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Eric Kinoti and Shade Systems: How Tent-Manufacturing Became a Million-Dollar Business in Kenya

It’s #EntrepreneurTuesday and our featured entrepreneur has this to say: “Think big, start small, start now!!!”

Eric Kinoti
Source: EricKinoti.com

His success has gained lots of recognition globally and he is on the boards of several prominent East African companies. He is the Kenyan youth patron in the Kenyan chambers of commerce and has received recognition as a youth entrepreneur from Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta.

Eric Kinoti has appeared in Forbes 40 Under 40 Most Promising African Entrepreneurs twice, and in 2014, he was named in Forbes 30 Under 30 Most Promising African Entrepreneurs . He also received SOMA Awards 2014 Most Influential SME Personality award in the same year.

Eric Kinoti is the Founder and Director of Shade Systems (EA) Ltd, Alma Tents Ltd, Bag Base Kenya Ltd and SafiSana Home Services Ltd.

Shades Systems (EA) Ltd is a million dollar company that manufactures and supplies military and relief tents, branded gazebos, restaurant canopies, car parking shades, marquees, luxury tents, wedding party tents, canvas seats and bouncing castles across Africa including Sudan, Somalia, Congo, Uganda and Rwanda. They are regional leaders in tent manufacturing and have won several accolades over the years.

Who is Eric Kinoti?

Eric Kinoti
Source: CapitalFM

Born 8th March 1984 in Mombasa, he attended St. Martins Boarding Primary School, Abothogochi Academy, Nkubu High School and earned a Diploma in Business Management from Tsavo Park Institute.

When he was ten years old, he worked part-time as a cashier in his father’s wholesale shop, and in school,  he sold sweets, cakes and salt to schoolmates.

After college, he reprised his job as a cashier in a hotel in Malindi, working the night shift. He didn’t spend his days sleeping though. During the day,  he bought and distributed eggs around Malindi town. A few years later, he moved to Nairobi and continued his supply job- this time, distributing milk to hotels around the city.

After a light-bulb moment with a client who ordered supplies for an outdoor event in a tent, Eric Kinoti knew what path he would take. He started the Shade System Company at the age of twenty-four  with five employees and a seed capital of Sh60,000. He saw a business gap because this sector was predominantly controlled by non-indigenes.

Today, Eric Kinoti is the head honcho of five powerful companies in Kenya- Alma Tents – a tent hiring company, Bag Base Kenya Ltd – a manufacturer of bags through cutaway canvas that come from the tent manufacturing process and Safi Sana Home Services – a professional cleaning services company.

Eric Kinoti
Source: EricKinoti.com

Innovation, quality and customer-friendly prices have been employed by Eric Kinoti’s companies in overcoming competition.

His initial challenges included cash-flow problems in the capital intensive manufacturing business and the struggle to earn the trust of potential clients.

According to Eric Kinoti, his biggest goal is to help as many entrepreneurs as possible to succeed. From his challenges, he has recognised the importance of mentorship and how important it is to inspire and guide young people venturing into business.

His advice for aspiring entrepreneurs in an interview with Howwemadeit inAfrica: “Education should foster innovation. To succeed you should take the risk. Youths should not wait to have a lot of money before they can venture into business. They should think big, start small and start now.”

Jennifer Nkem-Eneanya
Jennifer Nkem-Eneanyahttp://jennyuncensored.wordpress.com
5 Things You Didn't Know About Jennifer in 2015: 1. Her newest collection of short stories, 'The Curious Case of the Small Pikin & Other Stories' is available on okadabooks.com 2. She ported from Blogger to WordPress and shares her uncensored thoughts on jennyuncensored.wordpress.com 3. She is an aspiring Filmmaker & Talk-show Host[ess] 4. She's a mother of two, wife of one and daughter of God. 5. She plans to travel around the world in less than 80 days... Now you Know! Find me on Twitter: @jennynkem

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  1. Hii mr kinoti am a young man and am impressed with your effort towards ua entrepreneurial i have an idea that i know can make it big worldwide the problem is i don’t know how to start it coz i fear some one can take my idea and move fast before i know my idea is already working ,plz advice me

  2. We need to encourage entrepreneurial minds to our kids while young so that in their age of maturity they’re already business minded. Just like Eric, He has already started working at 10.

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