Insecurity yields bullet-proof idea for varsity student [Business Daily (Kenya)]
(Business Daily (Kenya) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) It is rare for an ordinary person to get a chance to speak to the President.
However, a 20-year-old Technical University of Kenya student and entrepreneur had this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity a fortnight ago.
Even though it seemed more than he had bargained for, he took it in his stride.
In John Ndolo's view, it was the best possible platform to sell his business idea given his knowledge in brand marketing.
"In business, every opportunity counts," he notes.
The entrepreneur sought to market his car import trade at the launch of the recent women and youth procurement expo by President Uhuru Kenyatta. And the news about Sh200 billion worth of State tenders and contracts reserved for women and youth seemingly provoked his go-getter spirit as he took to the podium.
"I am eyeing key government tenders and will go all the way to secure some," he affirms in an interview.
At his tender age, it was not difficult to understand why those in the gathering dropped their faces in awe given car trade has often been seen a preserve of mature big-wigs with financial clout.
That is not all. The car imports are not your typical model, but armoured ones costing an arm and a leg.
Little wonder when he read out his phone contacts to potential clients in the crowd, everyone had to find ways to capture the details.
Mr Ndolo, a second year urban design and development student is the owner of Magio Holdings Co Ltd, a business that specialises in armoured vehicles import.
Magio Ltd has barely been seven months in existence and the entrepreneur is yet to close a sale. He does not have an office space and is still setting up a website.
But he is quick to point out that the venture will not be another castle tossing in air.
"Watch this space," he says.
Mr Ndolo is no green horn in business.
His first business, agribusiness in Sultan Hamud on Mombasa Road, was covered in this paper earlier and was making a kill from sale of tomato and flowers.
Mr Ndolo says his foray into car business arose on realisation of a market gap in the auto industry as national and personal safety increasingly takes centre stage.
"Safety is paramount and people will do everything to have a sense of security. That is where I come in," he told the Business Daily.
Besides the State and county security agencies, the entrepreneur targets the upper and middle class who often have no qualms paying through the nose to be secure.
He is rubbing his hands in glee in anticipation of roaring business as Kenya's corporate sector expands.
His sights are also trained on supply of cash-in transit vans to security firms.
The company was not an overnight idea and Mr Ndolo says he toyed with the thought since 2011 until last year when he decided to venture into the business.
"I registered Magio in March and received a letter of representation from Stark Armouring in June," he says.
But it was not until he made a well packaged presentation to the Canada-based firm that he received a nod from the company.
"I had to consult extensively from experts in different sectors to get it right," he says.
A deal between the Canadian company and Magio pave the way for setting up of a first representative office in East Africa for Stark Armouring.
The only child in his family, Mr Ndolo has used every little opportunity to get his business line known in the market including attending motor shows and exhibitions. "Last month I made a lot of contacts during the East Africa Motor Show at KICC," he says. "I believe in the power of networking."
To make an order, a client gives specifications of car of one's choice after which one is issued with a price quotation from Stark Armouring.
"Magio plays an interface role linking Stark with clients," Mr Ndolo explains. "Clients will pay 60 per cent up front and the rest upon receiving the car."
Payments are made to Stark's account number. He says the process could take about two months and cost up to Sh16.9 million to have a brand new armoured car procured depending on the make.
Those with vehicles and want them armoured have to ship them to Canada, which is cheaper.
For instance, Mr Ndolo says, it costs about Sh3.8 million to have a Range Rover armoured inclusive of shipment costs.
However, car models such as Probox and Sedans may have their engines altered to sustain the weight of the reinforced steel used in armour.
The entrepreneur plans to supply the Kenyan market with B6 category of armoured vehicles whose body can withstand bullets fired from AK-47 rifles.
These vehicles come with run flat tyres, which can go for extra 80km after getting a puncture alongside bullet proof ballistic glass.
B7 is the highest category manufactured by Stark and is classified as military grade.
Mr Ndolo said he has approached the Youth Enterprise Development Fund for financial boost for his business. "I am confident car owners will buy my idea. Hopefully, I could even land a deal with the State in procurement of armoured trucks for security agencies."
He has also registered with the Treasury for prequalification for State tenders.
However, Samwel Odhiambo, head of supply chain management services at the Treasury, said procurement of armoured vehicles for the State looked a bit overly ambitious but lauded Mr Ndolo for his edgy entrepreneurial spirit.
Mr Ndolo expressed optimism he would set up a local car assembly plant in future.
"We are our own limit. If you do not know where you want to go, what to become and how to live, you will be just there," he advises the youths.
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