Peter Mwangi 45, cuts neatly through the leather as he starts to make a pair of shoes.
Like the curves on the leather, his life has been uneven. He dropped out of school for lack of school fees and decided to pursue several casual jobs to earn a living.
When he completed his primary school education in 1990, he went to work with a local cobbler in Nyahururu town as an apprentice and learned to repair torn shoes. While at it, he learnt the art of shoe-making with interest, while aiming at starting his own business one day.
And that happened.
Today, he owns and runs a small shoe-making factory in Laikipia county, about a kilometre from the Nyahururu Central Business District. The business is fully acknowledged by the county government of Laikipia and Kenya Bureau of Statistics (Kebs).
“I did not go beyond Class 8 because of many challenges, but I refused to let myself languish in poverty. I decided to join the cobbler in Nyahururu and that is how I learnt to make shoes,” Mr Mwangi says.
Initially, the father of two started his own shoe repair shop in Nyahururu town before setting up a shoe shop in the town which he still runs today. In 2015, the innovator started making police and security guards’ boots.
“I decided to concentrate mostly on boots after realising that there was an available market due to the increasing number of security firms. Most boda boda riders also prefer wearing boots as they carry on with their day to day activities,” he says.
Mr Mwangi also notes that apart from making boots, he also makes shoes targeting ordinary citizens and school-going children.
“However, I prefer making boots more than school shoes because the market, especially school shoes, is seasonal, compared to boots which I make on an order basis,” added the entrepreneur.
He says a pair of boots that he has branded “Laikipia Nyati” goes for Sh2,500 and he can get as many as 10 orders in a span of one month.
“In a low season, I can make a monthly profit of about Sh15,000.This can, however, double during the high seasons,” he said, adding that recently, the county government of Laikipia purchased about 50 boots for its county askaris.
At his factory, Mr Mwangi works along with his wife, Irene, and two interns from Nyahururu Polytechnic.
He gets his raw materials — pure leather, canvas and sponge, among others — from Nairobi.