Our mitumba, our lives, say young traders
Their business is selling secondhand clothes. The six members of Mitumba Kenya started the venture seven years ago and are not about to change careers. This is what they want to do for as long as they can.
The members, four of whom are in Nairobi and two in the US came together in 2007 and with enough capital from their contributions, started importing secondhand clothes.
Instead of selling them per piece, they chose to do it in batches. The bales consisting of shoes, clothes, bedding, bags are later sold to retailers.
“After importing the bales, we sell them as packaged since the sorting has already been done by the time we get them,” said Herman Mburu, one of the partners.
The other local partners are Peter Njoroge, Laban Ng’ethe and Duncan Mombo.
The bales weighing about 45 kilos are sold according to type. Depending on the weight, a bale can have 45 pieces to 200 pieces of clothes.
For instance, a bale consisting of duvets with 16 to 22 pieces costs Sh16,500 while a bundle of male shirts goes for Sh21,000.
They import secondhand clothes at least thrice a month. The partners in the US organise the frequent shipment.
The group parts with about Sh4 million to Sh6 million and an additional Sh1 million to have a single shipment dock at Mombasa port and transferred to their storage facility at Mumbai Stores, Gikomba market.
They make their sales through referrals and via social media especially on Facebook.
“We also make deliveries outside Nairobi as long as clients pay for the bales together with the courier fee,” added Mombo.
They plan to conquer East Africa by first making foray into Tanzania.
To boost sales, Mitumba Kenya has had to build an expansive network (mainly through referrals), a personal relationship and trust with clients.
“Following up on clients has always been our top agenda. We call to enquire about their welfare and if they have any difficulties we advise them accordingly. For us business never ends with the sale of the batch,” said Mombo.
They have another stall on Moi Avenue to serve clients who find it hard going to Gikomba market.
Mr Mombo and Mr Ndung’u said ladies and children’s clothes are the fast moving items in the market while schoolbags are in demand when schools open.
On a slow day, they sell five to 10 bales, while there are days they get as many as 30 customers.
The duo cited previous and current governments’ threats to ban mitumba as one of the main challenges.
Their plea to the government is that it should consider the business as one of the ways of creating jobs for youths.