Mohammed Noor Kimani, Founder Amana Exports Company

Mohammed Noor Kimani is the true reflection of a hustler. At his lowest ebb he was roaming the streets, and at one point he was a hawker, a tout, a teacher and a milkman. The 32-year-old man is today the owner of an export business, Amana Exports Company that deals with household equipment such as electrical appliances, perfumes, shoes and clothes. His journey to where he is today has been tempered by pain and a resolve to get to the top despite the hurdles on his way.

Using drugs

At the age of 10, he lost his father and from the early stages he lived with his grandmother in the vast Kawangware slum.

“Life was difficult and I was really frustrated. My parents divorced when I was young. In fact, I began using drugs at the age of 12 to ease my pain,’’ says Mohammed, popularly referred to as Moha Kim. All he ever wanted was to attend school and change his life for the better. During that process, he endured multiple mishaps including being sent away for lack of school fees, contemplating suicide thrice and even becoming a street child.

“It was a defining phase because I went through so much. But in my mind, I knew I would make it no matter what,’’ he adds. He credits a Non-governmental Organisation, Plan International and his aunt, Zainab Wambui for helping him get through school.

Kimani knew to make it in life, he had to stop doing drugs and make difficult decisions.

“I did not want to cry and complain while hiding in drugs. I had to fix it. So, I began a process of reclaiming myself. I left streets and got a job selling wares at Kawangware market. My sister was instrumental in my recovery process,’’ he says. One of the worst phases of his life was in 2009, when his grandmother died.  Even through the tumultuous period in his life, his entrepreneurial spirit was evident.

Business deals

To get into college, he became a matatu tout, earning about Sh1,000 a day. For two years, he balanced studies and his touting job to make ends meet. In 2006, he got his first formal job as a French and computers teacher in a private school based in Nairobi. At the age of 22, , he was providing for his grandmother and mother, who got retrenched from the Public Service on his Sh7,000 salary.

His big break came in 2008 when he went to Saudi Arabia. “It was exciting for me and I made the gamble of selling all my household goods to get a visa,’’ he says. In Saudia Arabia, he worked as a milkman in the town of Al Harj, earning a modest salary of Sh20,000 monthly.

In 2012, he went to Beijing and through a contact got a job within two weeks. Mohammed got a job as an English teacher even as he tried to get business deals using his Sh50,000 salary. In August 2012, he teamed up with a friend to start a home appliances business in Shenzhen. In 2013, Mohammed set up his export firm, Amana Exports Company on Facebook. Through word of mouth and referrals he has built a client base of 2,000 customers, 400 of whom have become regulars.

“I combined work and business. I shopped for stuff on weekends. I had to give it my all since I got big clients who could pull in figures in the region of millions,’’ he says.

Currently, Amana Exports Company deals with clients from as far as the USA, Australia and Nigeria. It is targeting clients in India and United Kingdom.

“We want to grow to become the market leader. I am also thinking of merging our local online space with Amazon to arrange smart deals,’’ he says.

Initially published by bizna.com

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