There are two groups of successful people in any community. Those who are successful because they were born within means and those that find ways through uncertainty to reach success the hard way. The first group earns their bread easily, while the second struggles to lay a foundation first.
Silas Karekezi falls under th second category. He was once a farmer in former Gisenyi prefecture currently Nyabihu district, Western Province. He was not lucky enough to find himself in the first group before he ventured into the business of repairing shoes.
Like many, he thought that shoe repairing was a mean job only for the poor and the failed. When he came to Kigali city in 1999, life was not easy for him. He had no capital to start a well-to-do job, nor did he have an education to help him land a white-collar job.
Luckily, he found a friend who accepted to accommodate him while he was still scheming the city.
At first, he found a short-term job at a construction site as a labourer and earned Rwf10,000 per month. He went back home and gave part of the money to his family and came back to the city.
When he returned, he sat and reflected. He opted out not to suffer that much and ventured into repairing shoes hoping it could help him earn more and survive in the rough city life. He would earn more and send money back to his family in the countryside.
“I used the money that remained to buy a roll of string that cost Rwf500 then, and a small bottle of glue for Rwf400. I sat by the road and waited for customers. Because I was kind to them, customers started coming to have their shoes repaired,” Karekezi narrates.
He had no permanent address except for shifting from place to place. But later on, he made a step further and was able to buy more tools to improve his business.
He made losses, but kept moving on.
“When you start a business and make no losses, you cannot learn how to control money,” he says.
Indeed learnt some useful basics and was able to stay afloat. He has made enough to rent his own house. He is no longer on the street. He works from his rented house in Nyarutarama.
He now able to support 15 dependents. He also bought his own shoemaking machines, and his plans to expand and begin supplying shoes in rural areas and create jobs.
He believes that by making more savings, he will generate enough to raise the required capital.
“If I save Rwf1000 per day, at the end of the month I will have Rwf30000. If I work for two, three months it will be Rwf90000. This is enough money for the capital,” Karekezi reassures himself.
In his own standards, he believes he is a success.