Profile: Making Beautiful Furniture
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Posted October 2008

Name: Francis Odhiambo Otieno
Age: 36

Business Name: Maridadi Furnishers
Business Type: Maker and seller of furniture
Location: Ajigo market, Bondo District, Nyanza Province, Kenya

J9 Training: 2007
Initial Loan: 122,000 Kenya Shillings (about $1,745)
Loan Repayment: Good
Compassionate Service: Supporting orphans to go to school

Employees: 1
Income: His personal income has increased from 1,500 shillings per month (about $21) to 4,500 (about $63)
Next capital need: 80,000 shillings (about $1,145) for electronic carpentry tools

Quote: "Now I can depend on myself."

Francis’ story:

Married with five children, Francis runs an expanding carpentry workshop and retain store in a two modest stalls in the Ajigo marketplace. He named the shop "Maridadi Furnishes." Maridadi is a Swahili word which means "Beautiful."

Francis grew up in poverty and had to sell second-hand clothes to pay his school fees. He says he was brought up in a strict Christian background and it has made him an honest person with a positive and forward looking view of life. His father Amos Terrah is a small scale farmer while his mother Francisca Atieno is a vegetable vendor and small scale farmer. Asked about his source of inspiration, he cites the love he has for carpentry job and the desire to see a just society for all devoid of extreme poverty.

Francis trained in carpentry on the job at a carpentry workshop in Nairobi. The J9 training and loan allowed him to move out on his own. He is selling furniture to professionals from as far away as the nearby city of Kisumu, Kenya’s third largest city. Among his marketing efforts, he now advertises on a local radio station. He and his one employee make all of the furniture with hand tools. Francis hopes to be able to buy the kind of power tools that will speed production.

The executive summary of Francis' business plan says:

The enterprise is mainly involved in making different kinds of furniture, made out of wood and timber.

The main products are coffins, beds, tables, cupboards, sofa-sets, coffee tables, sideboards, school lockers, office desks, and some in-door fittings. The enterprise also does some repairs.

Once the enterprise acquires carpentry machines, it will offer services to other carpenters outside like splitting, rolling, cuttings, and planning of the wood. These machines are a source of income to the workshop.

The enterprise will also offer carpentry training to school leavers and this will also form another source of income to the enterprise. The location of the business is suitable because it is in the market center where people normally visit frequently. The workshop premise is also along the main road of the market center. Research indicates that the current carpenters do not give the customers the right goods they ordered.

Raw materials are also locally available at a reasonable price (raw materials are locally available). Once the machines have been acquired timber off-cuts will be ready for sale. (One sack of off-cuts sold at Ksh. 100).

Rent is also affordable and labor force is also cheaply available. There is a feeder road which connects the market to the main road.

In the spirit of The J9 Foundation's vision of "compassionate entrepreneurship," Francis developed a compassionate service plan that led him to support two orphans by providing school uniforms and books, which allows them to go to school. The orphans are members of the community Francis learned about through his church.

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