Rosemary Murugi never could have pictured the lucrative and successful business that she would be the CEO and founder of today.
Born and raised in Kenya, not much opportunity was available to her at the time; there were few prospects, let alone the chance to make an entrepreneurial dream come true. But with her sheer grit and determination, she set out to do the impossible–and it paid off.
At university, she stumbled into her first opportunity in the paint manufacturing business and knew that it was what she was born to do. With activity in Kenya’s construction industry skyrocketing, Rosemary realised that she had a niche from which she could build her business. She harnessed her knowledge of the market and started Rockmix Paints, a paint manufacturing and trading company.
It was no smooth sailing for Rosemary. Along with grappling with financing and logistics issues, she faced stigmatisation and discrimination in a field dominated by men. But she never gave up and tightly held on to her entrepreneurial spirit. And after bouncing back and forth, her company is now a success story and one of the leading paint companies in Kenya.
Rosemary Murugi: Refreshing the Murky World of Entrepreneurship
In 2013, Rosemary Murugi became yet another intrepid entrepreneur to take the plunge into a rather murky world, having left the safety and security of employment for the unknown. That the 41-year-old mother of three had no entangling personal commitments was an advantage, foregoing the immobilising fears that would otherwise have encumbered her journey.
“Of course, I was afraid, but I’d also built up enough hope that I could make it. It was reassuring too, to know others had done it and documented their stories, so I read a lot of books and talked to friends before taking the dive,” remembers Murugi.
Now, 10 years since she embarked on that heart-racing journey, we find her company well-rooted, with significant accomplishments to boot. Rosemary’s success can be attributed to her strategic decisions and a cautious approach to business. She took the time to understand the market and develop her products, and in so doing was able to create a niche for herself in the competitive market.
What’s more, Ms Murugi has done it almost entirely without taking loans from the bank. Doing so helped her avoid relying heavily on debt to sustain the business during the early, more perilous years. She also devoted considerable attention to customer targeting, becoming one of the first to focus on identifying the ideal customer for her products and services.
Starting a business requires more than just entrepreneurs’ dreams and enthusiasm; it requires capital. Raising funds to start a business can be a daunting task, and navigating the challenges that come with fundraising is not easy. In Rosemary’s experience, she was able to succeed because of prudent financial management, discipline, and a willingness to start small.
Raising capital is often the primary point of concern when a business is being launched. This is because without the right amount of capital a business cannot embark on its project. The challenge lies in finding investors or lenders who can provide the capital at an affordable cost.
In Rosemary’s case, her initial funding was from her savings and her partner’s contributions. In order to sustain the growth of the business, Rosemary had to be mindful of the cash flow. This meant that she had to be strategic about how she spent the capital in order to generate more income. Bank loans are not the only option for raising capital, as Rosemary forewent loans for her venture in favour of seeking investments.
Starting small proved to be the best move for Rosemary. As her business was just starting out, it was unable to undertake larger projects because of limited resources. This could have been a major setback, but Rosemary persevered and focused on small projects such as assisting people to build their homes and servicing small businesses. By taking small projects, Rosemary was able to ensure cash flow and build up the capacity of her business.
Success amidst Covid-19 disruptions
Amidst the economic disruption caused by the pandemic, success stories continue to inspire. Kenyan paint company Rockmix Paints is one such success: when the pandemic-induced supply disruptions caused raw material costs to soar, the firm was able to maintain profitability despite the hits to cash flows.
Rockmix Paints imports the majority of its raw materials from Germany, Turkey, China and Egypt, thus any supply disruptions from these countries had a direct impact on the firm’s financial health. But Rockmix Paints had an ace up its sleeve – its unique business model which distinguishes it from its competitors. Focusing on quality, the firm offers its customers a comprehensive package that includes delivery, application and scaffolding.
Rosemary Muchai, Rockmix Paints’ founder, has even higher ambitions for the company. With technological advancement and new products in the development pipeline, Rosemary hopes to extend the company’s reach beyond Kenya to leverage the newly opened East Africa markets. To do so, however, Rockmix Paints’ needs access to sources of finance that facilitate growth and expansion.
The success of Rockmix Paints is proof that during the pandemic, businesses with the right strategies and resources can adapt and succeed. At the same time, it is a reminder of just how important a well-developed capital market is in funding new businesses and startups that are key to a sustainable economic recovery. Rosemary’s ambitions provide hope of not just success, but transformation and innovation in the paint industry.
Business Philosophy and Lessons
The success of any business depends heavily on the entrepreneur’s philosophy — the underlying principles and lessons drawn from personal experiences that guide their decision-making. Rosemary, an experienced entrepreneur, considers the value of hard work, understanding the power of money, and building relationships as essential elements of her success.
According to Rosemary, the surest path to success for the entrepreneur is hard work. “You cannot negate hard work. Entrepreneurship is a lot harder than employment. Be consistent, tenacious and most importantly, you have to understand money, whether in business or employment because money is an amazing slave but a terrible master,” she asserts. Rosemary’s words of wisdom resonate with the fundamental truth that hard work has been and will continue to be a cornerstone of success whether in employment or entrepreneurship.
The success of one’s enterprise inevitably hinges on their relationships and connections with business partners and resources, something Rosemary is acutely aware of. “When starting a company, think about your exit. As you bring in a partner, have an exit plan in mind and how that will work out even though it is hard to fathom at the beginning when prospects and financials are rosy,” she advises. It is essential to understand the importance of collaboration and to seek out the assistance of trusted business partners so as to better manage risks and take advantage of growth opportunities.
Furthermore, an entrepreneur must be mindful of the power of money when engaging in business. Rosemary emphasises this by noting, “Money is an amazing slave but a terrible master.” To make the best use of money, it must be managed carefully and entrepreneurs must learn how to sustainably fund their business to maximise their profits and minimise their risks, a task which is easier said than done.
In summary, Rosemary’s business philosophy and the lessons she has learnt from her journey as an entrepreneur, hinges upon the necessity of hard work and understanding the power of money, along with the need to build relationships. “If you have to bring in a partner, you need to have an aligned vision and a clear-cut direction,” she concludes.