The resilience of a teenage entrepreneur

Inside David Nkurunziza’s shop. Photos by Joan Mbabazi.

David Nkurunziza is a fresh high school graduate of Gihogwe Secondary School, Gasabo District, who grew up wanting to venture into business on completing formal education.

His father had always advised him on being innovative from a young age.

This led him to want to start a business while still in high school, something his parents urged him to put on hold and complete formal schooling.

 While in school, the 19 year old saved a portion of his pocket money and by the time he completed school, he had saved significant capital to start his own clothes business.

His father supplemented to his savings enabling him start a clothing shop that sells men’s T-shirts, sports jerseys and shoes. He had a chat with Business Times’ Joan Mbabazi about his journey in this business.

How did you come up with this type of business?

I actually had different plans, I wanted to start up a pancakes business but my friends discouraged me rather advising me to venture in something that would be needed by everyone in all seasons.

Nkurunziza looks  on as a customer checks out the shoes.

I learned that there may not be much market for pancakes in comparison to shoes and clothes. I was interested in starting a men’s clothes and shoe store.

My family members complemented my savings to help me start the business. We began importing clothes and shoes from countries like China, and Turkey.

 My next worry was attracting customers considering that I was new on the market. I could take samples of my products to different shops in town to promote the store.

 I also did a lot of promotions, giving customers discounts.

Slowly, I began acquiring customers.

At the start, I would have like five to seven customers a day. At that time, all I could afford was a tent in Remera where I operated for two months. In December, I shifted to a container near Ndoli supermarket, Remera, where I am up to now. Each day came with a new experience.

There are things I could never have learned if I hadn’t started, for instance; bookkeeping (like recording financial transactions, for example, purchases, sales, receipts, and payments by individuals), keeping the discipline of saving, marketing tactics and much more.

Who are your targeted customers?

My customers are young sports guys since I sell sports jerseys. There are times I get a full football team buying sports clothes and shoes. Sometimes I dress a group of grooms’ men for a wedding. Such moments are one of my best because I get many customers at ago.

Over the six months period in business, what have you achieved?

I have gained daily customers. I opened a savings account where I deposit Rwf 200,000 per month. I can cater for all my necessities without bothering my parents.

I want to save enough to be able to pay for my tuition and all financial expenses at University. I am looking forward to joining university after opening up another branch of the business.

I have employed one person so far.

What does the future hold for you?

I want to help my family financially. My wish is to be part of my country’s development by contributing to programmes like “Umuganda.”

I want to make a change in this generation through talking to youths that they can engage in business to keep them occupied and avoid idleness as it comes with other vices like drug abuse.

What does it take to start this kind of business?

First of all, you need to be committed; with or without experience you will make the best out of it, with commitment.

Be ready to take risks, it is normal. Locate your business in a place that can easily be accessed by your customers. Know what your customers prefer and offer exactly that. Startup costs can be any amount you have.

You should have a business plan that has a summary of the financial aspects of the company, operational procedures and future projections for at least five years.

You ought to also include any valid information or details about products and services you intend to offer and marketing information. Know the market and advertising plan you intend to use.

For youths who have dreams, don’t sit on them, allow parents to support you. On your own, you might not make it but with support, you will go far.


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