Margaret Kariuku — A self-established businesswoman


March 10th, 2017

Margaret Kariuku is a Kenyan woman who has not had the easiest path to success. As a mother of four, she has struggled to find a stable income to provide for herself and her children.

“Three times, I have had to start again. Three times, I have had to rebuild my livelihood. It all begun in 2005, when I stopped working as a secretary in Nakuru town. I thought that I would get my life sorted, but as fate would have it, this would not be.MargaretKariuki2 (002)

After she finished working as a secretary, she moved to her father’s farm, hoping to re-establish herself as a farmer. At first, her maize crops yielded well. However, as the days passed, her crops went down. By the third year, there was nothing left to harvest, and Margaret needed to decide what to do next.

“I picked up the pieces and decided to set up a milk collection centre. I bought milk from the farmers and sold it to the residents. I also decided to buy a motorcycle. When it was not used to collect milk, it would be a taxi. That way, I had two income streams.”

In the beginning, Margaret’s new business did well. Two income streams guaranteed a stable income. Sadly, after couple months, she realised that her employees were embezzling money from her. She needed to close the business. “I almost got disoriented when I lost my second business. But I collected myself again and set up once more.”

This time, she decided to establish a business on her own. She opened a grocery store which provided just enough income to keep her going. One day, she overheard her neighbour talking about a new source of energy called briquetting. This sparked her interest. She participated in a conference, organised by Practical Action Eastern Africa and SCODE (Sustainable Community Development Services), where she saw a demo of the production process. After the conference, her neighbour suggested a visit to the briquetting production site in the neighbourhood.

Although reluctant at first, she accompanied her neighbour to the site – pretending to be an entrepreneur. At the site, she quickly learned, that she could earn better income as a briquettinbriquettesg entrepreneur than owner of a grocery store. Meanwhile, the costs and availability of the raw materials made it easy to enter the market. She went back home feeling energised and thoughtful.

“My hope was that even if my grocery store was not performing well, I had briquettes. I knew that if I’d start producing them, I would be able to make a better income. So I started to produce them manually. I thought to myself, this is really hard! However, Practical Action and SCODE helped me. They rented me a machine to aide production. I had found my salvation.”

Margaret launched her briquettes business in 2015 and has increased her sales ever since. She has also participated in Practical Action’s training programmes, aimed to enhance women’s energy enterprise opportunities in Kenya. In 2017, she won the Energia Women Entrepreneurship Award – A prize that recognizes individuals that have done outstanding work in the sector.

In the future, Margaret wants to further expand her business and create jobs in the community. “Many young people are jobless, and many women are frustrated because they have no way of getting income. So I can use the prize money to give them a chance, to teach them, and to give them skills so that they can benefit the way I have.”

Did you enjoy this story? If yes, go to our Mother’s Day site  and meet other inspiring women just like Margaret!

Want to help women like Margaret this Mother’s Day? Our Practical Presents Charity Gift shop offers some amazing Mother’s Day gifts that are designed to transform lives. More information here.

6 responses to “Margaret Kariuku — A self-established businesswoman”

  1. James mungai Says:

    Hello, that is wonderful job well done.Practical action have really touched life’s. Kindly advice me on how I can get the briquette training, currently am in ELDORET and with the little survey I have done that idea has not yet reached here despite having people who really need this to improve there life’s both financially and environmentally, alot of biomass is readily available from big farms which go unutilized while our forest are being depleted for firewood, unemployment leading to crimes, but with these project I believe many will benefit.Kindly advice.

  2. Sarita Heikkinen Says:

    Hi James,

    Many thanks for your kind words and interest in our work. We’ll send you an email regarding this. Best wishes, Sarita

  3. Meet the winners of ENERGIA Women Entrepreneurship Award - ENERGIA Says:

    […] can learn more about Margaret in a recent blog post by Practical […]

  4. Rosemary Wamuyu Says:

    Practical action is doing good work and i too wish to learn on how to make Charcoal briquettes. Rosemary Wamuyu from Chuka, Tharaka Nithi County

  5. leah wangari ndung'u Says:

    this is really inspiring.i am a housewife and i want to be financially indipendent please give me more information of how i can get the training. thanx in advance.

  6. i am inspired by this. how can i get trained on this project iam interested. Says:

    i commend practical action for this norble project. how can i join in training in the same?

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