Andrew Muriungi is the founder and managing director at Rhino Mabati Factory Limited. In 2015, the 40-year-old quit a well-paying managerial job in a leading media house to be his own boss.
He shared his career path story with the Sunday Nation.
I am the second born in a home of four siblings. I was born in Nairobi but we later moved to Meru where I attended DEB Primary School. My dad worked in the textile industry and we travelled a lot, something that gave my siblings and I exposure.
I attended Meru School for my high school education and later the University of Nairobi where I graduated with a Bachelor in Accounting and Economics degree.
Out of curiosity, I enrolled for an ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants), course the global body for professional accountants. Interestingly, when I was almost clearing, I saw an advertisement by a company that was specifically looking for someone who had specialized in ACCA.
I applied and got the job. My starting salary was Sh50,000 and this was quite a big deal then. It was a family organization and I loved what I was doing. However, one and a half year down the line, I felt I was not growing and I quit. The company’s management tried to persuade me to stay but my mind was made up. I left without a plan and was jobless.
Soon enough, though, I came across an advert from one of the leading media houses in the country. They were looking for digital business executives – it was at a time when digital media was getting established in the country.
I did not know anything in this field but I applied for the position all the same before I started doing some serious research around it, just in case I was invited for an interview. Digital media had taken off in other countries so there was enough information to help with my research.
As luck would have it, I got called for the interview and got the job. I was offered a retainer of Sh15,000. I knew nothing about this job but I was willing and ready learn. The advantage was, everybody else was trying to understand how digital works so I did not feel undeserving.
Leading media house
The first three months were difficult with no clear job description and trying to understand audiences. After about three months, I realized that customers in diaspora want to get business from here. My focus shifted from Kenyan customers to those in the diaspora and this worked.
After about seven months, things started looking up and the company started cashing in. After serving as a junior digital business executive for one and a half years, I was promoted. The promotions kept coming for the period I worked there.
After seven years, I left for another leading media house in the country as an agency business manager. A few months in, I felt it was about time to quit employment. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do but I was sure I didn’t want to be employed anymore.
In 2015, after working in the media house for one year, I resigned and left armed with nothing else but my savings and a dream. My family and close associates could not understand how I was leaving a good job with an enviable salary to venture into something I knew nothing about. My dad sent elders to try and talk me out of my ‘mad’ decision but my mind was made up.
A year earlier, I was constructing my family house and it proved a hectic and costly affair. Being that I was not always on the site, there was a lot of roof-material wastage. I got talking to friends who had constructed houses before and the narrative was the same. This is when the idea of Rhino Mabati was birthed. I was determined to introduce customized sheets to the market.
In 2016 we started putting everything together. It was not easy at all and quite often I questioned my vision. The lowest moment came when we had produced our first products and was all excited to start off when it occurred to me we had do branding and get the KEBs approval. The total cost for this was about Sh1.6million which we didn’t have. I had to make a drastic decision which was to sell my wife’s car. We cleared this and finally opened our Rhino Mabati Factory Limited doors in Kitengela.
Four years down the line, I have no regrets at all. Rhino Mabati Factory has three branches in the country – in Kitengela, Western and Meru. We have also been recognized in the market and bagged several awards. Other than that, we have created jobs for the youth and about 200 families indirectly depend on our factory for a livelihood. At 40, I am the oldest employee here.
I derive great satisfaction in seeing our clients happy and content. We have a growing clientele because our clients keep referring us to others in their circle. We promise to deliver happiness to our clients and that is exactly what we do. The fact that we customize roofing materials as per client’s need in terms of size, texture and colour sets us apart from the rest in the industry. We also offer free delivery services across the country.
My advice to the Kenyan youth is that they should not wait to have enough capital to start a business. Instead, identify a gap, come up with a solution, believe in yourself and start-off. I would also encourage the young people to venture into the manufacturing industry. Do not be afraid of taking risks remember you have the advantage of age.