Beauty For Waste
Prior to getting involved with EPTF, Thomas Okanga, a father of two and a guardian to other two , was one of many men in Kenya working as casual laborers. Mr. Okanga dropped out of school due to lack of school fees and traveled from his rural home of Suba in Nyanza to Nairobi in search of a better life.
Fast forward to today, Thomas runs an artifact business based on recycling horns and waste bones from cows and camels to curve jewelry. Lagas artifacts is the name of his business in which he makes earrings neck pieces, and bangles. This process starts by boiling the bones, sun drying them and applying potassium permanganate to give the jewelry a touch of color.
After he started his business, Thomas had no immediate success as he was just starting out. He reflects on how his first steps towards the entrepreneurship journey were hard as he had no capital base. “ I had to work at EPZ for a whole year so as to raise capital to start my business,” he says.
Mr. Okanga set up his business but it did not take off immediately as he lacked entrepreneurial skills on bookkeeping and marketing.
In 2013, EPTF through the SEAL project funded by the Swedish Mission Council intervened and trained Thomas on Entrepreneurship and that is when he got his breakthrough. Thomas from then has been applying the skills taught during the training such as recording keeping, money management and even developing a business plan that he has used to source for finance to expand his business.
Through EPTF’s table banking training, Thomas now sets aside savings from his income and is on a positive track with a turnover of 50,000 ($500) from 20,000 ($200) per month. He attributes his success to the training on good client relations and introduction to new markets by EPTF.
Apart from his earning Thomas mobilized his craftsmen colleagues and together they formed and registered The Kibra handcraft marketing cooperative society whereby Thomas is the treasurer and now they are able to support one another, exchange ideas and meet high market.
Thomas can now comfortably take care of his four children and not only that, he has a positive impact to his environment as he turns waste into beauty.