Shamas Wandembo comes from a humble background. He hails from the coastal region of Kenya. He started his business so as to fight poverty in his region as well as improve his living conditions and educate his children. Shamas then relocated to Nairobi’s Kawangware area and put up a carpentry workshop that has a display area. The name of his workshop is Lamu Furniture. He has worked in this shop for ten years now and he does not regret it. Shamas is a Micro Africa, Kenya branch client.
His father was a carpenter in Mombasa who made furniture and doors, popularly known as Lamu doors. When Shamas was young he used to help his father at his workshop, and later when he became of age, his father initiated him in the art of carpentry by teaching him how to make the furniture (beds, sofa sets, cupboards, entertainment units etc), including the Lamu doors which his father informed him that he himself learned how to make from a European friend back when he was young. Lamu doors are large and heavy with beautiful designs curved on them of authentic inspirational Swahili culture and have a history dating back 1000 years. These doors are common in Lamu and Zanzibar where they are found on most houses, even on those of the poor. Shamas eventually became a carpenter himself and relocated to Nairobi in 2002 where he put up his workshop and also resides. Some of his work goes for up to 100 Euros a piece and business is really doing well.
MYC4, together with Micro Africa’s loan officer Jobes, visited Shamas Wandembo at his workshop in Kawangware where we found him and his workers busy working on their latest order, a sofa set. Shamas had taken a MYC4 loan of 275 Euros and had used the amount to buy raw materials such as fabric and wood for his shop. This has enabled him cater for his clients’ needs like finishing wall units that were ordered and sofasets, and hence enlarge his clientele base. Because most clients are referred by his former customers, he also serves customers from different parts of Nairobi. Currently he serves clients from Kawangware, Amboseli and Dagoreti. He also employed two workers who help him in his day to day business and he has expanded the workshop. Before, his working space consisted of one room that was both the workshop and store and a small space for display. However, he now has a large space that he uses as his working space and the room is now his store.
When asked about how the MYC4 loan has helped him, he responded:
I was able to buy more raw materials and hence satisfy my clients’ needs. I have also been able to increase my clientele base and expand my workshop. I have employed two workers and business is good. I can afford to pay for my children’s school fees and especially my 25 year-old son’s who is at the University studying engineering.
Lamu furniture is doing very well and Shamas has had no problem paying up for his loan as the income he gets enables him to do that and much more. He plans on taking another loan to buy a wood cutting machine. This will enable him be more efficient in his work, hence make more furniture and in return satisfy his customers’ needs as well as expand his business further. This is a success story among many, stories that emphasize what MYC4 investors do when they lend money to small businesses such as Shamas’.