He had started an events business called Watoto Ni Sisi. It was aimed at bringing fun events to adults. The first event went so well that he made a profit of Sh70,000. He was inspired to do another, this time bigger and better. So he borrowed Sh200,000 to finance it. It flopped. He was left with a debt of Sh100,000. He sold his phone for Sh30,000 but still needed to find Sh70,000.
“As a kid, I watched as our lifestyle transformed for the better when my dad resigned from his job and went into business. It was at this point that I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur,” says Ian Mati, founder of Vintara Collections.
At 25, Ian runs an accessory brand which merges Ankara material with modern material to make unique cultural bags for all occasions. He started selling these products when he found himself in debt after a failed business venture. He was trying to recoup the cash to repay his investor.

“I didn’t start off with bags. I started off with shoes. I’d bought a pair of shoes made from Ankara material and people kept asking me where I’d gotten them. I went back to the shoe supplier and told him the shoes were in demand and if he gave me a commission I’d help him sell them. He offered me Sh500 for each pair sold. In a week I’d sell at least 10 pairs, which gave me Sh5,000. I was ecstatic because I was well on my way to repaying my loan. At what point did you realise this was a viable business? I figured if I could sell shoes, I could sell bags as well. Only this time I wanted to make my own designs, so I hired a tailor. In about three months, we had sold enough products to repay my loan. My intention was to go back to events once I’d made more capital but then I got invited to a fashion event to showcase my bags. I couldn’t say no even though I felt unqualified to be part of a fashion show,” he shares.
When he started in early 2014, he was still trying to repay the loan he’d taken out for the events business, so he had no access to capital. To work around this, he made bags on order and customers would pay a deposit, which he used to pay the supplier. By October when he saw the business was viable, he put in Sh50,000. Sh25,000 was a loan from a friend and Sh25,000 from his savings. He officially registered the company and used the capital to pay rent at a production stall in Jericho Market which cost him Sh4,000 a month and to buy a stitching machine, which cost Sh25,000. He spent roughly Sh10,000 on marketing, including a photo shoot for the bags.
A couple of months, there was a breakthrough according to Ian. By end of February, he had put his books together and pitched for an investment, which he felt he badly needed in order to scale up and avoid the issues they had faced earlier. He managed to get an investment of Sh1 million for a 10 per cent stake in his company. With that capital, he bought more machines, invested in more staff and moved to bigger premises in Umoja. While he hit the next big order from National Bank for 1,500 bags worth Sh2 million.

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