The serial entrepreneur
Isaac Machani views problems as opportunities to sell solutions. Through hard work, and despite challenges along the way, he has learned what it takes to turn creative ideas into successful business strategies.
Isaac Machani is a nurse by profession, a serial entrepreneur, and Alaymach Agencies Limited owner. However, his love of entrepreneurship is an itch that is pushing him to shift from employment to a full-time business owner.
Alaymach Agencies Limited offers safety solutions. It trains those in workplaces and equips them to be safe at work. Machani mentions, “We train workers in First Aid, fire safety, and we do occupational safety and health committee training.” The company audits workplaces to ensure they comply with safety standards according to the Health and Safety Act of 2007.
As a full-time employee, Machani started by funding his business, including registration, from savings. He advises that you shouldn’t use all the profits. Instead, invest them into the business. “I ploughed back the money I made from my first outdoor activity,” he says. He paid for the branding from the money earned from the first CampNasi (a subsidiary of Alaymach Agencies) excursion. “For the first trip, I managed to take a busload of adventure seekers to Mount Kenya’s Castle Forest.”
Machani’s entrepreneurial experience spans 20 years.”I’ve tried lots of businesses along the way. I had, at some point, a shop where kids used to pay to play video games. The shop also offered photocopy and printing services. I’ve also tried greenhouse farming.”
Machani went into the safety solutions business with a partner before he ventured off to start Alaymach Agencies Limited. He was a 50 percent shareholder in the first venture. They earned KSH 400 000 on their first job. He reveals, “That was my light bulb moment. I was like, ‘I think in business one can earn more than in employment’. You can do a job for somebody for two or three hours and earn a lot of money. That is one of the positive things about entrepreneurship.”
Along the way, Machani has learned that it is best to do something for which one is passionate. He was a health and safety and security manager for over six years. He is passionate about ensuring that everybody who goes into the workplace returns home in one piece. Before that, he was a General Service Unit (GSU) officer for 10 years. Part of the training involved map exercises and route matches. “We were given a litre of water, a box of biscuits, and a compass for the team leader. We were given points along a terrain to go and look for either something hidden or find our way to the next place where we would be given other coordinates. We used to cover 60 or 70 kilometres in one day. So that’s where the passion for hiking came from,” he says.
At the moment, Machani is the sole owner of Alaymach Agencies Limited. And, from experience, he prefers it that way. He states, “Over the years, I tried partnerships, and some of them didn’t turn out so well. I don’t think I’ll go into partnership again, but I wouldn’t discourage you from trying because I found that people grow and have different visions.”
Machani says that he’s lucky to have worked as a health and safety manager in the hospitality industry, which is service-based. “The quality of customer care that you give a client is high. So, such transferable skills are very important when you start your own business,” he insists, adding, “develop discipline as you cannot manage other people if you cannot manage your own life.” A good entrepreneur must be a disciplined timekeeper; this reflects your services. Be disciplined in managing your finances. Be consistent. “As an entrepreneur, you’ll not get results overnight. You have to keep at it as, sometimes, the results are not immediate. Also, be a patient person to be able to see the fruits of the work that you’re putting in,” he imparts.
“My vision is to have this become a regional business,” Machani says. And if possible, he’d like to have global branches. “I think if you have such dreams, you always don’t want to stay in one place,” he shares.