By Lisbeth Overheu, Kenya Client Relationship Volunteer
Francis Kamau owns and runs the busy Hair Haven salon in the suburb of Githurai in northeastern Nairobi. The salon offers a variety of mens’ and womens’ hair and beauty services and while the salon is open all week, up to six staff are employed on the busiest day, Saturday. Francis also recently opened another small mens’ barbershop nearby where two more staff work.
Francis’ three Zidisha loans have allowed him to significantly expand his business. He has used loan funds to enlarge and upgrade the main salon, open the second barbershop and buy a variety of new equipment including chairs, clippers, hair dryers and a foot massager. He decided against buying the coffee machine and instead bought a TV which has been very popular with customers.
Francis’ latest expansion has been the renting of a small room behind his salon where he intends to open a small beauty training school to further increase his profits, train more potential staff for his own salons (most of Francis’ current staff were trained by him) and help others gain useful employment skills. His ultimate aim is to operate a large beauty training school and several different salons.
With the increased profits generated from his loans Francis has been able to invest in his business. He has also paid for his younger sister’s secondary education and hopes to fund her college studies later this year. He would also like to commence his own diploma in Hair and Beauty this year if he can save enough money.
Approaching 30, Francis hopes to get married one day and would like two children. He hopes having a successful business will allow him to support his family and give his children the educational opportunities that he himself didn’t have. While he completed his KCSE (Kenyan Certificate of Secondary Education), Francis was unable to attend college or university due to a lack of funds.
When Francis isn’t working at least six days a week he plays the guitar (which he taught himself how to play) and sings in his local church most weeks. He is also a member of an informal local businessperson’s group where he meets weekly with other local entrepreneurs to share ideas and assist each other with challenges. Francis also enjoys watching Manchester United play in the European football leagues and is supporting The Netherlands in the current football World Cup.
Francis is very polite, friendly and focused on customer service. So, coupled with his fierce determination to succeed with his business plans, he has a great chance of success. As I watch Francis deftly wax, twirl and comb a customer’s dreadlocks into submission I know exactly where to come next time I need a haircut in Nairobi.
Mr. Kamau has successfully repaid three Zidisha loans and has recently raised a fourth, which he used to purchase more hair-cutting equipment for new employees in his barber shop. You may read Francis’ story in his own words at his Zidisha profile page.