Kijiji Republic

“It is important not to shy away from an idea. Put the idea on paper by writing a business plan.” Njoroge Kabugu, Kijiji Republic

It sounds like a movie about the American dream. A native of Kenya moves to Massachusetts. He dreams of opening his own business, and begins writing his business plan on his commute to work at his first job in the U.S.

But then the economy falters, our hero gets laid off. Instead of feeling sorry for himself, he sees it as an indication that it is time to get serious about his dream.

But it is not a movie premise, it is Njoroge Kabugu's life. "I decided that this was a great opportunity. I had to be able to dedicate the majority of my time to completing my business plan and working on my website."

My own American Dream

After his layoff, Kabugu got to work on the plan for Kijiji Republic, a website selling handmade African crafts, baskets, sandals, jewelry, personal accessories and home decor. The company, started in 2008, builds long-term relationships with the artisans whose work they sell. Kijiji Republic not only markets and retails the crafts, but also maintains a nonprofit branch which reinvests money back into the communities where they acquire their products. The goal is to help the artisans meet their basic needs, such as providing clean drinking water, building and supporting schools for children, and providing health facilities. Kijiji Republic also helps its artisans establish their businesses in their local communities, providing them with additional revenue possibilities.

Kabugu feels so strongly about the connection to the villages where the artisans work that the name of his company actually means 'village' in Swahili. "The creation of Kijiji Republic LLC was based on the concept that a village would be elevated... by empowering the people." Selling products in the previously untapped U.S. market was his goal, and in writing his business plan and doing the market research, Kabugu realized he was on to something. "I came to realize I was the only Kenyan selling the products online directly from the U.S.," which helped give him the security to move forward with his plan.

Kabugu says that one of the greatest values of using Business Plan Pro was what it helped him learn about his business. He particularly appreciated being "forced to think systematically throughout the process." He strongly encourages anyone starting out to do as he did. "It is important not to shy away from an idea. Put the idea on paper by writing a business plan. It helps you to be able to see those areas which you may otherwise not realize when you carry it in your head."

With a story that sounds like it's straight out of Hollywood, it might not come as a surprise that Njoroge Kabugu is a big proponent of following through on your dreams.

And of having a plan.

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