When Covid-19 hit the country back in March and the government of Kenya in coordination with the Ministry of Health ordered the closure of borders and introduced curfew hours, Rebecca Aseyo thought her dreams would come to end. Two months before the pandemic outbreak, she had been employed as regional sales representative by Star Times, an electronics and media company dealing with solar home systems, digital televisions, decoders and projector televisions. She thought she wouldn’t make it through the probation period, which required certain sales targets to be achieved in six months. Alongside this new job, she was also still employed at Sunking, a solar company that experienced some issues with stocking products during the lockdown. Fortunately, Rebecca had a few more portable solar systems to last her two months.
Rebecca’s new role at Star Times came as a result of her hard work and determination to grow bigger. Skills on record keeping, business management and empowerment, as trained by Practical Action’s Women in Energy Enterprises in Kenya (WEEK 2) project also played a key role in enabling her to emerge the best among her peers who had applied for the same position.
When Covid-19 hit and the government introduced the dusk to dawn curfew hours, I knew I would really be messed up. I had targets to meet to pass the probation period and the working hours were not sufficient
As a result of the pandemic, things didn’t seem to favor Rebecca in the month of March. She met a lot of losses that left her frustrated. Tables turned in April when she started receiving an increasing number of orders that would have forced her to work beyond curfew hours and get her in trouble with the police officers.
“The months of April, May and June were the best I ever had in my solar business. I used to get up to 5 orders per day, with 3 being installation works. This contributed to the growth of my business as I earned Ksh. 15,000 (USD 138) weekly unlike previous months, where my highest weekly sales used to be Ksh. 6,000 (USD 55).”
One of Rebecca’s dreams has always been financing her children’s education till university level. With schools closed as a result of the pandemic, Rebecca has taken up an initiative of depositing her children’s next year’s fees to their respective school accounts. Through her group’s savings and loaning initiative, she has increased her shares from Ksh.500 (USD 4.60) to Ksh.1000 (USD 9.20) which have in turn increased her loaning request.
Moreover, Rebecca’s new position has enabled her to create job opportunities for other 32 youths who act as her solar agents. Despite her massive success, Rebecca still attends Practical Action’s trainings to advance her marketing skills. She currently uses digital platforms such as Whatsapp status and Facebook to market her products. Both StarTimes and Sun King have provided her with flyers and branded T-shirts which she says have played a major role in promoting and expanding her business.
“In Kakamega, most individuals associate Sun King to solar and Star Times to television. Whenever my team and I are in the market and wearing our branded attires, we get a lot of referrals and through that process we also get to distribute our flyers which have our contact details on them.”
Even though Rebecca is determined to achieve her dreams, she still faces a few challenges such as lack of a reliable means of transport to carry her products to the market. The rainy season is usually the most demanding period, as heavy rain limits her movement and the bad state of roads in Kakamega’s county contributes to make her business trips in the area more complex.
“I am just a step away from my dream. I have learnt to master my customer’s needs. I therefore intend to save up a little more so that I can open my own shop of portable solar systems”, she concludes.