The power of teamwork for a successful Fresh Life business
Carol Jackson, Annastacia Ndanu, and Jennifer Nthagu are three sisters raised in Machakos County. As soon as each of them completed high school, they moved to Nairobi to pursue their college education. Carol, the eldest, is 29 years old and was the first to move. She settled in Nairobi’s Makadara area where she was hired as a customer attendant at an Mpesa shop. Her goal was to begin saving for her education.
When Annastacia and Jennifer completed their secondary education, they moved in with their sister, also hoping to find employment to finance their educations. “It was very difficult to provide for my sisters when they did not have jobs,” Carol recalls.
To make ends meet, Carol, who is passionate about business, began a small stationary shop in Makadara. “With my parents’ support, I had managed to start college and was taking a course in business finance. I wanted to put into practice the skills I was learning by starting my own small business,” she says. She recruited her sisters to help market the products to schools and retail shops, and that was the beginning of their business partnership.
“Our small business offered my sisters and me some income and even helped pay for college. Annastacia went on to study community development, while Jennifer went to study clinical medicine,” says Carol.
One Sunday afternoon during a stroll in Muthurwa market, the three sisters came across Fresh Life Toilets and were quick to notice how clean and odorless the facilities were. “We used to frequent Bama Market in Kamukunji, and the environment was not pleasant. Besides being littered with food remains and plastic waste, the lack of toilets in the area forced people to resort to open defecation,” Carol says. After learning about Fresh Life, they were inspired to improve the sanitation options in Bama market.
In March 2014, the trio decided to join the Fresh Life network. “Access to land was a big challenge for us,” recalls Carol. The Fresh Life team provided them the information and support they needed to receive permission to build on a piece of land. In the two years since they launched their toilets, each of the three sisters has played a vital role in transforming the sanitation situation in Bama Market.
Jennifer, frequently called “daktari” (“doctor”) by her customers, is always available to offer solutions to hygiene-related queries. She constantly reminds customers to wash their hands and provides her customers with antibacterial soap to encourage hand washing.
Annastacia, who is soft spoken, is a people person. She helps maintain good customer relations by seeking feedback from Fresh Life users. She constantly reminds Daniel, their toilet attendant, to provide friendly and professionally service to their customers.
Carol keeps track of the business’s finances through consistent and timely bookkeeping. “I have trained Daniel to break down his expenses at the end of every day. He sends this information via SMS, and I update our records,” she says.
Because of this division of duties, the sisters’ three Fresh Life Toilets are doing very well. Their toilets are open between 6am and 9pm every day, and they are able to earn up to 450 USD in profit per month!
In the long run, these three savvy sisters hope to expand their businesses by installing water-vending stations in Makadara and Bama Market.