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Josephine’s journey in starting “Mwangaza wa Mathare” started 2 years ago when a friend taught her the process of candle making. Prior to this, she went from one house to another selling T-shirts struggling to earn enough money for her daily living with her two sons. She feels it was an easy step for her to take, giving up her old job, and up to now she is very happy with her decision since “it is definitely a more profitable business”.

Josephine uses recycled materials such as yogurt containers and wine bottle tops to shape the candles. She produces about ten candles a day together with two  other single mothers from the community that she has employed. At the moment, the candles are mainly sold to churches, massage palaces and individuals. Also her community has started  to acknowledge her candles. In Mathare, most houses are without electricity and so Josephine’s candles provide them with a crucial light source for a couple of days at an affordable price.

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Josephine was part of Somo’s cohort 4 from May- August 2017 and is right now in the progress of registering her business. With the received grant, she wants to buy a machine which allows her to produce a variety of candles.This will allow her to cater for different needs and demands and in the future increase her customer base. Her aim is to incorporate more women in the long term, help them to be financially independent and have a long-lasting impact on her employees, their families and her community. On a personal level, she hopes this business will allow her  to have a good life with her two boys without worrying about their education.

A challenge arises with the purchase of a new machine to increase production. Right now Josephine is producing the candles on the rooftop of her apartment building. But once she has the machine, she requires a bigger and more secured place.

Josephine learnt a lot about starting businesses through Somo’s Entrepreneurship Bootcamp. In particular, she learned a lot about cash management. The most important takeaway for her is the importance and power of Social Media when running a business in an informal settlement. She now wants to promote Mwangaza wa Mathare using Facebook for special occasions such as Valentine’s Day in order to gain new customers and increase her sales. Once helped by another woman, Josephine is inspired to share her knowledge of candle making with other women of her community, who are eager to learn and start their own business. Josephine’s advice for other people in her community is to “wake up, be committed and work hard”!

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