From the Ground Up

Rose Karanja

Rose Karanja is from Ongata Rongai, Kenya. Rose has had a difficult life. But when times got hard, Rose blossomed. Being a single women raising two younger siblings is no easy feat by any means. Consider the fact that Rose then decided to enter the male dominated construction industry, and you can start to get an idea of Ms. Karanja’s tenacity and work ethic.

Our in-country Client Relationship Manager, Achintya Rai, recently met with Ms. Karanja. Read about his encounter with Rose below:

Hello lenders,

My name is Achintya Rai and I am Zidisha’s Kenya Client Relationship Manager. This Friday (9th March 2012) I visited Rose Karanja at one of her building sites in Ongata Rongai near Nairobi.

Rose is a beautiful young woman whose is a fascinating story of grit and entrepreneurial spirit. Rose’s mother died when she was young and she was brought up by her grandmother. When Rose was in from four (the last year of secondary school) her grand mother also passed away. She has been working since then to take care of her two siblings.

She started by supplying food to people working on construction sites. That is how she learnt about the construction business, traditionally considered a forte of men. She saw an opportunity and started a construction material supply business. Rose is a very confident and pleasant person and I can visualize her as a great networker. She made contacts that helped her get business. She got a contract to supply ballast (small pieces of stone), which she fulfilled by buying stones and then hiring labor to break them into small pieces. With the proceeds she bought sand and supplied in small quantities. Later she started sourcing sand directly from the rivers and her business grew. 

Her Zidisha loan was used to buy sand, ballast and other supplies. 

Recently, because of her contacts and good work, she also got contracts to build two houses on a plot of ½ acres. Rose seemed delighted with this development and is going to focus on the construction business as a priority. This new contract will entail hiring an engineer (which could cost 100,000 to 150,000 shillings a year), buying material, hiring labor and overseeing the construction work. 

With her next Zidisha loan, Rose wants to buy a vibrator machine, which is used to mix concrete. In the future, when she has sufficient funds, she wants to go back to school and get a degree in Civil Engineering (she has shortlisted a University in Uganda) and then start her own construction company.

I see in Rose the making of a great businesswoman and armed with her networking skills, business acumen and glittering smile, she is sure to be an entrepreneur to be reckoned with. And she is just 28.

11th March 2012
Nairobi, Kenya 

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