Perfection Plus Limited
Some parents are known for telling their grown children, “I worked hard for this! work for your own.” Others are even known for deeming their children as ‘careless’ and leaving their property to charitable organizations. We also know of parents who dreamt of becoming lawyers or doctors and when they failed, chose to live these dreams through their children.
As we drive towards Kikuyu, a semi-rural locality in the outskirts of Nairobi, we chat excitedly about how interesting it will be to interview a parent who has mentored their child in business. To us this is a rare opportunity especially in this part of Africa.
Constance Johnson (Connie) grew up in Kingston, Jamaica in a family of four siblings. Her parents exposed them to various activities and they became skilled in how to tailor clothes, woodwork and package items. They were also not exempt from daily chores. Connie’s mother was a designer and a crafts lady and her father an offset printer. “I learned precision from my dad and at the age of 14 years, I cut and stitched my first dress without mom’s help,” she added.
In 1969, she traveled to Kenya having met her husband at a church in the USA and settled in Kijabe with the hope of becoming a missionary. “I came to spend time and share the gospel of Christ with women and children,” she said. As God willed, she also found another avenue to share the gospel. She remembered that she and her mother would write biblical messages on plaster-of-Paris as gift items for friends or for sale to support needy girls in her hometown. “I wrote to my mother and it took six months for me to receive the plaster -of -Paris moulds and tools from Jamaica,” she chuckled.
Biblical words of wisdom and encouragement were written on beautifully designed plaster- of -Paris plaques for display as wall hangings in homes. This is how Mapendezi Enterprise began.
Dreams of becoming a veterinary doctor
Connie has two sons; John & George. During school holidays, she would ensure that they were occupied and engaged in different activities. For exposure, they would go out for long walks, attend art exhibitions, music concerts and also visit various parks. “We worked at Mapendezi Enterprise during our school holidays and mom would ensure that we got some money in exchange for our services. She also opened bank accounts for us and taught us how to save the money for future use,” George adds.
“At some point, I dreamt of becoming a veterinary doctor and for this, my mother brought me some animals so that I can get a feel of w
hat it takes to care for them. I remember taking care of a cat, a dog, a hedgehog, a hawk, a sheep, some hens, some rabbits
and some fish in my early years,” George discloses. “When I wanted to become a pilot, my mother introduced me to my former school principal – a former Kenya Air Force fighter pilot” George adds.
Connie has always been interested and very supportive of her children’s dreams and hopes at every stage.
After his high school studies, George was officially employed at Mapendezi Enterprise. He brought with him innovative ideas such as printing persuasive messages on wood. The two brothers later branched out to form Perfection Plus Limited, a company that produces functional craft items with inspirational messages from environmentally sustainable woods.
Parents can also be great mentors
Building three generations of crafts has been rewarding and challenging at the same time. Parenting comes out as a key component in ensuring continuity. It is clear that children require exposure and encouragement at every stage in life. While there are many disappointments for the parents in the choices the child makes, that should not deter parents from supporting their children. With time, George has learned to consult his mom and seek her advice in matters pertaining to art. She also assists in the area of production and administration. George still believes that his mom is a better artist even though he has brought many technological innovations to the company. Parents need to realize that children are different and need individual support.“John knew at a tender age that he would be an artist while George was adventurous and wanted to try out different things before he eventually discovered his artistic side,”reflects Connie. Expose children to various activities as much as possible. Little did George and his brother realize they were gaining life skills by working in the family business.
Connie is in her 70s and her greatest fulfillment is in knowing she allowed her children to follow the leading of the Lord and be at a place where they are happy. George’s two year old son hasbegun visiting the workshop. Who knows; it could be a fourth generation of crafts in the making!
About George Kinuthia
George is a beneficiary of the EPTF training & credit services programs and has continued to run his company based on the triple bottom line approach of profits, people and planet. A lesson he learned from the CSR session.
He employs people from his neighbourhood as a form of community transformation.