Meet YEPI Entrepreneur, Michael Kiwo of Pollucare Cleaners.
Michael Kiwo says his entrepreneurship journey started in September 2016 when he attended Cohort 1 of the inaugural YEPI - Social Empowerment & Entrepreneurship Development (SEED) Program. The YEPI-SEED program helped him to identify a challenge in his community which turned to be a business opportunity. We caught up with Michael at the 2018 Governors Startup Challenge Boot camp in Diani, Kenya. Here is what he shared.
What is the story behind starting your business?
It was in 2016 when I noticed that our health centers are full of patients who are suffering from diseases which are related to poor hygienic conditions from their workplace or homes. That is when I saw the opportunity to offer a solution of providing affordable hygienic services which could also conserve our environment. With the rise of youth unemployment in our country, it was also a good chance for me to offer job opportunities to my fellow youths.
What is unique about your business and what service or solution does it offer?
We are about offering hygienic solution to our clients and not just cleaning, we focus to provide high quality services where client’s hygienic needs are under one roof. Pollucare Cleaners provide professional cleaning services (commercial and residential), waste management (collection and disposal), pest control and fumigation, landscaping and gardening as main services. Other services include; sofa set and carpet cleaning; events clean up and post construction cleaning.
Our clients are happy as they see us, as their trusted and reliable partners. Our services are customized such that we have rates for low income class, middle and high class. Our methods of payments are easy, customers can choose to pay via mobile money, cheque or cash.
What will you say has driven you to be successful in your business?
Starting a business is hard because of unending challenges which you face every day, but my passion for the environment and youths has been my daily motivation and driving force. I like to solve problems in my community, and making a positive change.
At Pollucare, we emphasize on team work which helps us to serve clients better and it leads to high performance in business. We usually keep our promises to clients and delivering more than what they expected.
How does your business help the community around you?
We conserve the environment in our waste management departments by collecting waste on time and disposing it at the right places. We do awareness to our clients on importance of observing hygiene and conserving the environment. We have also been participating in tree planting exercises in environment conserving activities such as street and beach cleaning.
By employing youths whom would turn to drugs and crimes when they are jobless, we reduce the rate of unemployment and its effects. We empower them to have better lives, start their own businesses and employ other youths too.
What challenges have you experienced since you started your business?
In this business there is a very stiff competition but with a unique selling point and understanding the needs of my customers, I was able to penetrate the market. Another challenge as a young entrepreneur is accessing funds to scale my business to the next level. Sometimes I am forced to borrow to serve my clients better.
How did you feel when you were selected to participate in GSC2018?
I was excited to be selected among 72 applicants; It was a moment of my life which motivated me to work harder to continue impacting more lives positively.
Please share any transforming story you’ve experienced so far.
Since I started Pollucare in 2016, I have grown my business very fast despite the challenges. We are now serving more than 30 household daily and revenue has grown by 30%. So far I am proud to have employed two youths and changed their lives. I see this as my daily inspiration believing there is more to be achieved.
I started while employed in a clearing firm but now I have fully ventured into my business and I have never had regrets as I am doing what I love.
What plans do you have to expand your business?
I am planning to expand my business to cover the whole of Mombasa then into neighboring counties. With waste collection I am planning to start a waste recycling plant in future. We have partnered with some recycling companies where we collect plastics and they process further.
"Big journeys begin with small steps"