Get into Business and buy from your own, Bishop Obonyo
By Harrison Maina
LOWELL, Mass. , FEBRUARY 13_ “During the time of the Barack Obama Sr. in the 60’s, all they did was to leave seeds in America. Now we need to do business.”
The visiting Kenyan cleric Bishop Jonah Obonyo gave the advice last Saturday during the opening and dedication ceremony of a business store in Lowell started by four Kenyan partners. They are venturing into three different businesses all under one roof.
The man of God advised Kenyan and Africans in general living in the US to shift more into business activities and also buy from their own people, whose businesses are providing quality products and services, if they want to realize the American dream.
The new store, located on 288 West 6th street, will provide a variety of services to the surrounding community. It includes Beauty Connections thrift and gift store, that will be dealing in retail sales and export of second hand clothes and shoes, operated by Kate Stanley and Jane Kanguchu, Beautiful You hair salon, operated by Joyce Kimondo and The Marion’s International (TMI), a cheap, prepaid international phone service operated by Sammy Maina.
Conveniently located, the new store has joined a growing presence of Kenyans and Africans on this busy street that pours into two other very busy streets, Aiken Avenue and Lake View Avenue both of which have several other African business entrepreneurs plying their trades.
The busy three street intersection also has an advantage of being located in a heavily populated neighborhood of Centraville, which has a sizable population of African residents living or owning property, prompting some to consider proposing to the city of Lowell to rename West 6th street, Biashara,Umoja or Uhuru Street (Swahili for Commercial , Together or Freedom Street).
Kate Stanley, a partner in the new Beauty Connections thrift and gift store on West 6th Street
Jane Kanguchu, a partner in the new Beauty Connections thrift and gift store on West 6th Street
It lies right across the street from the new Ajabu Ventures store in Lowell, and a stone throw away from the Saint Stephens church, the oldest Kenyan community church in the area, housed on one floor above Salima’s store, an African oriented food and clothes store operated by a Senegalese family.
During the dedication ceremony, Bishop Obonyo said that for a long time, America has not felt the power of Africans and now Africans are coming in with great ideas in business.
He caused a light moment when he said that the previous generation of Africans who came to America in the 60’s did not bother to put down roots in business, and all they did was plant seeds, one of which germinated and grew into the leader of this great nation.
He asked Africans to stop thinking of investing only in Africa for fear of the unknown but to venture out into business in the Diaspora since dominion and power over any territory is given when you own the land.
“Business is the only way to go to ensure you own a land. We are declaring the possession of this land,” said the outspoken teacher of the word of God.
The Bishop asked Africans in America to develop self confidence and to believe that they can start successful businesses, and succeed even when they are looked down by others.
Citing biblical evidence of successful black people, the bishop pulled a verse from the book of Songs of Solomon, 1: 6 -10 where a black lady declared that she is beautiful and can succeed in anything even when she was black.
“I am black and beautiful,” said Obonyo quoting the bible.
He said that time for Africa has come, having produced the first president of the Nation, adding though that the devil wanted to stop this progress by dispatching an African man to try and terrorize Americans.
Bishop Jonah Obonyo of cathederal of Praise Ministries in Nairobi Kenya.
He asked Africans to continue to pray for America so that the devil does not succeed in destroying this great country.
On business performance, the bishop, who pastors 3,000-member strong congregation at the Cathedral of praise Ministries church in Nairobi, Kenya, decried the typical and insidious tendency by many Africans to frustrate their own people who start new businesses just because they’re jealous of their success.
He asked the community to buy goods and services from any African who starts a business so that they can support them for the benefit of the image of everyone in the community.
“When you buy from your people, you are empowering your own,” declared the Bishop. He added that those who deliberately refuse to buy from their own people even when the people are offering quality services are doing a disservice to their own.
The Bishop said that Africans in America will only be respected if they start businesses and work with their own hands, as it is declared in the book of 1st Thessalonians 4:11-12.
“Business goes beyond you. It is like a well. It will give you power to employ the educated and the uneducated. It will lead you to places where others can’t go, make you prominent and mingle with the powerful,” said Obonyo.
He congratulated the new business owners for realizing their vision and for the wisdom and courage to go into business even as partners.
He encouraged them to keep focused on the future and not to allow themselves be discouraged by those who may not want to see them succeed.
“You are launching into a new territory. You don’t know who is going to buy. You will come across difficult situations and ask yourself nikii kirathii nambere. Nikii Kiraria kiria kingi? (Kikuyu for, “what is going on here. What is eating the other?”)
In Business, you have to sow before you start reaping. It is a risk, but in every labor, there is a profit,” Bisjhop Obonyo advised.
He told Africans in America not be too careful about doing things right that they end up doing nothing for fear to fail. He lamented that there are so many people around the world dying to come into America and do business, yet dozens of Africans in America are complaining of being in here but do not have a good life.
“You’ve got to know that this is a place of opportunities. Even in the bible, talents were taken away from those who were not making business and given to those who were investing.”
He thanked business owners for their contribution to society .He said that businessmen and women were the major supporters of his ministry.
Sammy Maina of The Marion's International, at his desk at the new store on west 6th street.
“Not that the other workers do not contribute, but a business person will come into church and give a massive donation to solve a big problem,” clarified the Bishop.
Speaking at the same occasion, Rev. Samuel Kimohu of Saint Stephen church cautioned against poor business practices by new business owners. He said that prospective business owners have to do a lot of research, then engage in a lot of marketing and convey a respectable business image.
“For a business to succeed, it takes a combination of many things, including a good public life and personal qualification. You cannot drink all night then come and open your business in the morning. You cannot talk nice and then sell junk,” said Kimohu.
He said that starting a business is easy, but keeping it alive is the mark of real progress.
He encouraged the new partners not to listen to people who will try to discourage them.
People are going to talk about you. They are going to say that there are many stores elsewhere so they don’t have to buy from you. Don’t be discouraged by the talk. Keep moving,” advised the pastor, as he welcomed the new business owners, now new neighbors to his church.
Other pastors present during the dedication of the new business included Rev. John Wachira and his wife, Joanne Wachira, of Christ is the Answer church, Rev. Dr. Karimi Mumbui of Ushindi church and Apostle Daniel Mumo.
They all called on more Kenyans and other Africans to venture out into business in order to make the community move ahead.
Speaking to Ajabu Africa.com, the owner of TMI, Sammy Maina, said that his company is offering international calling services with the most airtime and clarity. “Unlike the scratch cards, my calling services no fees at all hence giving a caller more airtime than any other plan out there”, said Maina.
Maina, who also is also the Kenyan who came up with the Obama Coin product, clarified that with his service, a $20 plan gives a caller three hours of smooth talk time.
“This international calling program is good for any country, though its popularity is more with East and West Africans. To purchase airtime, one needs to visit our store or buy over the phone”, said the enterprising Kenyan. “I accept all credit/debit cards. It is so convenient. Just call me on 774-578-0889 for more information” he added.
Maina also said that his business is looking for agents all over the US who would like to get into the business of selling International calling services. It’s a very simple. All you need is to have an internet access and preferably be a store owner”, said the entrepreneurs, urging interested people to contact him.
Kate Stanley, of the new Beauty Connections thrift and gift store, said she is hoping that anyone interested in purchasing second hand clothes and shoes to send to Africa for charity or for other reasons can contact them.
“We have very competitive prices. Come on down or call us at (978) 419- 4740.
AjabuAfrica.com wishes the new business partners and neighbors all the best of luck and hopes more Kenyans can flood the Centraville area with many more businesses. The area has many closed stores that are going for very low rental prices.
All they need to know is:
In a recession, that is when great businesses are born, but only by those who are strong in faith, have great visions, and can dare to be different.
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