Disability does not stand a chance between anyone and their aspiration. As a matter of fact, the real disability is the disability of will and determination. That is the story of one Topista Ayuma in Kitengela.
We find her, closing a half full tin of lollipops. Then she feels the 20-shilling coin to assert it is the correct amount, and puts it in her money bag. This is her only way of ensuring she does not incur unexpected loss of her products. The customer then walks away with two lollipops in her hand. Welcome to Topista’s shop.
In front of St. Monica Catholic Church, she sits under an umbrella attached to a table. Her products well-displayed on the table. She is unbothered about the sun and the unforgiving dust that carelessly blows on to her face and products every now and then. It used to be a matter of concern but not anymore. She is used to the dust. This is a spot she has grown to treasure over the years; a place she calls shop. If anything, she is comfortable within the location since it sets her apart as a business lady.
Topista’s childhood was just normal, a girl born into a family of 5 – three girls and two boys. However, at the age of five life altered the course of her life. A botched head operation interfered with her sight. A situation that left her visually impaired to date.
With the support of her loved ones, she lived through life with the new version of herself. She even took a computer course in after high school. Then, after bookish years in school, jobs became hard to come by. At that time, she wanted something of her own. Borrowing on the streets was not an option either. She had to think fast. After sometime she made up her mind. She wanted to be an entrepreneur. Topista approached one of her acquaintances who was available to hear her pitch and generous enough to offer her seed capital to kick start her business.
With her new found capital, she ventured into selling church products. She set up her stall next to Power Star Supermarket in Kitengela shopping Center. Although she understood her choice of products well, she had not analyzed her customers very well. The sales were just not picking despite her numerous efforts to market her products.
After sometime, it was clear that what she had considered a strategic position for her business was not working. She had to reassess the business environment. That is when she moved the business next to St. Monica Catholic church.
Business boomed! The growth was so commendable that she decided to increase her product offering by incorporating little snacks like sweets , biscuits, water and chewing gum .
Topista has been continuously expanding her product offering that has led to the tremendous growth of her business. Her expansion and growth brought with it new challenges; lack of capital to boost the business has proved to be an uphill task. been very significant. Mobile loans have been her saving grace to sustaining the business over the years. It even gets hard sometimes to access mobile loans when you’re in debt of a previous loan.
Then came COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of worship places that has significantly affected her business especially because half of her customers are worshippers.
Despite the challenges of being a visually impaired entrepreneur, Topista’s resilience has paid off for she is able to support her family through this business. According to her “disability is not inability”.