- She has harboured a love for clean carpets since childhood.
- Over 1.72 million jobs were lost in the first year of the pandemic
Wanjiru Mwangi was just a devoted 9 a.m.-5 p.m. employee, having worked both in the private and public sectors for the past 13 years.
But this was before Covid-19 in 2020 which disrupted the world's socioeconomic order, exposing Wanjiru and billions of others to the high cost of living, and job losses among other challenges.
It is estimated that 78 per cent of the global population currently at just over eight billion people is still reeling from the negative effects of the pandemic.
Behind the fading cloud of the pandemic that claimed 6.9 million lives is a tell of reengineered lives of people willing to go the extra mile to increase sources of income.
For Wajiru, she opted to turn her cleaning passion into a side hustle and hopes to fully concentrate on it someday. "Covid-19 was an eye-opener. It pushed me outside my comfort zone to start Shaba, a carpet cleaning firm.
I have harboured a love for clean carpets since childhood. When rented my first house, the carpet was the most expensive item in the room,'' Wanjiru told the Star. Armed with passion, extra off-duty time and family support but limited finances, the mother of three bought basic equipment: a water pipe and a scrubber.
"I was my very first client. My two carpets were the launching pad for the company that has since expanded into furniture, mattress and curtain cleaning. I did an elaborate research, assembled and trained a team that is part of Shaba Cleaning Limited,'' Wanjiru said.
She has since handled over 1,000 clients, both household and corporate and hopes to spread the business beyond Nairobi, infusing passion and professionalism to give her clients the best services.
Wanjiru adds that the hybrid working model adopted by most employers is a Covid-19 silver lining that is helping her juggle family, and formal employment and still rake in extra cash from the cleaning business.
She cites God and her husband as pillars of strength in a business that has seen her serve big clients like the Nyayo Embakasi
According to a survey by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), nine out of 10 Kenyan workers were unsure of keeping their jobs following the disruptions caused by the pandemic. Over 1.72 million jobs were lost in the first year of the pandemic.
Several firms turned to pay cuts. The worst hit were young people, especially job seekers who had graduated from various institutions of higher learning.
Kenya’s unemployment rate stood at 10.4 per cent from 5.2 per cent while the employment-to-population ratio hit 57.7 per cent from 64.4 per cent as more Kenyan youths remained unemployed while those who were hitherto gainfully employed joined the bandwagon.
Unlike most businesses opened by desperate breadwinners which collapsed a year after Covid-19 in 2022, Shaba Cleaning Limited is expanding at a faster rate.
Wanjiru continues to train more young people on products and best ways to clean especially carpets, correcting the trend where households take them to unprofessionals at car washes.
A strong believer in Anais Nin's maxim, 'Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage', Wanjiru is challenging the public to give a little focus on their passion and brew enterprising ideas.
What she started with a pipe and a scrubber has since expanded and now has state-of-the-art machines that ensure quality results in a short time.
She is part of the 35 per cent of workers in the formal sector who hope to turn side gigs into full-time jobs someday."I have been a project manager for both the private and public sectors for more than a decade now.
I believe I have given my best. As the business expands, it demands more time. I look forward to fully focusing on cleaning services," she said.
Data by FSD shows 55 per cent of those juggling formal jobs and own businesses are cautious to quit for fear of the unknown at the time inflation is hitting the roof. The remaining 10 per cent want to stick to their current jobs.
Like the other 40 per cent of employees who opened business to supplement income, she has been forced to adjust her day-to-day schedule to balance between family, job, and side hustle.
"Initially, I struggled to find a balance but have since adopted. Discipline, hard work and dedication are needed. "