BusinessPeople Daily

Ruhi sails on sweet scents to millions

Fred Aminga @faminga

When opportunities knock at the door, take the challenge with open hands, even though they may be on uncharted waters. That is Ruhi Suttarwala’s life lesson following a visit to Dubai in July last year. All she wanted was to have a good time with her brother who works in Dubai and then rush back to Kenya, however, what followed changed her life forever.

Through a casual chat with her brother during that visit a multimillion-shilling business idea started on account of her brother’s suggestion that she start selling perfumes back in Kenya. Ruhi went on to research about perfumes and surprised even herself when she came up with a two-pronged approach to sell in Kenya without the hassle of a physical shop.

The first option was to stock various perfumes brands and sell them using her social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter. The other was to use emerging online retailers to help push the products.

Armed with Sh300,000 Perfumes Kenya was born with both online retailer Jumia and Facebook as her preferred sales platforms. Although business was a bit slow at first, Ruhi never gave up. At the onset about 70 per cent of her sales were made through Facebook while the rest were sold through Jumia.

This, however, changed drastically in less than two months with Jumia pushing about 80 per cent of her stock. For one who started the business with little online sales experience, Ruhi says she leverages a lot on Jumia’s experts who have helped her package her products better for consumers.

Ruhi is particularly grateful for the boost that Jumia Black Friday sales bonanza presented to her company, where she managed to sharply increase sales by more than 20 times her monthly target. She actually stood out among the more than 6,000 seasoned vendors on competitive prices as well as the number of orders delivered to clients on time without cancellations.

“I moved up to 80 pieces a day with prices ranging between Sh5,000 and Sh11,000. This was a very sharp increase in orders. I was shocked to even get an order from someone at the Kenyan-Tanzania border,” she says.

She says the online marketplace makes life easier for her and has good returns if products are placed well. The only challenge is maintaining quality and timely deliveries. Fortunately for the former banker, Jumia gave her a loan facility to boost her business, significantly boosting her sales.

“They just said they had looked at my weekly sales performance, and offered me a loan, and just like that Sh500,000 was in my account after five days. But I managed to pay back the money,” she says.

“Having started the business in May 2017 with Sh300,000, I had a turnover of close to Sh2 million by the end of Black Friday,” she says, adding that she now plans to expand the variety of perfumes in her stable.

Ruhi now plans to expand horizontally by venturing into fashion business, particularly the men’s fashion stable. “This will become clear after my trip to Bangkok,” says Ruhi who chanced on the trip following her robust performance during last year’s Jumia Black Friday sales bonanza. She emerged among the top performers for her efforts during that time and is part of on an all-expenses paid five-day trip to Bangkok, Thailand in April 2018.

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