Daniel Mugendi: I Dropped Out of School in Standard Six, Now I Make Up to Sh 30,000 a Month from Making Furniture.

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On a serene Sunday afternoon, a sight that has become familiar to passersby along the bustling Mombasa-Malindi highway is that of Daniel Mugendi, a self-made carpenter.

These seemingly simple sticks will soon transform into beautifully handcrafted poolside beds and an array of other exquisite furniture pieces.

With his open-air furniture shop strategically located at a junction heading to the esteemed Pride Inn Paradise Beach Resort in Shanzu, Mombasa, Mugendi’s craftsmanship and passion have made him a well-known figure in the community.

The journey of this self-made carpenter has been one of grit and determination, beginning with a life-changing event that forced him to drop out of school in Class Six due to the inability to afford school fees.

This setback led him to resort to casual labor to make ends meet. However, fate had other plans for Mugendi. A visit to his grandfather’s rural home in Meru County proved to be a turning point as he discovered his natural inclination and talent for carpentry.

Under the guidance of his grandfather, Mugendi honed his skills in woodworking, gradually mastering the art of creating sturdy and aesthetically pleasing furniture.

With unwavering determination and a small amount of savings, he ventured to Mombasa, where he set up his open-air furniture shop.

Now, seated under the tree, surrounded by raw materials, he transforms neem tree sticks sourced from various locations in Mombasa and Kilifi counties into functional and visually appealing pieces of furniture.

Neem trees were chosen for their resistance to termite infestation, a common concern in the region. By adding a protective coat of paint, Mugendi further ensures that his creations remain durable and free from insect invasions.

His versatile craftsmanship extends to a wide range of furniture, including TV stands, shoe racks, poolside beds, kitchen stools, handbag holders, and tables.

Each item is meticulously crafted, taking a day’s effort to complete, a testament to his dedication to quality.

His strategic location by the roadside has proven to be a boon for business. It attracts both random passersby and numerous referrals from satisfied customers. While the majority of his clients are locals, tourists seeking unique, handcrafted pieces also frequent his shop.

With prices ranging between Sh500 and Sh3,000 per item, Mugendi’s exquisite creations garner a net profit of at least Sh30,000 monthly.

However, like any entrepreneur, Mugendi faces a set of challenges in his pursuit of success. One of the major concerns is theft, a common issue for roadside businesses.

To safeguard his workshop, he occasionally hires a night guard, adding to his operating costs. Additionally, the rainy season presents its own set of problems as the furniture may get wet due to inadequate shelter.

With a keen eye on the future, Mugendi envisions growth and expansion. To tackle the issue of theft and weather-related challenges, he plans to invest in a permanent furniture shop on his own land. This strategic move would not only mitigate current challenges but also create a solid foundation for the expansion of his business.

Mugendi’s dream extends beyond personal success; he aims to attract more hotels as clients, offering them his unique and reasonably priced furniture. He understands the potential for growth and profitability in tapping into the hospitality industry, where demand for quality and aesthetically pleasing furniture is high.

But beyond his entrepreneurial aspirations, Mugendi has a greater mission — to inspire the youth. He fervently encourages young people to embrace their skills and talents, turning them into opportunities for self-employment and job creation.

Rejecting the notion that certain jobs are degrading, he emphasizes the potential for financial success and fulfillment in harnessing one’s skills in today’s competitive world.

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