Written by Audrey Masitsa
Betty Khaguhia is a businesswoman and formerly imprisoned woman, a title she embraced upon completing the Ufunuo Program on the Outside earlier this year.
“I will now wear the title of formerly imprisoned women with pride because I’m no longer imprisoned. I have learned self-acceptance.”
Betty, who is one of Clean Start’s Trainer of Trainees, and the pacesetter in matters digital business, runs Kisasa Jikoni, an online store that sells a myriad of items such as household goods, clothing, and toys.
“Before I went into business, I was working at a restaurant. But when Covid-19 hit we lost our jobs.”
Betty’s friend, who runs a similar business, introduced her to the ins and outs of running a store.
“She’s an importer so she needed a shop attendant. That’s how I started. I was the one doing deliveries and sitting at the shop in case a client came.
“After a year, I had learned how the business works. That’s when I started my own.”
Betty imports goods from China which she then sells through her Instagram page (@kisasajikoni) and her shop in Nairobi CBD.
“My clients come from online. I pay for advertising on Instagram so that’s how they find me.”
In these times when everything has migrated online, Betty has an edge over retailers who had started with brick-and-mortar shops and are now grappling with getting themselves recognized in the digital space. She has narrowed down her audience, made a name for herself and now has repeat customers, some of whom are out of the country.
“I have clients whom I have never met and yet, they buy from me constantly, some of them in bulk. They send me money and I send them their goods.”
While working as an accountant, some money at her place of work got lost. Betty was sentenced to two years in prison.
“I was charged with stealing by servant. I was released after serving five months due to prison overcrowding,” Betty explained during a COFIW Monthly Meeting.
“I was married with one daughter. My husband stood with me throughout the trial process so when I went to prison, I knew that I had a family to go back to.”
Unfortunately, this was not to be. When she was released, nobody knew that she was out of prison since it was an unforeseen release. She made her way back home only to find another woman living in her house.
“At first I thought that I was in the wrong house.”
On speaking to her husband, he told her that he had moved on and that their daughter was now living with Betty’s sister. This was a great blow.
“I cried a lot. I took time off to heal my heart. I didn’t look for a job at first and instead focused on restructuring. I was then living with my sister.”
Betty then started looking for a source of income.
“My degree meant nothing. I couldn’t get a Certificate of Good Conduct [which many employers need before hiring you] and so I couldn’t get formal employment. I turned to casual jobs like washing people’s clothes which enabled me to put food on the table.”
It was upon meeting her friend who introduced her to errands and deliveries that she got her breakthrough and ventured into the online business world selling household goods. She has since branched out and expanded her business to include clothing items, toys, etc.
“With the worsening economy, I stopped importing goods. The high dollar rate meant that I’d have to price my goods too high to make a profit. So, I turned to sourcing from local wholesalers. So far so good.”
Apart from running her business and being a ToT, Betty is also pursuing her Master’s degree. She has also taken part in a skincare training organized by Clean Start in partnership with Kezula Skincare.
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