Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Rags to riches

Kenya’s Geoffrey Mutai wins the 115th running of the Boston Marathon last Monday in Boston, Massachusetts.
Kenya’s Geoffrey Mutai wins the 115th running of the Boston Marathon last Monday in Boston, Massachusetts.  

In Summary
  • He worked as a farm hand to get money for training kit and other basic needs, but now, Boston Marathon champion Mutai is a millionaire!

Geoffrey Kiprono Mutai’s script reads like that of most Kenyan world-beating runners - that he overcame hardship to conquer the world. But the new Boston Marathon champion’s story is not another cliche, and offers a lot of renewed hope to fresh, upcoming athletes.

Born of peasant farmers in Mumberes village of Koibatek District, Mutai’s family could hardly afford sugar, which made him endure sugar-less tea and porridge, a situation that encouraged him to train harder and run faster to earn money from the athletics, just like he had seen many of his neighbours and other great Kenyans do. It is normal for one to train and get back to tiresome farm duties daily, but it was determination to uplift his “sugar-less” home that slid Mutai into global glory.

The 29-year-old Mutai started running in 1994 while a Standard Four pupil at Tuiyotich Primary School in Nakuru. As a young boy – and given that he was dreaming of a way to deliver his family from the quagmire of poverty – Mutai had unbridled love for athletics. He could sneak away from home with his peers, walk to the nearby Mumberes Trading Centre in Timboroa to watch the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games athletics competition, paying what was then a staggering Sh5 fee to follow the Games on a black and white TV set.  
“I could watch and then experiment their (athletes’) running styles. I loved it,” said Mutai. “Unfortunately, I did not perform well at the school competitions.”

The first born in a family of 11 says he used to hear of veterans, including trailblazers Kipchoge Keino and Ben Jipcho, on radio and from his relatives and he kept dreaming of conquering the world too.He sat for his Kenya Certificate of Primary Schools Examinations in 1998 and passed well but the abject poverty in his family denied him entry into secondary school. “We faced school fees hitches. But we had to accept the situation,” said Mutai on arrival in Eldoret last week after running the fastest marathon of all time in Boston last Monday, clocking 2:03.02.“I remained with the running option only, and my speciality was the long distance.”

Mutai worked as a labourer on his neighbour’s farms, tilling the land to earn a living and get money to buy his training kit and basic needs to the family. In 1999, he entered into an agreement to weed someone’s farm and get a passport processing fee in return. He woke up early in the mornings for long runs and returned home to prepare for farm duties. While mixing the two tasks, locals mocked him and even advised him to discontinue running and instead concentrate on the farms as the workload was hectic.

But the highly religious runner set his sights firmly on putting on the national colours and in 2002, he qualified for the World Junior Championships in Kingston, Jamaica, in the 3,000m steeplechase. But since he never had a birth certificate, his dream to board a plane crash-landed. In 2004, he picked up a tendon injury that ruled him out for the entire season.Later, he was fortunate to secure a contract at the Kenya Power and Lighting Company as a general worker in Nakuru. But after one year, he was laid off, but the misfortune did not stop the determined Mutai.

“I used the little savings I made from KPLC and went to the Kiptenden Athletics Club in Kericho.”
“I met the late coach David Kosgei who took to secondary schools competitions, where I finished eighth in four kilometre race.“The performance denied me a place in the camp and I made my way back home,” Mutai told Monday Sport. The soft-spoken and friendly Mutai says he returned home to work on another strategy to explore his athletic prowess.

“I was not disheartened and I went on with training. Within two months, I joined Kapng’entuny Athletics Club (in Eldoret East) where I still train in. And in 2006, I raced at the Mt Kilimanjaro race, finishing in sixth position,” Mutai said as he cuddled his two-year-old daughter Mitchel Jebet.

It was the 2007 Kass Marathon in Eldoret that, finally, opened up an opportunity for Mutai, who is managed by Dutchman Gerard Van de Veen of Volare Sports. He finished second in that race.“Although the course was quite tough to many runners, I found it easy since I had trained at the hilly areas of Kapng’etuny. It was here that I met my manager Gerard. We agreed on terms and he organised me to race in Monaco in 2008, where I won in 2:12.40.” He then won the Loopfesstijn Voorthuizen 10km race in The Netherlands, shattering the 28:05 course record before bettered his personal best time to 2:07.50 at the Eindhoven Marathon.

He later signed up for the Seoul International Marathon and, although he did finish the race, he wound up eight in the Daegu Marathon a month later on the course to be used for this year’s IAAF World Championships in Athletics. Mutai ran one of the fastest marathons in Rotterdam last year, setting a new personal best time of 2:04.55 in a race won by compatriot Patrick Makau. He then bagged a bronze medal at the African Athletics Championships in the 10,000m and raced in the Berlin Marathon finishing second in 2:05.10.

After a fifth place at the World Cross Country Championships in Punta Umbria, Spain, Mutai won last Monday’s Boston Marathon in the fastest time ever recorded for a marathon. “The cross-country sharpened me so well and Boston was quite good for me,” he says.

His wife Beatrice and parents Emmy and Andrew Koech never expected Mutai would not only deliver them from poverty but also steal the global athletics limelight.

For his exploits in Boston, Mutain earned $225,000 (about Sh20 million) in prize money, and undisclosed amounts in endorsements.

“I never imagined that one day he will be under the world’s spotlight.

“It is God’s blessings to him for he respects his parents. It was also a reward for his persevering, loving respectful character and for a man who dedicates love to his family.

“I pray God to guide him to bring more glory to Kenya,” said Beatrice.
Mutai’s mother Emmy Koech says Andrew Koech, the athlete’s father, was equally a proud father.

Source:  www.nation.co.ke

Sunday, December 11, 2011

From rags to riches, a business success story

Philani Sola was raised in poverty, but instead of allowing that to affect him, he made a vow not to subject his own family to the same situation. Now, he is a successful businessman, both here and in his homeland.
 Philani Sola, the owner of a successful catering training school in South Africa.
Philani Sola, the owner of a successful catering training school in South Africa.
“I know what it means to have nothing of your own,” he said. “As a boy, I took my situation to be an inspiration of how not to live life and it has helped.”

After an under-privileged beginning restricted his academic life to the Zimbabwe Junior Certificate, the Plumtree-born Sola migrated to South Africa in 1980, at 20-years-old. He was employed in various restaurants and hotels – first as a cleaner and then as a waiter, developing affection for a trade that would later shape his life.

“I learnt many things in the trade, which later became a part of my life. I really liked the food and service aspect of it and felt lonely when I did not go to work.”

Then misfortune struck.

“I got involved in a nasty car accident in 1999, which left me badly injured. As a result, I could not continue to work and that really hurt me. I had to find something to do.”
After his full recovery, he bought a vehicle and began a goods carrier – Malayisha, but that did not last. With no passion for the job, he wanted to return to his first love, the hospitality industry.

Inkeldon Catering

In 2005, Sola launched Inkeldon Catering, a company that trains waiters and barmen and hires them out for major events. The company currently has hundreds of employees.

“I am now a respected man in the industry here and the company is one of the most sought-after because of its professional service,” said Sola. “We have had clients in high places and provided service to some well-known guests, who I cannot disclose, but I am a happy man.”

He provided a simple recipe for success: hard work, following your dream and believing in yourself, however the odds are stacked.

With big plans for his homeland, the businessman has already bought a cocktail bar, and eating house in Kezi, Matabeleland South, where he is also building a shop.

“My businesses are all high quality, judging by Zimbabwean standards, but I cannot sit back and say I have done enough. I still have big plans for that community, which has been very supportive of me since my childhood. My other dream is to build a big shopping mall in Bulawayo, which will be the size of Nkulumane Complex.”

He also had a message for the youth. “My advice is that they should not set targets that are easily achievable, but those that are only achievable with the greatest effort. They should remember that the world only makes way for those who know where they are going.”

Source: thezimbabwean.co.uk

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Creating opportunities

Sk Abdus Samad of Bankura district has become a role model for those who are not afraid of hardships and dare to dream big
Sk Abdus Samad could not study beyond middle school because he could not afford it. Son of a poor school teacher at Rasulpur in Bankura district of West Bengal, Samad started managing a small grocery shop set up by his father to feed his family members.
While in business, he was advised to join Entrepreneurship Development Course for six weeks in 2002, organised by NABARD at Somsar, Bankura.
After the training, Samad realised that growth in Rasulpur and its surroundings offered a good demand for different varieties of paddy, potato and oil seeds. After market survey, he decided to start a unit to make jute bags. He later submitted a business plan of setting up a seed manufacturing farm and the bank sanctioned him a loan of Rs 10 lakh.
Now, 35-year-old Samad owns two seed farms - Kaveri Seeds and Kalyani Seed Farm - having an annual turnover of nearly Rs10 crore. More than 200 families are directly or indirectly benefited from his enterprise.
Addressing a national seminar on Skill Development organised by American India Foundation and National Skill Development Corporation in August, former President Dr AP J Abdul Kalam had referred to rags to riches story of Samad.
“This case highlights two unique aspects which be critical for development of all sections of society— first, we need to create job generators like Samad who could generate multiple employment opportunities for the deprived and second, entrepreneurship incubation institutions need to be developed all over India and developing world,” Dr Kalam had said at the seminar.
“I was never interested in taking up a job. I wanted to set something of my own,” says Samad who employs about 260 workers. He has plans to promote his business in neighbouring states like Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Orissa and also in the neighboring country Nepal.
He has also plans to set up B Ed college and Primary Teachers Training Institute to help rural people of Bankura. Moreover, locals also see him as someone who holds blood donation camps, marriages for poor girls in the locality besides several other social works.

Wealth from waste

They are the perfect yin and yang couple. He strategises, she executes. He manages international business; she looks after the home. His dream is to manage a global business; she is happy clicking away pictures of her children on her Nikon. He is a workaholic, she is perfect balance. He is calm, she is fun. He is not brand conscious, she loves her Chopards. He is reserved, she is popular in the social circles.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Growing with Dubai: Rags to riches story

In Dubai for the last 40 years, this entrepreneur thanks his dream city for giving him a home and a successful career

Kannaiyan Shankar outside his own restaurant — Radhe o Radhe — in Karama
  • Kannaiyan Shankar outside his own restaurant — Radhe o Radhe — in Karama.
Kannaiyan Shankar landed in Dubai from Chennai, India, on his mother's passport in 1971. He was only two years old and the UAE's formation was still a few months away. Forty years on, his story is one of rags to riches - a self-made man whose success story is set alongside Dubai's rise to global prominence.
Shankar's father, a lawyer in India, came to Dubai in 1971 in search of a better future. Without a licence to practise here, he ended up working for an Iranian businessman and later joined Mitsubishi as business manager.
Shankar has seen Dubai's rapid transformation, as they moved homes from their Arabic-style villa in Deira to Shaikh Rashid Colony in Satwa. He saw the World Trade Centre (WTC) building standing alone and saw prominent people holding marriage celebrations on the empty ground, which is now Zabeel Park.
"Everyone got invited to these parties. It was a really cool time - the dances, camels and tents, open-air festivities. Dates and food were offered to the public. I still miss those moments," he said. He also remembers jumping over huge rocks to get to the shore when crossing between Bur Dubai and Deira in a water taxi called ‘abra'. Today, as he rides the Metro, Shankar marvels at Dubai's unbelievable growth story.
After completing his secondary education at The Indian High School Dubai in 1988, Shankar began his career at the age of 18. He also attended evening classes to complete his diploma in Computer Science at the UK-affiliated Datamation Systems Institute for three years. In between, he fell in love with Berne, his Sri Lankan secretary at the trading company Nia, whom he married in 1995 after six years of convincing their parents, who were reluctant to bless the union due to differences in language, culture, country and creed.
Shankar ventured into socks manufacturing in India and formed an overseas office in Dubai in 1995. Within 18 months of opening this company, he went broke.
It was an expensive lesson, but one learnt well. In 1997, he diversified into the apparel and accessories business, forming Silver Pearls Packaging Services LLC. Success came as he roped in Disney, Barbie, and Levis brands in certain countries.

Today, he also caters to leading hypermarkets all over the Middle East from his office-cum-warehouse in Al Ghusais. He has also formed Earth Care Systems, a green homes company based in Bengaluru, India, in partnership with C.N. Srikrishna, his yoga guru.

In Dubai, he is at home in Karama and still hangs out there with this buddies. "Karama is a complete community."
In 2010, Shankar gave wings to his childhood dream of having his own restaurant, by opening Radhe o Radhe, a vegetarian outlet in Karama, with a business partner. The restaurant has two branches in Dubai, with a couple more in the pipeline. It's all about balance, says Shankar on his key to success. "My wife and two wonderful children have given me complete support in all my ventures.
"Dubai is a dream city for me. I'm lucky I've found what I love doing here and thank Dubai for being a part of my journey. Failures were just my stepping stones."
Car count
There were just 13 cars in Dubai in 1968. Now there is one car for every two residents.

Source: http://gulfnews.com