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Success chiselled from school of hard knocks

Charles Kinuthia owns a number of companies across the globe. For a man who hated school, dropped out of college and was at one time homeless, his accomplishments have not come easy

Most people drop out of school because of financial constraints, but not Charles Kinuthia. Kinuthia, who completed his secondary school education in the year 2000 did not like school and after four years at Utumishi Boys Academy he scored a D+.

“I knew school work and books were not my cup of tea. I wanted to make money. My father sent me to a college to study computers  after Form Four, but I never made it to class. I would leave home and head to a  mobile phones shop. I soon made a few deals as a broker and made enough money to move out. Soon after, I dropped out of college,” he says.

Kinuthia picked his business acumen when he was still in primary school in Nakuru where his mother worked as a teacher and his father a cab driver.

“That meant that we were not raised in affluence. But they did all they could in their power to send us to school,” he says.  During school sessions, his mother could give him Sh15, which he would use to buy cookies and bread and resell them to his colleagues for profit.

“At some point, I saved Sh900 and bought a camera, which I used to take photos and later sell. My parents, especially my old man would not approve of that and so, we used to have a lot of friction because I did not like going to school,” he says.

Now an accomplished businessman, Kinuthia, 35, has expanded into real estate and has 12 different companies in eight countries including Germany, Canada, Nigeria and Kenya. In 2014, he was awarded for having the fastest growing franchise.

In 2002, he learnt about a Finnish school which he wanted to attend so  that he could work and make more money abroad. “I made it to Finland and was admitted at Helsinki Polytechnic. I had a visa under the student status and that way I lived there for three-and-a-half years, mostly working as opposed to studying so, I did not complete my degree in business,” he says.

He had read a book What I didn’t learn from school but wish I had by one of his favourite authors, Jamie McIntyre and it changed his life so much he had to fly to Australia just to listen to him.  He never returned to Finland.

While in Finland, he cleaned toilets for a living and in Australia after the conference was over, he arranged books for missionaries in a library for a living. “I was even homeless and stranded, but all this while, I knew I wanted to do business and I needed to save up just enough to get an air ticket home or anywhere really,” he reflects. His older brother, fortunately, invited him to the United States in 2006. 

When he got there, he was intent on earning a living as a businessperson. With an equivalent of Sh5,000, he put up a sign as a web developer. “In 2008 I was fired from my second job after resigning from my first,” he says.

When I set up shop, I answered the phone calls as if I had a huge company yet I was operating from my small apartment and sometimes, in my car where I also lived,” the now Wealth Fitness International CEO says.

From the proceeds of his web development jobs, he had to file taxes, which he admits was quite a challenge. “I had a rude encounter with someone who was supposed to help me file taxes and I made it my mission to learn how to file them myself,” he states. Coach CK, as he is known saw a business opportunity and hired people who could help start-ups file tas returns. Soon enough his, One Stop Tax Franchise business picked up.

“It has not been smooth all the way but with my company making revenue, I had enough to buy out software companies as well as tech firms,” he says.” 

At the moment, Coach CK’s empire is worth more than Sh100 million. “That is not without my share of challenges. I almost filed for bankruptcy twice and had instances where some of my business ventures failed,” he says.  He advises anyone eager to start a business to prepare to stick with it  for the long haul.

“Starting a business in a foreign land is tough, even tougher when you are homeless. The grass is not greener on the other side, it’s up to you to make your own path,” he says.

In conclusion, the Chief Executive Officer of the One Stop Tax Franchise Systems Inc cites excellence and determination as prerequisites for creating wealth.

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