Genius is the ability to see several things where the ordinary man sees just one. It is a blazing initiative strengthened with courage and love; and like light, it illuminates even the darkest tunnel. It is the ability to create something awesome from the simplest of things.
For Martin Ojwang, genius is taking the functionality of the good old bicycle far and beyond the ordinary; creating something absolutely unique and leaving a lasting smile on the faces of his Kenyan brethren.
Martin is the founder of Ojei Designs, a startup that specializes in fashioning exquisite pieces of furniture- chairs and tables, out of old and abandoned bicycle parts.
Yes, from bicycle parts.
He utilizes the several parts of the bicycle- from spokes and tires to rims and panels; welds them together to create the base of his fashionable furniture.
“We do the bar stools, the bar tables,” he tells CNN African StartUp. “We do chairs, the cafe chairs and cafe tables — those ones can go to the hotels.”
Martin’s journey has been one of consistent self-discovery; challenging but ultimately rewarding. Though a school drop-out, the young entrepreneur has secured a berth for himself in the class of Kenya’s fast growing entrepreneurs.
He started out by making furniture pieces for himself. According to him, “I wanted a unique coffee table and couldn’t find one so I decided to come up with a coffee table made of a bicycle design.”
He cut the materials and with the help of someone, he welded the pieces into a fancy coffee table. He was delighted by the beauty of his creation, but he didn’t see what business prospects it held until a friend of his requested one. That immediately sparked up the entrepreneurial fire and moved him into business.
Having discovered his passion, Martin quit his job as an accountant and in 2012, using the large balcony of his apartment building as a workshop; he began making custom furniture on order.
Martin’s exceptional designs have slowly but consistently pulled a huge customer base and have also created jobs for about 8 young people. He and his team now have to work round the clock to meet the ever increasing demands of his large customer base.
“When we started Ojey’s Designs I was alone and then I employed some two people for assisting,” says Ojwang. “Right now, we actually have four employees and we have four casual workers who come when the production is high.”
Looking into the future, the enterprising genius is optimistic that in a few years, Ojei designs will become a world class business.