Choigoda: Entrepreneurial Spirit Leads to Kenya

Beatrice Agono moved to the U.S. from Kenya in 2006 as a Permanent Resident. Her background was in accounting. One of her first jobs was bookkeeping and then she did some consulting. She realized the potential to own a business and in 2013, Beatrice opened a business with Ronald Shitambasy as a partner. She lives in the city of Pittsburgh. Her being in the U.S. put her in a great location to fill the need of her country men and women back home who needed many things from the U.S. but they did not know how to get them, buy them, ship them and receive them in Kenya. She started to focus and trade American-made shoes to Kenya.

Challenges or Obstacles Faced
She had to identify the business nature, the suppliers, the business registration and the financial side of getting paid. She went and opened a bank account and learned the value of a business credit card. She applied for a loan and was denied so she is working to arrange a line of credit from a supplier.

Assistance by the Center
She approached the Duquesne University SBDC Global Business Program for assistance in learning the fundamentals of exports. She took many classes and spent time with the consulting staff. She learned about the SBDC through a friend. Once she learned the process of exports, she started to contact the suppliers and getting prices. Then she needed to have U.S. certifications in order to export. It took over 6 months from the start of the business to be ready to ship. Finally she got all the U.S. Health and Safety Certifications and started to export.

The SBDC consulting made a difference because the nature of an Immigrant consultant advising an Immigrant client. It took special type of consulting, more focused on the day to day transactions and even phone calls to suppliers.

Impact and Results
As a result, the client’s business has grown over 100% from when she started. Her annual sales growth has reached $80,000 per year and expects to grow more. During this time, she has hired a person to help her out. She invested over $25,000 from her own money to make her business a reality.

Beatrice Agono discovered that in the U.S. anything is possible. She is now successful and is also helping her own community back in Kenya. Her next project is to partner with major shoe manufacturers to set up a distribution center in Kenya and Eastern Africa.