Eunice Waithera’s journey from a young girl with dreams of becoming an engineer to a successful entrepreneur in the male-dominated shoe cleaning business is nothing short of inspirational.
Raised in Limuru, Eunice’s dreams took a detour when her father passed away while she was just 16 years old. The loss brought financial strain to her family, leaving her mother unable to provide the school fees required for Eunice to continue her education. F
aced with this sudden change in circumstances, Eunice had to reevaluate her aspirations and find a way to contribute to her family’s well-being.
Leaving formal education behind, Eunice found herself working as a housemaid in Nairobi.
For five years, she fulfilled the duties of this demanding job, displaying a commendable work ethic and determination to overcome life’s hurdles. However, the yearning for something more fulfilling led her to seek other opportunities.
Her journey took a turn when she secured a job as a waitress in Nakuru.
Despite the change, the new role failed to provide the satisfaction and purpose Eunice sought in her professional life. It was during this period that she discovered her unique talent for shoe cleaning, a skill she honed while working for someone else in Nakuru’s KANU street.
Working in a field traditionally dominated by men did not deter Eunice. Instead, she saw it as an opportunity to prove herself and make ends meet.
Her proficiency in cleaning safari boots set her apart, and her clientele quickly grew, generating significant revenue for her employer.
After four months on the job, Eunice decided to take a bold step towards independence.
Armed with savings amounting to Sh5000, she invested in her future. A seat costing Sh2000 became the foundation for her entrepreneurial venture, with the remaining funds dedicated to purchasing various shoe brushes and polish.
Venturing out on her own marked a turning point for Eunice. The stability and autonomy that came with being her own boss allowed her not only to meet her immediate needs but also to support her family and save for future endeavors. In an interview with Nation, she revealed that her monthly earnings ranged between Sh30,000 to Sh40,000.
Eunice’s success, however, did not come without its share of challenges. In a field where gender stereotypes prevailed, she faced skepticism about her ability to clean shoes effectively.
Some men questioned her proficiency, offering unsolicited opinions on suitable jobs for women, with shoe cleaning not making the list. Despite these prejudices, Eunice remained undeterred, focused on her goals and driven by the need to succeed in a field where she had found her niche.