Esmeralda De Souza-Obwaka has been running her catering business since she was 19 years old. She started it as a way to earn a living in order to support her son, who she got at that young age.
Over the last 15 years, her business – Spez Catering – grew from just baking cakes to making food and snacks for events and catering for corporates such as Safaricom. Spez Catering was running two cafeterias at Safaricom’s headquarters on Waiyaki Way.
She had gotten mentors along the way, Ken and Kui Njoroge as well as Dr Patricia Murugami, who had come in, looked at her business and helped her see what she was doing right and correct what she was doing wrong.
And then the pandemic reached Kenya.
With many companies working from home, her services were essentially not required.
“In April and May, we had zero revenues,” she says.
She had to let her 60 employees go. Knowing that she was sending them into an industry that had shut down was even more painful.
“It was a very painful process, trying to adjust to our new reality. I didn’t realise I was grieving until I attended a session on grief, because I was an extremely angry person at the time,” she says.
It took her a whole month to adjust and try to figure out what to do.
Watch her story.