Kinoti Kajume is a serial entrepreneur owning stakes in both the interior design and construction industry and recently just got into the wines & spirits sphere through his umbrella company:-Felixworks ventures. Amongst his current projects is the budding populous Sherehe chain of liquor stores. He currently runs a branch in both Lang’ata and Kilimani area in Nairobi but plans to expand to other locations in Nairobi  and ultimately throughout the country.

What was your first job?

Well I did a lot of contract roles when starting out, but my first permanent job was at DSTV as the National sales team leader. However I never saw myself as the typical office employee so I didn’t stay there for long. In addition, I was always looking for new opportunities to challenge myself thus would never stay at a firm past five years.With time,I ended up getting into entrepreneurship fully as it was more fulfilling.

Fully? Does that mean you started entrepreneurship before then?

Absolutely!I started off selling second hand clothes while in campus and delivering them in my father’s car.I also had a stunt in outside catering because believe it or not I love cooking.I even had a tiny hotel set up in Kayole.

There is so much competition in the liquor store scene. What makes Sherehe unique?

True there are definitely a lot of players in this scene but our policy is simple! We value our customers and aim to sell an experience and not just bottles of alcohol. Not only do we invest in quality products but also in our staff to reflect the status of our brand. In addition, my partners and I have a vast background in the corporate scene. That has definitely given us an edge in running full fledged businesses and managing people.

Would you encourage young people to start off employed and then start their businesses or should they just jump in regardless?

Well both paths can work but it is without a doubt that being employed first and developing skills in the workplace gives you an edge.It helps you learn how a business works and also how to blend in a multi-cultural environment.The alternative is usually much harder. Starting a business with no foundation whatsoever is more of baptisms by fire, as I would call it!

What's your take on mentors? Do you have one?

I have a few. Mentors are a must have! It is important to have experienced people who can hold your hand, guide and remind you that you’re not alone on your entrepreneurship journey.

What are some of the challenges you have come across while running Sherehe?

They are quite a number. Running the business during the Covid 19 pandemic was by far the most challenging experience. The purchasing power of my clients took a serious dip and that obviously affected our sales. Getting good staff  with the right attitude was also another challenge for us. Lastly we had an issue in managing our inventory levels in respect to what our customers wanted. Being able to track that was a bit challenging given the ever changing tastes and preferences of the customers.

If you were to speak to someone from history, who would it be?

I don’t know about History but I would definitely want to have a hearty conversation with my grand dad, Felix. And yes I did name my company Felixworks ventures after him. He inspired great ideals in me including the importance of family and generational prosperity. As young people ,we should be forward thinkers and consider how our children and grand children will be affected by our life’s decisions.

How do your parents feel about you leaving your corporate job and starting a business?

Very supportive! My Mum always calls and tell me how she’s praying for my businesses to grow so that I can employ more people.My dad was a bit skeptical at first but he gained confidence over time as I would talk to him often and update him on how the business was going. He is officially one of my biggest fans now!

What advice would you give on managing people?

I like looking at people management as an opportunity to enable them be better and do better; for the business itself and for themselves too.It is important to avail them with the necessary tools of trade and most importantly direction. Communicate your goals and expectations as clearly as possible and let it not be a guessing game as to what they should be working towards. Empathy is also another factor that is really important in people management. At the end of the day, we’re all just human beings trying to get by.

What's your greatest entrepreneurial achievement so far?

Starting the Sherehe chain of stores!I have since achieved all of my weekly and monthly goals without fail and for sure better things are coming.

What are some of the skills or qualities you believe are necessary for any entrepreneur to survive this hustle?

Being street smart, utmost confidence in your product and the willingness to learn.

What mistakes do you think a lot of young people make when they start out in their businesses?

 One common mistake that most young entrepreneurs tend to make is that they believe that they are always right and they know what they are doing- A know it all kind of attitude! That’s normally their down fall even before they begin.

What's the most amount of money you've ever lost in a deal gone wrong. Share what you learnt !

I would say give or take about sh 50 million. It was a vey surreal moment for me and I learned a great deal from it. One is that you should obviously be cautious and watch out for cons and dishonest business partners. Another is that you should never ever put your eggs in one basket. Aim at investing in multiple businesses that you’re well informed in

Any last remarks for our readers?

For any entrepreneur that is just starting out, I would highly recommend for them to have a  written down business plan – even if it’s a one pager. It really helps in keeping you focused as well as enabling  the continuity of your business.

Last but not least, I would be more than happy to invite each one of the readers here to visit our stores and enjoy our services.Sherehe Liquor is located in Kilimani at Kilimani Souk, wood Avenue and Langata at Southlands complex. We do deliveries within Nairobi, right at your doorstep.For deliveries please call 0768637009 and for any complaints / feedback call 0719243146.We also have a loyalty programme where you can earn points as you buy and redeemable at any of our Sherehe outlets.

Come and experience a touch of class and exceptional service!