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If you are alive, the worst never happened. Dust yourself off and start where you are!

The best place to start is where you are right now! I understand that no encouragement is too little to offer. Any act of goodwill is always good.
Joseph Wambugu in 2017

The best place to start is where you are right now!

I rarely write on topics other than agriculture but today want to write something just to encourage my readers, not because I am a subject-matter expert, but because I understand that no encouragement is too little to offer. Any act of goodwill is always good regardless of whether it is big or small.

2020 has been a difficult year that can simply be summarized into COVID-19. Whether you work in the agriculture sector like myself, or any other sector, COVID-19 has changed the way we live, most people are calling it the new normal but the “new normal” is not normal at all.

COVID-19 has rubbed people the wrong way. It has denied us the freedom to socialize. Many have lost their jobs, businesses, and loved ones. If any of this has happened to you in 2020, I understand the pain, fear, and frustration that it engenders, but do not let the sense of defeat settle in your mind. You can get up and shake off your dust because the future is still luminous. Put wishes aside and know that the best place to start is where you are right now.

If you have lived in Kenya or an African country, then you will understand my story and its relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a personal story, just to encourage someone who has been hit by the pandemic in one way or the other.

Kenya’s elections are held every five years. If you work for SME companies, then you understand that during every election year, you stand a high risk of losing your job or going for several months without salary due to prolonged business downtime. For SMEs, every election year is a pandemic year.

Kenya held its last elections in 2017. I used to work for a consulting firm as an agribusiness consultant. The year started well with a lot of projects that had spilled over from 2016. As the year progressed, we completed most of the pipeline projects and things started to slow down from the second quarter.  Most of our partners were in a state of wait-and-see.

By July 2017, everybody in the company was on half salary, and from August, there was no money to pay anyone at all. In consulting, it’s easy to understand that without news projects, there was obviously no money in the company to pay anyone. So, I took no offense against the company because we had the hope the political temperatures could cool down and we get back to business as usual. Unfortunately, 2017 ended in high political instability that spilled over to 2018.

From the second quarter of 2017, there was no enough work, we used to leave the office early or sometimes work from home.

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Salary was no more but I needed to take care of my bills. I did not want to sit back and wait for the situation to normalize. I took matters into my own hands.

I started an “evening business” which I used to run from 4 pm to 9 pm every day after work. The business consisted of roasting meat (mostly internal organs) by the roadside. In Kenya, we call it the “mutura” which simply means roasted offal for pedestrians to snack as they pass by.

From my calculations, I knew the business was very profitable, and with at least 20 customers per day, I wouldn’t have to worry about my rent.

The “mutura” business is not a dignified job to do anywhere in Kenya but I did not let my ego stop me. I rolled up the sleeves and did the business for over five months until enough workload returned in our company and there was new hope for getting paid again.

I returned to work fulltime in February 2018 and I had to close my roadside business because I did not have time to attend to it.

I never regretted putting my ego aside and doing such a business. I enjoyed serving customers and I was able to pay my bills for the months I went without salary. I made a lot of friends through the business.

The best place to start is where you are right now! I understand that no encouragement is too little to offer. Any act of goodwill is always good.

BOTTOMLINE

When your world comes crashing down, you have a chance to do something you couldn’t have done before: rise up.

Frustrations can change you for the best. If you let it, what happens to you becomes fuel for something new. It teaches you how to live through what you thought would destroy you.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Successful 2021

Yours truly,

Wambugu Farmer

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