Family Business Thrives in Kibichoi despite pandemic

Counties Features Kiambu

A family of six in Kibichoi location of Githunguri sub-county is no longer crying over spilt milk after three members of their family lost their jobs due to coronavirus containment measures.

Following the lockdown imposed by the Government through the (MOH) aimed at containing Covid-19 pandemic thousands of employees were sacked while others were sent on compulsory leave since the employers could no longer pay salaries as the economy crumbled.

After the trio was sent packing in different companies where they had been employed in the capital city of Nairobi, the family migrated back to the village and decided to put up a furniture business using the recycled pallets in Kibichoi as a way of cushioning themselves from Covid-19 adverse effects.

Before the corona pandemic, Stella Wambui was a waitress while Timothy Wanjohi was in the hospitality industry and Brian Gachagua was a tour and travel assistant in an agency within Nairobi City County.

With people experiencing difficult and tricky moments in life due to corona, Peter Gachagua’s family in Kibichoi area within Githunguri after retiring back to their father’s rural home in May 2020, they realized that the state of joblessness was not ending soon as the Covid challenges continued to unveil.

Speaking to KNA from his carpentry workshop Sunday during the Covid sensitization campaign at Kibichoi trading centre he said “My 2 sons and one daughter were laid off from their work from the capital city forcing them to come back to the village which now became a motivation for them to start off a pallet furniture venture as a family in July last year”.

He told KNA that they were assisting their other siblings back in the village whenever they could be paid their wages and that the pandemic had brought them a lot of suffering.

“When my three children returned home last year after being laid off work due to Covid-19 containment measures and people were directed to start working from home, this was a low moment for me as a father thus we had to sit down, discuss a way forward and we had to execute this small venture as our way of getting that one shilling to meet our needs,” Mr. Gichagua told KNA.

Luckily a year down the line there is no regret for making such a decision as the family business is progressing day by day as one of the sons tells KNA as he does final touches on a bed which is awaiting collection.

They have literally gotten creative and more innovative in making unique furniture including beds, tables, chairs and crate stools using the recycled wooden pallets which are mostly under-looked as materials of curving out good furniture.

“I did not study carpentry or wood work as a course in school. I only learned the skill during the corona time between April and June 2020 from a nearby stall in the neighbourhood.

He revealed to KNA that he studied a diploma in hospitality which he says is unfortunately one of the professions that the employees have been shown the door as revelers are no longer entertained in hotels in large numbers.

As Gachagua’s family continue turning their lemons into lemonades since last year, they tell KNA that challenges are a must when starting but that does not hinder them from doing what they have committed to in order to obtain their daily bread.

Some of the items on display Photographer Jackline Kidaha

The whole family is actively involved from 8.00a.m when they open the workshop located in the trading centre.

The family has devised a work schedule that guides them and each person has their own role to play in the workshop where all the jobs are done by the three siblings while their father oversees the progress. He also does record keeping to ensure they record a saving from the business after giving them a stipend for their maintenance.

“As a family, our father is the overall director who ensures that material is acquired at the right time. Wanjohi and Gachagua are the designers of the items we make and once on display, they get customers to buy them instantly while others order for the same. They also use social media to sell their products and through their church.

Wambui, having worked as a waitress ensures that the family is fed at the right time. She also ensures that the workshop is clean and that the items on display are kept in good condition to attract the eye of the passersby.

“We hope things will get better and corona will be wiped from our country as it has caused a lot of pain to people since large populations had no plan B that could provide an immediate solution to them,” said Mr. Gichagua.

He praises his children for having a heart to return home other than suffering in the city where they would have probably engaged in crime in order to eke a living.

He also advised other people who were suffering in the city to return to their roots saying they would easily be accepted instead of wasting themselves in the urban areas begging from friends and relatives since they will not sustain them for long.

“Back in the village, there are numerous resources and because of availability of electricity, running water and internet connectivity, people can transform their lives to resemble those living in the city urban centres” he asserted.

Kibichoi trading centre and her environs are connected to power thus lighting the area and spurring development

By Lydia Shiloya and Jackline Kidaha

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