My name is Patam Abrosa. I am 34 years old. I was born and raised in Eldoret, Kenya. I am married and I have one child, a boy of two and a half years.
On January 27, 2020, I lost a Friend, Employer, and soon to be a business partner in an extremely painful accident at work. It is my sincere hope and prayer that with your generous contribution, I will raise US$ 25,000 funding required to open Lodwar GlassMart & Hardware. This is a vision we both shared and I would like to actualize it. Your support means a lot to us. Please consider donating or spreading the word about our cause.
As a young child, I grew up homeless in the streets of Eldoret until age 13 when I was taken to a street children’s rescue centre. At the rescue centre, I was lucky to be one of those selected to be taken through formal education. With help from different well-wishers, I graduated in 2012 with a degree in business management. I spent the following three years looking for a decent job without much success. While in the process of looking for a job, I volunteered my free time to work for Lewa Children’s Home - an organization that takes care of orphans and babies abandoned in hospitals from all over Kenya.
One cloudy Sunday in September 2016, a group of local Indian community visited the children’s home to donate food, toys, and clothes for the children. Among the visiting Indians was a guy called Moiz Dalal. We had been classmates in high school but lost touch with each other after he went to India for his university studies and I remained to study in Kenya. Now I knew that his family, the Dalals, owned one the largest glass distributing businesses in Eldoret. We got talking and before they left, I asked Moiz if he could offer me a job. Sure enough, he did. I was employed as the person in charge of shipping and deliveries of customers’ orders across the northern rift valley.
One of the places I travelled to regularly in the course of my work is Lodwar town in Turkana county, which happens to be the second-largest county in Kenya. Lodwar itself including its immediate surroundings has a population of 60,000+. The town functions as the main commercial centre serving other towns in the wider county including the UNHCR funded Kakuma refugee camp. It also serves as the headquarters of Turkana county.
As time progressed, my travelling frequency delivering glasses to Lodwar and other towns in Turkana and West Pokot counties doubled in 2018 and went up again in 2019. I couldn’t help wondering why no one had opened a hardware that specialized in stocking glasses, both building and motor vehicle. I did some research on the subject and realized that no one had simply thought about it.
The Idea, The Vision, The Plan
Around June 2019, I approached Moiz and ended up having a lengthy discussion about the opportunity that was staring at us and the potential for success. Two weeks following our discussion, Moiz and I travelled to Lodwar to carry out what we termed as, a five-day ‘feasibility study’. After the fifth day, we noted down some interesting factors favouring the opening of a glassmart in Lodwar.
1. That since the adoption of a new constitution by Kenyans in 2010 and the subsequent introduction of devolved units of government in 2013, Turkana County has witnessed growth in a wide range of development projects in many different areas. These projects range from major upgrades of the road network by the National Government to the construction of new hostels to house students from the recently chartered Turkana university students. Major entities contributing to this growth include:
Non-Government Organizations (NGOs)
Oil and Renewable energy (wind, solar, geothermal) contractors
National Government Contractors
And many more
2. That glass is one of the key components used in all types of urban buildings. The increase in demand for different types of building glasses was as a result of a corresponding increase in the number of new buildings coming up.
3. That, as the number of motor vehicles in the county increases, there was a corresponding rise in the demand for motor vehicle glasses as well.
4. That for the preceding two years, we had ourselves witnessed an increased frequency in the number of people calling from Lodwar or other towns in Turkana County and asking for different types of glasses from Eldoret.
5. That there was no single hardware in Lodwar town nor the entire length and breadth of Turkana county that specialized in glass products.
To this end, Moiz and I agreed to work jointly as business partners and determined to open a glass hardware store in Lodwar town before the end of April 2020. We settled on the name, Lodwar GlassMart & Hardware. We estimated that we would require US$ 30,000 in start-up funding. We worked on the Business plan that would help us raise the funds required. According to our business plan, Moiz and I would put in US$ 7,000 of our savings, i.e. Moiz would contribute US$ 5,000 and Patam would contribute US$ 2,000. (This inequality in contribution was based on the mutual understanding that Moiz came from a relatively wealthy family while I, on the other hand, was earning US$ 250/month as shipping and delivery guy for their business.)
A critical element in our plan required Moiz to utilize his established connections with major glass dealers in Kenya (most of which are from the same community as he), to secure US$ 18,000 in start-up inventory. This would have seen us sign agreements with the three largest glass dealers in Eldoret to supply inventory on credit.
Finally, we planned to borrow the remaining US$ 5,000 from a local bank with a repayment period of two years.
By January 10, our business plan was complete, polished and printed. Now we just waited for an appointment with our would-be creditor. And Indeed, Moiz had managed to secure an appointment with the first of our three creditors. The meeting was to take place at 5 pm on Monday, January 27, 2020, in one of the hotels in Eldoret. Alas! As fate would have it, on that very day at about 2 pm in the afternoon, Moiz, while offloading a new consignment of glass from a shipping container that had arrived at their warehouse storage facility, was crushed by a 1.5-ton box of glasses. He was rushed to the emergency room but unfortunately, he had lost too much blood from internal bleeding. At 4 pm, he was pronounced dead. At 9:30 pm, we buried him.
And Just like that, I lost a friend and partner. His death marked the premature end of us yet to be actualized idea and plan we had shared and worked on for months. Or so it seemed. As of this writing, it has been 19 days since the passing of my friend.
But instead of losing hope and giving up, I have resolved to carry on with the plans we worked on together for all those months. To give up is like to attempt whipping my friend’s memory. It is true that I don’t have the same connections and contacts as Moiz did. The three creditors Moiz had been making arrangements for us to meet with during the last week of his 34-year-old life, all came from the same Indian community and they attended the same family events and went to their own mosque that no one else outside their community was allowed into. As a matter of fact, even though Moiz and I had agreed to go 60:40 in the partnership, we also had a prearranged pitch and edited parts of the plan we were to take to the meeting showed that only Moiz was the owned the business and that I, was going to be his manager. Otherwise, they can’t agree to a member of their community being in partnership with an outsider.
So, in other words, the idea, the vision, the plan of Lodwar GlassMart still exists. The route we had originally taken closed up when Moiz passed on. Thus, I shall do something. I shall find an alternative way to raise the funds. For the idea, the vision, and the plan for Lodwar GlassMart must and shall be actualized. The reason for my resolve is twofold:
1. I will honour his memory by carrying on with the work he so loved and together we were looking forward to having our own glass business that was not controlled by his family.
2. His widow has asked me not to give up and to show her support, she has agreed to contribute US$ 3,000 into the business. For this, she will take the place left by Moiz as a partner.
And so, with no family background of my own, but with the little savings I have managed over the years, a definite resolve, and a heart full of determination, I turn to you my fellow residents of planet earth. It is my sincere hope and prayer that with your assistance in small yet generous contributions, I will raise the US$ 25,000 required to open Lodwar GlassMart & Hardware before the end of April 2020.
Here is a breakdown of how the money raised will be used.
Start-Up Expenses: Amount
Rent (Deposit + 3 months’ rent & utilities) US$ 2,700.00
Partitioning & General preparations US$ 3,000.00
Inventory Control US$ 3,000.00
Legal (License/Business Permit) US$ 750.00
Miscellaneous US$ 750.00
Total Start-up Expenses US$ 10,200 .00
Cash at Start-up US$ 500.00
Tools & Furniture US$ 350.00
Motor Vehicle Glasses US$ 10,800.00
Building Glasses US$ 5,400.00
Other Hardware Items US$ 1,800.00
Total Assets US$ 18,850.00
Total Start-up Requirements US$ 29,050.00
A Note About Moiz Dalal and The Bohras
It so happens that the glass industry in East Africa is controlled by a minority Muslim community of Indian origin known as the Bohras. This a tightly knit community in which every family knows and is known by every other Bohra family in the region. They do business with each other, marry only amongst themselves, and they even have their own mosques in which non-Bohras are not welcome, Muslim or not. My friend and partner Moiz Dalal, was different.
Though he was a Bohra, he was not tied down by his community’s cultural and religious traditions. He went against the community’s requirements that every Bohra man should marry a Muslim lady from within the Bohra community, and at the risk of being denounced and outcast from his immediate family and community at large, he married a black Kenyan lady who was not a Muslim but a Christian called Irene Chebet. Together they had two children, a four-year-old boy named Ivan and a five months old girl named Shanaz.
Many of his family members including his father, mother and even his younger brother have refused to acknowledge his kids terming them “Haram”. It is part of the reason why I accepted to continue with this plan. Seeing that his widow is staring at an uncertain future as a single mother of two, and no work, and no education, and unacknowledged by the family and community of her late Muslim husband, I figure it is the human thing for me to carry on the plans we had with Moiz with her as a partner. At least that way, whatever share of dividends would have gone to Moiz, will go to her and the children