A story of resilience and diligence in building a thriving business empire
In the heart of Kisii Village in Mukuru Kayaba, lies Dallas Pub, a joint where residents like to unwind after a hard day’s work. At the entrance beautiful black and white tiles attract passersby to the Fresh Life Toilet just inside.
This is where Fresh Life Operator and owner of Dallas Pub, Joseph Kamau, spends his days. In addition to offering entertainment and a clean toilet to residents in his neighborhood, he also sells liquid soap and water.
Joseph’s businesses are doing well. “I serve about two hundred customers every day at my pub and Fresh Life Toilet,” he says. Joseph is proud of his success because his journey has required resilience and determination.
A victim of the 2007-2008 post-election violence, Joseph was among those displaced during the tribal clashes in the Rift Valley. “My family lost everything during those clashes; our house and businesses were all burnt to ashes,” he recalls. Joseph now had the responsibility to rebuild his life and help his parents reconstruct theirs, too. He moved to Nairobi in search of the funds to make that possible.
“I worked in several companies as a casual laborer; however, I was determined to set up my own business,” he says. “For me to establish my businesses, I needed to acquire land. So I began building relationships with Kayaba’s village elders while on the lookout for a suitable place to purchase my land,” he recalls.
Joseph was able to acquire a piece of land where he has established rental units, a pub, and one Fresh Life Toilet. “When I came to Kayaba, there were hardly any toilets. Residents used flying toilets, with children often going to the riverbanks to relieve themselves,” he says, adding that inadequate sewerage systems made it difficult to put up toilets in Kayaba.
Before installing a Fresh Life Toilet, Joseph says, “It was difficult to retain customers at the pub; they frequently left when nature called.” One day, Benedict Muli, a Fresh Life sales associate, reached out to him, suggesting he join the Fresh Life network.
“I did not believe Benedict, since in this area we have been conned in the past by unscrupulous organizations. Fresh Life was different: they walked with me all the way,” he says.
Joseph’s Fresh Life Toilet has been operational for over a year now, and Joseph is delighted that this facility has both increased the number of customers at his pub and helped clean up Kisii Village. “I love cleanliness! And seeing that there are no more flying toilets in our neighborhood makes me happy,” Joseph beams.
Joseph now has an additional daily income from running the Fresh Life Toilet. “From this business, my family is well provided for. I can easily access funds to address unforeseen circumstances, too,” he says.
Joseph’s secret to his thriving businesses? Establishing a good rapport with customers, he says. “I have learnt to have a personal understanding and respect for my customers’ needs. It is important that I have established a lasting relationship with them.”
Because of his past experience, Joseph is also a passionate advocate for peace, mentoring young people on the importance of developing relationships across tribal and ethnic divides. His pub helps to unite people from all over Kenya.
This year, Joseph hopes to set up an additional Fresh Life Toilet close by. “This business is lucrative, and more importantly there is a positive sanitation impact in our community,” he beams.