The young Ruth Jelimo now earning between Sh200,000- Sh700,000 monthly is a living example of sheer determination to succeed against odds in the modern society
It was in 2003, while preparing to report back to school in Form Two, that her father came home and chased her mother and siblings away.
He raced her across a maize plantation tearing her uniform.
Ruth Jelimo’s father, a former soldier whose illustrious career was cut short after the failed 1982 coup, swore never to see her children and wife in their 100 acres ancestral land.
With a mother, who was a peasant farmer without land to farm, life became unbearable for her siblings. This forced Jelimo to engage in any kind of job to make ends move and pay for her education.
When she finally graduated from the Kenya Methodist University two years ago, Ruth started an unsuccessfully journey to secure a job.
“I went home for the first time in January last year, hoping to reason with my father so that he would at least give me a small piece of land to plant maize and keep cattle,” the young entrepreneur with a lovely smile says.
When her father refused to even come and meet her last born daughter face to face, she knew that she had to do something different to make money. “
By then, I was a marketer for an entertainment event and conference facility,” she recalls. “The little money I obtained I used it for my upkeep and that of my family including my mother whom I used to her rent in a single rented room.” One rainy morning, as she sheltered from the rains at the Nairobi City Council offices (now Nairobi County offices), Ruth decided to take a tour of city hall. “I had seen adverts and wondered how much was required to put up one,” she says. “I grew up with a passion for advertisements and I hoped that someday I had do branding and advertising.”
At the Nairobi County Department of Urban, Design and Development, she got an explanation of the procedure required before she would start to advertise in the city.
She at least required Sh28, 000 before starting. Without enough capital, she reached out to her cousin who loaned her Sh42, 000.
Owning a firm
In May 2012, the 24-year old started her own company Display and Reach Communication, a creative source company that engages in marketing promotions, outdoor advertising, branding and event management, using the borrowed funds.
It took her almost two months to get the first client. “My first work was an advertising and branding job with the NGO Faida Kenya operating in Daadab refugee camp,” she recalls. “I branded t-shirts, caps, banners and vehicles donated to the organisation by UNHCR for a project.”
From the first job that earned Sh400, 000 in profit, Ruth has never looked back. Her business gives her a monthly income of between Sh200, 000 and Sh700, 000. “I reinvested the profit in buying more space for advertisements. This opened the floodgate for other business opportunities,” she says.
Faida Kenya remains one of her customers in the lists of her clients that include KFC, Samsung, Mojos Club, Pago Airways and Best Western Hotel.
The business has been a bridge in reviving family ties. “My business has reconciled me with the family. We have gone back to our ancestral land and my father now treats me like her daughter again,” she says.
Ruth’s plans includes expanding her business to the East African region, importing machines for her branding works and creating jobs for fellow youth. “I have shown that young people can create their own employment,” she says.
“I have received over 100 job applications from youth and I hope that with favourable business and expansion of my company I might provide employment to them.”
At her company, she handles multiple roles. She is the marketer, chief executive, and even secretary. Ruth has one permanent employee who handles technical work and five part time employees.
“I want to expand my business so that I can create more employment opportunities for my fellow youth. But we need help in terms of mentorship and capital injection,” she says.
Ruth has applied for government tenders and hopes that the President’s promise to provide more opportunities for youth will be her lucky star.
While speaking during the 50th Anniversary of the African Union, President Uhuru called for the empowerment of the youth in Africa so as to allow them exploit and harness the potential of the continent.
The president has ordered the new Cabinet Secretaries to involve the youth in their programmes and activities.
He has directed that 30 per cent of public procurement be granted to youth enterprises in order to create opportunity for them to grow in the world of business and create employment.
The deeply religious lady who is still the breadwinner of her family is happy that their father has reconciled with the rest of the family.
She says with the much needed parental love and support and the government promise to empower young entrepreneurs, she will be able to grow her business and support more unemployed youth. –The Standard