By Betsy Ramser Jaime
Raya Theofilo was born to build. Born in 1976, he was the seventh child of the late Joseph Raya and Rachel Umazi. He attended Mazeras Primary School from 1983 to 1990 but realized after completing his KCPE exam that his father did not have the money to send him to high school. Out of necessity, Raya first dipped his toes into the entrepreneurial pool by selling fish. As is often the case for a first time entrepreneur, it did not do well and he ended up pursuing courses in Electronics from 1993-1994. Afterwards, he went to Mombasa and worked in motor rewinding and electrical installation. Later on he transitioned to a new job at Ashton Apparel where he did electrical maintenance. At this point, the main struggle that he experienced was that he was earning a very low salary of KSh 3,500 per month.
Raya knew that his best option was to open his own workshop, and looking back he knows that he made the right decision because his business is doing well. In his business he repairs electronics and electrical appliances such as: TV’s, DVD players, radios, iron boxes, fans, etc. He also sells these items secondhand and does some house electrical installation work as well.
Raya has succeeded in his business venture for a few reasons. First, he found a need in his local community. He knew that his customers wanted to purchase electronics but required an affordable price. The answer turned out to be selling secondhand electronics rather than brand new electronics. Another reason behind his success is that he chose a business that did not require a large amount of starting capital, making the barriers to entry fairly low for him. Finally, his income potential has skyrocketed compared to his previous jobs. With his current business, Raya is able to make a minimum profit of KSh 30,000 and a maximum profit of KSh 60,000 per month compared to the KSh 3,500 that he earned in his earlier job.
Through the success of his business he has been able to use his profits for food, medicine, school fees for his children as well as money to increase his stock for his business. His business has afforded him the opportunity to pay for his children’s education in a way that he did not have himself as a child.
When he’s not busy at work, Raya is an involved family man and loves taking part in family activities and tending to their coconut trees. His first born child dreams of being a journalist and his second child would like to be a pilot someday. Raya also enjoys listening to Congo music and spending time in the kitchen where he helps his wife with the cooking and teaches his children how to cook delicious food.
While Raya found himself with a wonderful family and thriving business, he dreamed of moving out of his father’s home and having a home to call his own. So far, he has received three Zidisha funded loans to put towards his home construction, his first being in May of 2016 for $200. This first loan was used to purchase building materials to construct his new home. He bought 4 lorries of building stone for $55 each.
A few months later in September 2016 he was able to keep building with a loan of $498 to buy more supplies. He purchased 6 lorries of building stone for $45 each, 3 lorries of building sand at $35 each, 1 lorry of chips for $140, as well as 20 bags of cement. Shortly thereafter, on September 30, he posted on his discussion page, ‘My family is now happy because they have started seeing their dream house. Thank you lenders for the loan.’
Most recently, in March 2017 Raya received a Zidisha funded loan of $1,078 where he paid $400 for the contractor to create the foundation for his home. He also purchased 20 more bags of cement ($6.50 each) for the foundation and 20 bags of cement for building the house. In addition, he added 40 pieces of iron sheets costing $10 each and 5 windows for $3.50 each. Finally, he also purchased wood for his roof costing $100.
In his most recent update on April 30, 2017, Raya was excited to share some photos with his lenders and noted, ‘As you can see, the house is supposed to be big but I decided to build just part of it and build the other parts after receiving the next loan. We all say long live ZIDISHA. With zidisha my dream becomes true. Thank you very much.’
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