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Leap of faith pays off

Trushar Khetia’s  life was mapped out even before he was born. True to his character, he decided to do things differently  by leaving the family’s business empire and starting his own

At 28 years old, Trushar Khetia is proving that you do not have to follow a predetermined path to succeed in life. Trushar comes from a well-known family in Kitale that specialises in distributing foodstuffs and clothing.

Khetia Drapers is run by his father, Dimesh Khetia and his uncles who automatically absorb their children in the business for continuity. Trushar’s hunger for dominance in the business world started when he was young. He recalls his first trial at business when he was nine years. He would sell some of his father’s supermarket products to children in his primary school.

“My upbringing was within the fast-moving consumer goods industry and the whole excitement of being in a supermarket while engaging customers stirred the will to start something of my own. It was fun for me and I was passionate about it,” said Trushar.

Being the first-born in his family, it was expected of him to work in his family business, but after a while he felt the need to further his studies abroad. So, at 17, he left for Manchester Business School where he pursued Management, specialising in Marketing.

“When I came back to Kitale in June 2011, I thought I would fulfil my entrepreneurial ambitions within the family business. However, one year down the line, I realised this was not to be as my growth and potential was being limited by certain members of the family and I was not prepared to compromise about where I wanted to go in life.

So, I made the decision to leave the family business,” explained Trushar. Khetia’s decision did not go down well with his family, especially his father, but with time they all accepted it. His father now acts as his business advisor.

Today, Trushar is the owner of Society Stores, a retail business chain with four branches in Meru, Naivasha, Limuru and Kayole, all opened within six months. It all started with the acquisition of Leens Supermarket in Thika, a family business that sought to exit the retail business.

For him to start Society Stores, he was required to pay a deposit of more than Sh20 million to the initial owners. The retail outlet is raking in more than Sh608 million ($6 million) in annual revenues and Khetia says he is set to open two other stores before the end of this year. His professional background has also contributed to the fulfillment of his entrepreneurial ambitions.

He worked as marketing manager at Securex and also at Procter and Gamble (P&G) in the United Kingdom as business development manager for three years. Before opening the stores he started Tria Group, which mainly deals with advertising on transit media such as buses and planes.

The group is now three years old and has attracted big names such as Unilever and Kenafric Industries. The company derives its name from the first two letters of his name and the last two. His sister, Kruper Khetia, is the Finance Director of the two firms, which have a combined revenue of more than Sh709 million.

Khetia’s advice to start-ups is that a successful business is hinged on intensive research before starting off and getting the right team with the same vision as the proprietor. Khetia’s eyes are now focused on introducing an online or mobile retail business with an aim of making everyday life simpler for buyers.

His success has not come without a fair share of sacrifices. Though he believes in marriage and family life, his eyes are now focused on his businesses. “I have had to give up on my social life and some leisure activities, which means I do not spend as much time as I would love to with my family, but it does not mean it will stay like this forever.

I need a minimum of three to five years for my business to reach the settlement stage, then I will have more time to search for a wife,” Trushar muses.

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