“As an entrepreneur, my biggest achievement is putting a smile on people’s faces and knowing they have fast and affordable internet connectivity.”
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Project Management and Entrepreneurship, Simon looked for a job, but like many young people in his country struggled to find one. So he took the first step to on his entrepreneurial journey and started working for himself: “I set myself up as a consultant, writing other people’s business plans. It was whilst doing this that my own idea for a business started to form. To write business plans, I needed to do lots of research, to do this I needed the internet, but access was very limited.”
Simon was lucky and had his own computer and modem, but it was very expensive and he would often use his entire monthly in just one day. He began searching for better internet providers, but was unable to find one. This was when the idea of a business flourished in this head: “I thought this could be my opportunity to help others: if I could offer this service to other people in my area it would not only help them have reliable internet connectivity, but I can also make something for myself”.
So Simon focused on finding an ISP (Internet Service Provider): “This is how I met someone from Jammi Telecommunications, an ISP company, who told me I could get unlimited internet connectivity if I had a company that they could partner with.”
After doing a lot of research, Simon registered his business Badilisha Communication Enterprise and started negotiations with Jammi Telecommunication. After about four months, Jammi accepted his business proposal.
So Simon started his business – using his own savings, he set up a base station at his home and started using the internet connection from his ISP.
“This was a milestone for me, but it was very risky. I decided to take it because I trusted I had done my research very well and identified a gap in the market”.
What came after was not a walk in the park for Simon. “‘The first few months were tricky, I had to get as many clients as possible and market the service I was offering. That meant digging deep holes into my pocket before I started to actually make profit”.
One of his biggest challenges was creating and maintaining a reputable service for his clients. His initial router was not great quality and would short circuit when operating 24 hours a day. More investment was needed to solve the problem and allow the business to grow properly, but Simon did not know where to go.
Then a friend invited him to a knowledge sharing session on how to improve his business and there he met Kenya Youth Business Trust Pwani, a YBI member that offers support to young entrepreneurs to start or grow their business. That’s when the tide turned for Simon. After attending business training course, he said:
“It was very useful on financial and marketing aspects. I then received financial support to develop further. I used it to buy new equipment (a new router that could broadcast a longer range).”
Now Simon has 50+ clients ranging from households, health centres, cybercafés, churches and schools around his area. In a month, he can earn as much as KES 100, 000 from his clients, which gives him an income quite above average in his country.
He also has big plans for the future, he would like to set up a grid network that would provide wireless internet access to a large population to the North of Mombasa. To Simon, what started as a need to have internet connection for research is now a full-time job. He employs seven part-time workers who handle the marketing and technical issues. He says:
“It has taken a lot of patience and perseverance to get where I am today, but I feel I have fulfilled my childhood dream, to make a valuable contribution to my community.”