Mimi Huuza Viatu; I Sell Shoes
Elijah Mwanzia, known to his friends as Kanze, is a 22-year-old third-year student at Riara University studying International Relations. Besides being a student, he vends sneakers in Nairobi.
Kanze began selling sneakers online, specifically on WhatsApp in 2019 and he has grown since then. His mother inspired him to get into the business of selling sneakers since she also sells shoes. “Luku ni lazima, your shoe game has to make a statement,” he said. When asked why he started selling sneakers, he stated that besides getting inspiration from his mother, being broke also made him do it. He thought it was wise to start doing something that would make him earn, no matter how small the earnings would be.
“I reached out to a couple of vendors who hooked me up. They would send me pictures of their stock then I would post them on my WhatsApp status, get clients and that is just how I started,” he uttered.He is glad that he took the initiative to reach out to vendors because aside from having something to do, rather than staying idle, he is earning.
Kanze’s interests include traveling, binge-watching cartoons, his preferences being Family Guy, The Simpsons, and Rick and Morty. He also enjoys photography. His interest in photography was piqued when he was a child but he started taking photographs in 2017, as soon as he completed high school. He enjoys taking pictures of nature, his favorite being sunsets. He relishes going to rooftops of buildings when the sun is just about to set so he can savor the beauty of the sinking sun as he takes pictures of it. He also does portraits and street photography.
When questioned on the opportunities that the business has presented him with, Kanze expressed that it has given him exposure. “When I get clients and they are happy with my services and sneakers, they usually post testimonials in the form of videos and sometimes upload pictures on their social media platforms tagging me, and that is how i get more clients. Referrals from satisfied customers have contributed to the growth of my business,” he stated.
One of the challenges that Kanze has experienced in the business is competition in the market. He affirmed that sometimes it can be difficult getting clients. He stated that he has ever gone a day without receiving any orders. Apart from the competitive market, he voiced that he sometimes has to make deliveries to far-off places such as Juja, Kiambu, among others on his own since he does not have a rider or delivery personnel and having one means more expenses. These together with other challenges have sometimes taken a toll on his mental well-being, i.e. the stress affects even how he performs in class.
“An idle mind is the devil’s workshop, therefore I urge my fellow youth to engage themselves in something that will benefit them either for self-growth or for money. Crime does not pay.” To government of Kenya, he pleaded that it provides loans to young people to access capital to start businesses and also to support young small business owners and youth in general via mentorship.
In today’s world, the reality is that so many young people get a higher education but turn out to pursue different paths that are totally unrelated to their degrees. This might be the case with Kanze. He may complete his International Relations degree, follow a career path in IR or end up getting a bigger shop for his business and grow tremendously, making him a successful business owner in the shoe industry.
Organization of African Youth is committed to champion meaningful youth engagement and Kanze is among the youth making efforts to make a living in their youthful years.
To view Kanze’s Photography work, click on the link below: