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Start small and grow rich

Eric Kinoti is 28 years old and one of the youngest self-made millionaires in the country.

He is the founder of Shades System East Africa, a firm that manufactures and supplies luxury tents in East Africa.

The company is now worth Sh150 million.

His clients include East Africa Breweries, Toyota Kenya, the Department of Defence and Bata.

What is his secret to success?

“Be focused. Keenly monitor emerging business trends both locally and internationally and compare how similar enterprises are performing in other countries,’’ says Mr Kinoti.


He used to sell eggs in Mombasa to raise the Sh60,000 capital required to start his business.

Kinoti started it when a friend asked him if he could provide one for a function.

“I started Shades System four years ago with only five employees and an initial capital of Sh60,000. I saw a business opportunity because this sector was predominantly controlled by non-Kenyans,’’ said Kinoti at his office in Westlands, Nairobi.

His first deal involved school supplies followed by a military tender that saw him pocket over Sh15 million.

Buoyed by the good returns, Kinoti knew there was no looking back.

The demand for tents is mostly from the corporate world. Individuals only come when there is a family or occasional outdoor function.

“We provide restaurant canopies, marquees, swimming pool shades, garden umbrellas, branded gazebos, bouncing castles, carpark shades among others,’’ he said.

His clients come from as far as Ethiopia, Somalia, Rwanda, Congo, Burundi and South Sudan.