Civil engineer by profession, Simon Gitau is currently a Construction Project Manager at Astute Artisans Limited, a Nairobi based company he founded back in 2019. In this interview, he shares with us his journey from working as a civil engineer to starting his own business.
One of the first challenges Simon faced was ensuring his employees were adequately trained to interact with customers and other team members. As he recounts, he had to intervene as a manager on a few occasions to foster a smooth relationship between his team members. Through this challenge, he became a stronger leader.
In terms of finances and working capital, Simon faced hurdles to raise the funds required to complete his projects. To address this issue, he decided to partner with organizations such as Mkono in order to secure a stable working capital.
Lastly, as his company grew, Simon realized the importance of company structuring. Finding the right supervisors for his team, hiring an accountant to keep track of company finances were all things he tackled on.
“I started as a solo entrepreneur. But overtime, you realize you cannot do it all by yourself. We can have three location sites that are far from each other, so the question is, how do we manage?”
Learning Never Stops
When asked about his interests, Simon mentioned his enthusiasm for learning. Indeed, from his start as an entrepreneur, Simon partook in several programs to deepen his knowledge about being a business owner.
In 2016, he got a certificate in applied accounting from the Oxford Brookes University. Most recently, he went through a 4-months academy at Sinapis, one of our partners, where he learned a lot about sales, accountancy, working capital management, and more. Simon also participated in Mkono’s mentorship program, where our Allies helped him review his accountancy system.
Goals For the Future
In the short-term, Simon aims to open a workshop that he can use to build furniture and all kinds of supplies for his construction projects. One of the main motivations behind his workshop is to retain more contract employees after project completion. With more active members working on producing items, he hopes to have a consistent cash-flow throughout the year, including in-between projects.
In the long-term, Simon hopes to get more involved in real-estate. One of his ideas include providing consultancy services for people looking to purchase, or build real-estate.
How Mkono Helped Simon
When Simon was struggling to get payments out for his projects, Mkono provided him with a working capital boost that helped him clear his funding faster. With being able to complete his projects, Simon was able to grow his business, and create employment opportunities. As he describes, "With more capital, we don’t have to release our team when a big project ends. This is good for them, but also their families that depend on us."
Mkono strives to empower entrepreneurs like Simon, a leader within his community. From his university days, to leading projects as a civil engineer, to now, owning his own business, Simon represents a great inspiration for all of us. So, if by chance you have a kitchen that needs renovating, making sure to check out Astute Artisans!