Entrepreneur who failed in over 15 businesses for 20 years but never gave up

Pauline Kinja
Pauline Kinja, a Kenyan businesswoman who has tried more than 15 business in the last two decades which ended up crumbling. [Photo: Pauline Kinja]

Pauline Kinja is a perfect definition of resilience in entrepreneurship and in life.

Kinja recently stunned Kenyans by revealing her challenging journey in business for the last 20 years.

Out of over 15 businesses she tried in the last two decades, they failed and only the last one which she ventured into in 2019 blossomed but was knocked down the COVID-19 pandemic.

It started as a casual conversation in a local Facebook group, “52-Week Savings Challenge Kenya” where she asked participants how many businesses they have operated.

For her, she joking said that it is only peddling marijuana which she hasn’t tried in the last 20 years.

“How many businesses have you done before succeeding in the business you are doing?” she posed adding “Mimi ni bhangi tu sijauza since 2000”.

Kinja who now runs a successful venture in groceries, courier services and a snack joint shocked many as she listed a new business she operated every year but it failed since 2000.

Here is her list:

2000 – Oven made cupcakes for 6 months … Cereal shop for 6 months Meru -Kinoro

2001 -Simu ya Jamii and mtush for ladies -kinoro

2002 – Salon -Meru -keria

2003- Wholesale shop -Meru -kinoro

2004 – Hoteli za ushagoo -kinoro

2005-Selling stacks _Meru kinoro tea factory

2006 – Bar &restaurant Meru -kk

2007 -2008 Hand made mats, wooden kikoys, babies clothes (mtush) Nairobi

2007 Nov to april 2008-Employed at only 6000 salary

2008 -Phones &accessories-Tearoom

2010 -phones &accessories -Luthuli

2012 – Exporting phones in Uganda

2013 – Selling food in town (literally kuzungusha food ya mia

2014 – Selling phones &accessories near ambassador

2015 – Started hawking samosas, Mandazi and Chapatis

2016 – Opened a kahotel in Langata plus side catering plus training and placing househelps

2017 – Opened a take out snacks place in Rongai

2018 – Got serious in catering closed the two places

2019 -Concentrated in catering fully, God decided to bless me now

When her catering business peaked in 2019, she was elated and enjoyed the fruits of her two-decade wait for a good business.

In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic crushed her flourishing business and sent her to the drawing board once more.

Not one known to give up or run out of business ideas, Kinja started Palde Grocery Shop in Lang’ata. The business boomed.

She also started a courier service business transporting goods to and from Meru where she was born. It also flourished.

As 2021 rolled in with reduced cases of coronavirus infections, she went back to her catering business. She is just about to open a snacks take out shop in Lang’ata.

With years of struggle, Kinja never gave up. She notes losing hope is not an option.

“Don’t loose hope today .. I guess I must be the most impatient person in business… I don’t wait if it doesn’t work or maybe someone was not giving me peace then.. But I can’t stay at home. ill either go crazy or get suck… . Yani I must try even when its not working.. I have a long story behind all these businesses. Without peace you can’t do business. With peace, God will also bless your efforts so you could bless another soul.”