairobi Hustle: How I started my shoemaking business with savings from Helb loan – VIDEO
At the age 24, Seth Ombae is towering example of the true spirit of hustling among Nairobi youths.
The Bachelor of Science in Microprocessor Technology and Instrumentation graduate owns a firm that is manufacturing men’s leather shoes, a business he started with Sh12, 000 saved from Helb loan while at University of Nairobi.
He also sells men’s clothes and designs websites.
Ombae made his first shoe as a third year student after walking in and out of stalls in the city centre in search of an affordable leather shoe.
He noticed that most shoes are imported and quite costly, so he opted to source for leather and a fundi at Kamukunji Market who made his first pair, a breakthrough of his entrepreneurial journey.
“My best moment as an entrepreneur is when I had a bulk order and supplied one client with 300 pairs. The customers are appreciating the shoes. though Kenyans have a taste for imported stuff, when they see these locally made shoes with a good finishing they appreciate,” he told Nairobi News Hustle.
Ombae has since expanded from making one pair a day back in 2015 to making 25 pairs a day for both wholesale and retail through his page Somba Collections.
A pair of shoes costs fro Sh2, 500.
“I was motivated by self-employment, I’ve always been for the idea of being my own boss and also create employment for other people. I’m always looking for greater opportunities to grow and expand my production to handle bigger orders,” he said.
He currently manages a pool of six employees and being a recent graduate himself, he looks out for talent while recruiting.
“You have to look for people with the technical knowhow who by the way are available. Most people like things that are ready… you see you have to start from somewhere and so it’s important to have employees who know they need to start from somewhere,” he said.
Ombae feels that the government needs to reach out to the SMEs in manufacturing
“If you look at the big manufacturers most of them are not locals and so the government needs to motivate the Kenyan SMEs even if it’s by giving subsidies just so that the industry can grow,” he adds.
To budding entrepreneurs he advices them to “just start and once you are there give it your best.”