George and Njambi Waithiru do everything together.
As a husband-wife duo, they parent together and run two businesses together in Ruaka, Kenya—a town just north of Nairobi.
Over the past 11 years, they’ve grown their businesses, secured loyal customers, and seen many successes. With faith and trust in God, they have always sought to operate their businesses ethically and in alignment with Kingdom principles. But while they’ve experienced success, they've weathered their share of storms, too.
The Waithiru's businesses are both in the construction sector. One, called Handyman Ventures Limited (HV), sells building and construction materials. The other, Handyman Building Services Limited (HBS), provides building services.
George is the sole employee and director of HBS and offers his services as a contractor, while Njambi is the director of HV and employs four people plus five to ten on-call workers each month.
In 2013, they were presented with an opportunity that they couldn’t pass up. A friend of George’s owned a plot of land and offered for the Waithirus to construct a shop for HBS on it.
While they had the permission of their friend, George and Njambi first wanted to ensure the rest of the community was on board with it, too. So, they hosted community meetings to listen to their neighbors, who also granted them permission to begin construction.
A Lesson in Diligence
However, the challenges started about three years later when a local church elder claimed that the property the Waithiru’s built on was also his. Therefore, he demanded that they pay him rent for the last three years.
When the Waithirus wouldn’t pay, based on the agreement everyone came to three years earlier, the church elder sent auctioneers to the land and put up a fence with iron sheets to prevent customers from coming to the store. This resulted in HBS losing 4.2 million shillings worth of goods.
In addition to this, the Waithirus also found out that the piece of land the shop was built on was actually a road reserve—meaning they had to tear down the building.
Although facing this challenge wasn’t easy for George and Njambi, it did teach them an important lesson. One lesson is that due diligence must be followed in all legal decisions, no matter how legitimate the documents presented may look.
George says, “For positive results, you cannot take the chance and to not be completely thorough. Go through every document and get to the source of the source, because your business depends on it.”
A Lesson in Integrity
Another hard-earned lesson the Waithirus have learned is the importance of integrity and the necessity of placing integrity at the center of business operations.
With HBS, they began to notice that some customers who had bought goods on credit were now having trouble repaying. But again, the Waithirus persevered. They’ve worked with these customers to repay what they owed, and have learned not to extend credit in the future—or to do so with great caution.
Practicing Kingdom Values
Operating their businesses diligently and with integrity are just two ways the Waithirus practice Kingdom principles. They also start each morning with prayer, and find it helps them and their employees stay focused on what matters most.
Their commitment to ethical, Biblically-rooted business has also earned them a loyal customer base. Many of their customers and suppliers prefer working with them because of their faith and values.
The Waithirus also seek to be a positive presence in their community through job creation and mentoring entrepreneurs; they currently mentor five business owners. They also are an inspiring example of integrating faith and work and working collaboratively a couple.
One driving question that George continues to ask himself is: “How can we build each other up?” With that question in mind, the Waithirus are motivated to continue persevering through the challenges and doing business ethically in a way that serves both God and others.