Ephantus Mushunu is not your ordinary mason. The 30-year-old resident of Kirigiti in Kiambu County strides localities in the expansive Kiambu County and neighbouring Nairobi and Kajiado counties making building interlocking blocks that are fast gaining fame in the industry.
With over ten years’ experience in the building and construction field, Ephantus dabbled in several areas of construction work, including plumbing, painting, plastering and masonry before eventually narrowing in on interlocking blocks and block making. Through research, Ephantus identified interlocking soil blocks and block making as an attractive avenue into his already existing, informal construction business.
Amidst his maneuvers, Ephantus had a desire to further his technical skills and business acumen in masonry. When he heard about KCB Foundation, he quickly applied for a scholarship and was successful. Upon graduating in masonry from NITA in Nairobi in 2018, thanks to KCB Foundation’s 2jiajiri, Ephantus resolved to walk the journey towards establishing a business in the construction sector.
Through the KCB Foundation business development support Ephantus developed a sound business plan that saw him qualify for a loan from the Foundation. Meanwhile, he continued conducting further research on the interlocking block business, with his mind focused on purchasing a machine to support his work.
A fellow 2jiajiri construction beneficiary recommended to him a specific block making machine which has higher capacity to increase productivity and efficiency. Ephantus approached KCB Foundation with a business proposal to purchase the double straight interlocking soil press machine. With the help of a business development officer, his loan application of KShs 104,777 was approved.
Since then, he has been using the machine in his construction projects. He has also hired an additional four youth who split their work between making blocks, sourcing for soil and constructing on smaller projects around the neighborhood. Between his three employees, they are able to make up to 600 blocks. The production cost of a block is KShs 15, with each selling at KShs 25 shillings. In a bid to transfer skills, Ephantus has single handedly trained his workers and introduced them to advanced use of the block making and interlocking techniques. His job creation has also expanded to the community wherein the casual laborers who help them with construction works are each paid KShs 500 per day.
“I have secured very many construction contracts since acquiring this machine. My productivity and efficiency has greatly improved and I leave my clients happy, making them call me for more work and even referring me to others,” says Ephantus.
As an affirmation to foster his experience and perfect the use of the machine, Ephantus has built a two-bedroomed house for his mother at their Kirigiti home. He has also been making money from supplying the blocks to his fellow construction entrepreneurs as well as to projects referred to him. Ephantus hopes to go fully commercial with his business this year where he will formalise many of his business strategies.
Since being onboarded onto the program, Ephantus receivesbusiness development support from the Foundation. He is currently working on a big construction project in Kitengela as a supervisor.
“The knowledge I gained from the 2jiajiri programme has really advanced my theoretical and practical knowledge. Although for now I mostly use the machine for my projects, this is a sure way of investing my experience so that one day I can comfortably take a more commercial route into making livelihood from my own building and construction business,” says Ephantus.
Ephantus is up to date with his loan repayment and has just a few months left to clear. He is grateful for this start and admits that the Foundation investing in him has put him in pole position, especially with his contract employers who trust him and rely on him to take lead in big construction projects.