Uncle Tom’s first business

‘Uncle Tom, what was your first business?’ I asked, breaking the silence in the car.


‘Hmmm,’ he hesitated before responding. We had been driving for a while now heading to see one of his warehouses out of town. ‘Well, my first biashara was selling shoes in campus. I’d taken a small loan from an older friend and started buying and selling shoes to ladies in the campus.’


‘Wait, a friend gave you cash just like that?’ I was startled by the thought.


‘Not quite, I had to return the cash back after three months but bila interest. The business took more time to pick up than I had anticipated. I had not considered competition.’ He made a left turn off the main road.


‘How much was the cash?’




‘What competition did you face?’ I asked.


‘There were already other sellers in the uni who had stayed longer and had won over most of the ladies as clients. One mistake I did was not study the market for competitors, I only focused on the opportunity that I thought lay in front of me, and not the threats.’


My thoughts immediately switched to KCB Lions’ Den. After the chat I had with Uncle Tom last Saturday, I went on KCB’s website to check a few of the pitches. I remember one of the investors asking about the question of competitors and the entrepreneur not having very solid answers.


‘You know I saw some of the pitches as you suggested. The show is actually fun to watch!’


‘Aaaah, good.’ Uncle Tom had a way of approval and saying so much with few words. “If you keep it up you’ll avoid making the same business mistakes I made when I was younger.’


He was definitely someone I looked up to and hoped to surpass;. having started a business as young as 19 years and building his own empire many years later. There was so much to learn from him.


‘What happened to the business?’ I asked.


‘I had to let it go. Thankfully, I was able to at least return the cash I’d borrowed and bought a shaving machine to start another business. I quickly realized the first business was going to be a tough sell considering my price was higher than my competitors who had more clients, more experience and more connections to get cheaper quality shoes. But for what it’s worth, the experience elevated my business mentality.’


‘And here you are now!’ I exclaimed.


‘Haha, it takes patience and hard work to get here. Just keep focused and-‘


“and watch the show, right?’ I interrupted him.


‘Haha, yes and watch KCB Lions’ Den.’


He stopped in front of a gate and that’s when I realized we had arrived to the warehouse. The talk had preoccupied me and didn’t notice how fast we had arrived in his Mercedes G-wagon.


We got out and I followed his lead, even more eager to learn from him.




Stay tuned for more #UncleTomWits stories coming to you soon.


Read previous story here


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