Agnes Wanjiru Kuria


She attributes her success to God who has enabled her to put more effort in what she does. “When my husband passed away, people thought that I would not make it alone. They waited for the downfall of my business but I have proved them wrong. I never gave up!” avers Agnes Wanjiru Kuria.

Her beginning was humble and today, the 36 year old entrepreneur runs the successful Optosmart Opticals in Nairobi’s central business district. Having worked in the optical industry before, her husband had gained enough skills and experience to venture into into the field. At that time her husband was in formal employment and so it was Agnes’ responsibility to run the family business with the support of her husband.

Established in 1998, is a small shop in Biashara Street, the company has grown to become a major player in the sale and distribution of optical goods in wholesale in the city and nearby towns. Her job saw her travel to different towns in the country selling optical goods in wholesale to optical shops, clinics and opticians.

Initially, they sold spectacle parts such as frames and lenses only but today OptoSmart Opticals also assemble spectacles for clients. “I worked alone for two years before my husband quit his job and joined me. It then became his responsibility to go to the field and meet the clients while I worked from the office,” she says.

In 2005, they moved to a bigger office as the business was doing well. They needed more space to accommodate their clients (whose number was growing by the day) and to store the optical merchandise.

In 2006, while residing in Kiambu, Agnes was introduced to PAWDEP by some women friends. They highlighted to her the benefits enjoyed from PAWDEP such as getting loans for starting or advancing their businesses. (When in need of loans the group members guarantee one another).

After much thought and deliberations with her spouse, she made a decision that changed her life and business. Agnes joined a group of thirty women and became a member of PAWDEP. The group members started making monthly contributions (between Kshs. 500 and Kshs. 2,000) depending on one’s ability.

In 2007, Agnes got her first loan of Kshs. 10,000 which she pumped into the family business. “I repaid my loan after a short time and continued receiving other loans (between Kshs. 20,000 and Kshs. 50,000),” she says. With time, she managed to open a workshop equipped with the necessary machinery for assembling a wide range of spectacles. In addition, she employed three qualified personnel.

The young entrepreneur was advanced a Kshs. 400,000 individual loan by PAWDEP in March, 2008. Armed with this money she travelled to Dubai with her husband and bought optical goods. Unfortunately in the same year, her husband passed on and it was her sole duty to continue building what they had been working for over the years.

Agnes managed to repay her loan on time and in 2009 she qualified and successfully secured a Kshs. 800,000 loan. This enabled her to open an optical retail shop in Nairobi’s River Road. Nowadays, she doesn’t have to travel to Dubai to get her stock as she buys directly from factories in China.

Agnes is one of the lucky women who have benefited from the training programmes organized by the microfinance institution. “There was a time we went for training at the United States International University (USIS) courtesy of PAWDEP. I learnt a lot on how to run a business effectively, the importance of having a business plan and how to deal with clients and employees,” she offers.

She plans to open more optical retail shops in Nairobi and Eldoret.