Chuka town is not only the commercial hub of the Tharaka Nithi County but also a fast growing municipality.
The town has become synonymous with Chuka University though the latter is about three kilometres from the town’s central business district.
The higher institution of learning has attracted many students and business people alike and to cope with this population explosion the service industry is catching up on a tremendous scale.
Salons, barber shops, cosmetics, jewelry outreaches, cyber cafes, hotels plus drinking joints and even more recently cobblers and photographers have set base in Chuka town and it’s Ndagani outskirts.
Coronavirus came with its fair share of challenges to the growing service industry, but to the entrepreneurial minds life has to go on, even in the very difficult times.
For instance, Steven Nyaga, a barber in Chuka town is still in business despite the odds. Each morning he leaves for work, Nyaga smiles and assures his family that he will be back in the evening with household requirements even though he does not know what the day has in store for him.
As he waits for a Matatu to his barber shop, he shuts his ears to all the disruptions and jeers from the passersby. Hope plays a greater part in his consciousness that it is another day to keep grinding.
The entrepreneur told KNA that he started working as a barber in 2019. “I started my business way back then after engaging in farming as well as operating as a retail businessman,” he said.
“I however felt that the retail business was not much profitable, and it was quite demanding as well,’’ he adds.
On the other hand, Nyaga says that being a barber has taught him a lot about how to handle customers’ expectations, “one thing about being a barber is that you must understand what your customers want. If a customer says he wants a high fade haircut it’s my job to ensure that I meet his expectations,’’ he says.
The barber says that in most cases his customers prefer the side swept haircut.
“I may not really know why most men prefer the side swept haircut, but I believe everyone has his own reasons,’’ he says, adding that everyone wants to be outstanding and smart and the side swept haircut suits many men.
Nyaga says that he believes that his good services are the reason why his many clients keep coming back.
“The place may not be so spacious, but my customers are happy. I hope to expand my services to a level where my customers are contented every time they visit my barber shop,” he says.
He however laments that despite his achievements there are challenges associated with the work, especially some difficult customers who are unsatisfied with everything and are ever complaining.
“You just have to be unpretentious and listen to their demands but at times, it becomes too much to put up with them. But the need to meet the demands of my family makes me wake up daily and report to work,” said Nyaga, adding that ” the smile on my kids every morning is my inspiration, even on dry periods when the number of customers is minimal.
Nyaga reveals that when schools are being reopened school many children show up at his shop.
Godfrey Nyamu, one of the customers says that he has been his client here for five months now because of the good services that meets his expectations.
“I also prefer the side swept haircut because it suits me even at my place of work ,’’ Nyamu adds with a satisfied smile.
Elsewhere, KNA met with Nick and Ernest who narrated the background to their Sir G Photography business located at the Ndagani outskirts, which is a joint partnership of four, together with their other two colleagues, Samson and Yabes.
“Sir G Photography started in 2017. Sam had a camera that he used for fun during his leisure time after classes. By then, we were all students at Chuka University and we were roommates at Tunda hostels,” Nick opens the conversation.
” I jokingly came up with an idea of photography business which seemed funny to Sam but later that evening when I borrowed the camera and went to Ndagani market, I managed to find my first ever customers who happened to be comrades at the university too,” he continues further disclosing that, on that memorable evening, he made Sh200, a good sign of what was ahead for them.
He said this brought some sense in photography to Sam contrary to his previous reaction,” said Nick.
He further revealed that after his first attempt he decided to put is brainchild to reality and with the help of Sam they agreed to convert their bedsitter into a studio.
“We put our best foot forward to ensure that we gained trust of our customers. We did both indoor and outdoor photography depending on the demands of our customers. Meanwhile, I learnt new skills from YouTube tutorials,” he further reveals.
The rest is history. With the growing number of customers and lots of demands they had to change their way of operation. Privacy was necessary. Ernest who had joined Nick and Sam came up with the idea to move the business to a strategic place where it could be accessed by more customers.
“That’s how we found ourselves in Ndagani. Since then, our business has been growing and today we are the leading photography specialists around. Our services are the best around and this can be justified by our loyal clients and new ones.
Ernest chips in adding that they do the work not only for money but because they love it.
Yet another new entrant in Chuka is Satris Beauty College, located at Messaco building just next to the Chuka High Court in the Central Business District.
The school offers several courses such us hairdressing, beauty therapy, advanced beauty, advanced massage, nail technology, personnel management and barbering, thus providing adequate skills to the student as per the current market demand.