Mitumba is a Kenyan word that means used clothes, bags, shoes, and other second-hand items. The business has for several years attracted several young entrepreneurs, mainly because of its profitability and ease of starting up due to its low capital requirements. It’s a multibillion enterprise. Evidence? Just check the people dealing with mitumba on wholesale. Soft life.
Forget any misinformation out here. Mitumba clothes are a choice for both low income earners and middle class Kenyans, since they are budget-friendly. If you have all along desired to join the business, this page is for you, in efforts to provide as much information as possible so you can play your cards right.
In this article, we highlight several useful tips on how to start your mitumba business in Kenya. We have a section with the startup requirements, the available types of mitumba bales and where to get the best Grade 1 bales at the best prices in Gikomba – Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru and other major towns in Kenya.
Types of Mitumba Bales
Mitumba clothes, bags and shoes are purchased from charities in various European countries. After grading, the items are shipped to the port in Mombasa. These mitumba clothes are then classified into a few grades and packaged in bales according to the level of wear and tear.
These types of mitumba bales are a very important piece of information for a new business person. You need to understand the different grades also in order to ensure you get things right before making any investment decision.
The knowledge of the source for your mitumba bales also comes in handy. Why? Because it is the sorting process from the source of the mitumba that determines what you get inside the bale at Gikomba or any other wholesale point.
Nobody really has complete control on the quality of second hand items, but the sorting is the only activity that determines what finally lands in your shop. Getting a mitumba supplier with good reviews and trusted sources will therefore be an assignment you must work on.
1. Crème Mitumba Bales
Crème is a term used to refer to mitumba bales with brand new clothes that have never been worn. They are sold as mitumba because someone, after buying them for resale, somehow decided not to sell them.
Probably the clothes were deemed out of fashion before they could be opened for resale. Or maybe the business was closed down due to unprecedented circumstances. Still, some are new clothes dropped by overseas business persons at donation points, and later sold as second hand clothes to raise funds for a certain cause.
Crème Mitumba bales are therefore expensive as expected, sometimes costing as much as Ksh 50,000. Mitumba clothes, bags or shoes in this grade are 100% free from tear, cracks, fade, discoloration or other damages. In addition, they come in their original styles and colors – both fashionable and functional – and can be worn to look stylish and professional at any formal event.
2. Grade 1 (Grade A) Mitumba Bales
This is the most popular category of mitumba bales for business persons in Kenya, mainly because it’s a perfect blend of affordability and quality.
Grade One Mitumba clothes, bags or shoes were worn a few times, hence they are still in an almost new condition. The items in this lot are in almost perfect condition, and a little dry cleaning makes them appear new to your clients.
And this is where the source comes in handy. As earlier mentioned, it is the sorting process at the source that determines what you get to your shop. Certain overseas cities are known to have top rated Grade 1 mitumba bales vendors. Always check the reviews from buyers. Some mitumba bales wholesalers in Kenya will be generous enough to reveal their sources.
3. Grade 2 (Grade B) Mitumba Bales
Unlike Grade One, the Grade 2 mitumba bales contain clothes that have been worn several times by their previous owners. They are not as pleasant as those in Grade 1 or Creme bales, and are therefore cheaper.
Starters are advised to go for this class for open air markets since the bales are cheap. You don’t want to compete with experienced mitumba sellers selling clothes at Ksh 100 when you have just received a bale worth Ksh 50,000.
In each Grade 2 bale of mitumba, you will find three types of items. There are high-quality pieces that look almost new, called camera. Then there are slightly-used items that are not as appealing.
Then the third kind of items will have some defects. Maybe with some buttons missing or torn and need a little sewing. In mitumba terminology, they are referred to as fagia. Many sellers will use the term to also refer to left over stock.
Getting Started – Bales or Pieces?
As an entrant into the industry, you will find yourself with questions about the best way to get started. Is a bale more profitable than selecting pieces randomly?
Well, buying a few pieces has a number of advantages for starters. You get an opportunity to select exactly what your market is looking for. You negotiate the prices with your clients’ buying ability in mind.
Some dealers also allow the sharing of bales among two buyers. Still, what you get depends on who is doing the sharing. For instance, in a bale of dresses with 140 pieces, you will have about 60 camera pieces. Sharing them into two, each gets 30 camera dresses.
However, as you slowly advance in the mitumba trade, you realize that the benefits of obtaining your own bale are so many. In fact, with adequate information, one may decide to go for a bale from day one.
Below are the advantages of mitumba bales over single handpicked items:
1. Mitumba bales are more profitable than single pieces. Just like every other open business, buying in bulk attracts several benefits that translate to more profits.
2. With bales, you have access to the camera items. Every trader opening a bale has their eyes on the camera items. When you buy in single pieces, you either don’t get access to the camera goodies, or you get them at exaggerated prices.
3. Opening your own mitumba bales allows you to sell to both customers and resellers. Once you get a bale, you are at liberty to resell the items to small-scale vendors. For example, if you buy a Grade 1 bale with ladies’ tops, you can resell the camera pieces and keep the less attractive ones inside your shop.
4. You get a rich variety of items. You don’t have to camp at someone’s shop praying that that allow you take home the best from the bale. You can enjoy the freedom of sorting your own items and pricing them accordingly.
5. You are able to get quality, fashionable items
How to Find a Mitumba Supplier
Window shopping for mitumba bales is like panning for gold – it takes time and a lot of homework. It can make or break your business right from the beginning. Some bales wholesalers will be generous enough to help starters make the best choices, in order to retain them as faithful clients in the future.
The most popular mitumba wholesalers in Kenya are located in Nairobi (Gikomba, Muthurwa and Estleigh) and Kongowea in Mombasa County. They all have their sources from overseas countries, mainly Australia, Canada, China and Europe.
Below are some tips to help you in identifying a good mitumba bales dealer:
1. Look for a supplier you can trust. The dynamics of the business will sometimes require you to place orders remotely, and wait for your bales to be delivered via bus or courier services. This means you have to trust the dealer with your capital and with the right choice of bales suitable for you. In other words, TRUST is EVERYTHING in this trade.
2. Consult friends already in the business. You will greatly benefit from other people’s experience if you take time to ask a few questions before getting started. Seek counsel from diverse people in the business, including those with failed mitumba businesses.
3. Check Social Media Pages and Online Reviews. One of the best ways to find a trustworthy supplier is through social media. A few mitumba dealers have websites, where you can check for reviews from buyers. There is always a thing or two you will find out from these platforms. Avoid a store that operates in secrecy, without any Social Media page to interact with their clients.
4. Always buy from the store. As you get started, avoid the temptation of paying for your bales remotely. Insist on visiting the dealer’s store.
5. Join Mitumba Facebook Groups. There are Facebook groups that discuss emerging trends about the mitumba business on a daily basis. In these groups, you get an opportunity to learn from experienced traders as well as stay updated on the dealers to avoid.
Mitumba Bales Prices in Kenya
There are Mitumba items for almost everything. Clothes, toys, shoes, bags, shoes, all with different terminologies used to categorize them accordingly. Since different sellers have different ways of categorizing their bales, it’s always important to seek clarification before placing an order.
The table below shows the latest prices for mitumba bales in Gikomba – Nairobi as at August 2023:
|Mitumba Bales for Ladies
|Mitumba Type||Price (Ksh)||No. of Pieces||Origin|
|Ladies Open Sweaters||15,000||120||Canada|
|Ladies Fashion Sweaters||12,000||120||Canada|
|Ladies Rummage Sweaters||16,000||130||Canada|
|Ladies Crème Rubbers||18,000||15 Pairs||Canada|
|Ladies Boots||12,000||24 Pairs||Canada|
|Ladies Mixed Tops||11,000||250||Canada|
|Ladies Chiffon Tops||19,000||250||Canada|
|Ladies Cotton Tops||8,000||150||Canada|
|Cotton Official Blouses||16,000||200||Australia|
|Poly Silk Blouses||19,000||250||China|
|Plus Size Dresses||25,000||130||Canada|
|Short Fancy Dresses||16,000||130||Canada|
|Poly Silk Dresses||36,000||130||Canada|
|Three Quarter Pants||12,000||150||Canada|
|Water Fall T-shirts||14,000||200||Canada|
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