BY VICTOR ADAR
You know times are tough when you lose a document. Loss of important documents like national identification cards, passports, automatic teller machines cards and student cards can throw you into real disarray. And many times you only have to blame yourself and even wish that your mobile number or that of your mum appeared somewhere on your missing documents. Without some documents, you are edged out of doing certain things such as making mobile money transactions from banks and agencies.
But now there is a reason to smile about thanks to one Ken Kamanja, an out of the box thinker who imagined a venture to solve such problems. The 24 years old and a journalism and mass communication Diploma Certificate holder from Nairobi Institute of Business Studies is currently making handsome cash from a sticker printer machine, mainly labelling not only office equipment but also national identification cards, ATMs as well as job cards, just but to mention a few.
“I started with one printer,” he says. “I usually put phone numbers on personal cards so that when they get lost they can easily be traced back to the owner. It is a problem-solving business and the response is very good. For example when you lose a passport you end up paying up to Sh10, 000 for replacement, an ATM replacement goes for Sh500 and sometimes the ID too can be a headache when replacing it especially when you need it most hence, when you increase traceability of these documents, you will have saved a lot of money and time and.”
Mr Kamanja was bitten by entrepreneurship bug in November last year and since then he has never looked back that for the couple of months that he has been at it, things are clicking. He recalls deliberating about the issue of lost identity cards with some of his civil servant friends where it became clear that more often than not, Kenyans change mobile phone numbers, explaining the reason why it is not wise to print private numbers on national identification cards, for example.
Some how the people he shared his golden idea with got lost in the moment and found his story un-moving especially going by the fact that today an individual could be on “this number and tomorrow on a different one” but finally the young man decided to give it a try, registering a company called Anjamak Empire Ventures to do the works.
“The market is really demanding since it is a new thing. It’s a removable sticker hence you will not have issues with the government. It’s a sticker that you can peel off at will without interfering with the original status of the card you are dealing with,” he says.
The young man did not have deep pockets in the beginning having started off with a capital of Sh12, 000, money, which he spent on purchasing one printer. It turns out, surprisingly, that this is not a heavy commercial printing machine but a portable gadget that can fit in a sling bag just comfortably. With this he avoided expenses to do with rent, good will, electricity and even water bills, the few things that spell doom to entrepreneurs starting up.
According to Trading Economics global macro models, unemployment rate in Kenya is likely to oscillate at around 24% in 2020. Begging the question, why can’t the youth replace the usual thinking that individuals must be employed after studies in order to make a living?
A time when unemployment rate is pushing against a working-age population of 25.5 million, a number which is expected to hit 39.2 million by 2030, reflecting what is happening in the economic and job arena. Add these figures to the type of job losses witnessed from the financial sector to manufacturing, you will see how quite heart-breaking the situation is.
Despite the dark clouds, Kamanja seems to have an advantage, and is nothing like the many bad minded young people who still cling on the narrative that jobs are scarce. He has employed four temporary sales people that he pays based on commission, which translates to quite lower operational costs.
The cassette that contains the stickers has 150 stickers, with each bundle going for Sh2000. Should you charge a minimum of Sh30 on a good day you are capable of making a profit of Sh2500. In a day, you can use a range of 2-3 cassettes.
“It costs between Sh30 to Sh200 depending on the client and also the type of card that is being labelled. When labelling passports, driving licences, student school cards, ATMs… those I charge a minimum of Sh100. If you aim at the target of a 150 documents which is very easy since most Kenyans have identification cards, you will be going home with not less than Sh2, 000 in a day,” he says.
But in this bright business, you cannot forget ups and downs. The main challenge of which is a seasonal one is to do with the forth coming General Election. He says: “We are in an election period and some of our clients tend to think that we are stealing their votes when we ask for their identification cards.”
Some of the personal items that Kamanja labels include not just national identity cards, but also passports, driving licences, and students’ school identification cards. He can also label materials such as school uniforms as well as office files as the labels cannot react with water or other chemicals. Still, about the uniform, what is used is a sticker but one that is applicable on washable materials.
Tackling the issue of lost items and documents by offering an option of tracing them back is seemingly paying off so much that the young man has moved into not only labelling but also selling the actual machines to those who are interested in doing a similar kind of business. Armed with Sh15, 000 (unlike the Sh12, 000 which this particular entrepreneur started with) you are good to go.
“The loss of personal documents especially national identification cards is a big blow to many individuals. When I go to some higher learning institutions, students line up for my services because replacing a lost student card, leave alone other cards, is not cheap,” he says.