Trushar Khetia, one of the BLAZE BYOB judges, struggling to pay his staff

His profile on the BLAZE website states that he’s “one of Kenya’s most outstanding young entrepreneurs,” and was born in Kitale, Kenya over 30 years ago. Of course the fact that he’s an outstanding entrepreneur is not in doubt. For he has several awards (if those can be used as a true measure of one’s entrepreneurial success) to prove it.

Trushar Khetia, the founder and CEO of Tria Group & Tria Transit Media (an outdoor branding and advertising firm) and Society Stores (retail supermarkets chain) has been named as a Forbes Africa 30 under 30 Entrepreneur – 2016; was an AABLA (All Africa Business Leaders Awards) – East Africa Finalist in 2016; was among Forbes – Africa’s 30 Most Young Promising Entrepreneurs -2015 & 2016; Business Daily – Top 40 Under 40 Men in Kenya- 2014/15; winner of the Fortis Bank Prize of £1000 (having emerged top in Accounting) and was recognized in the ‘Ed Excel High Achievers’ Award for emerging top in A-Level Economics in Kenya. That is all good and commendable.

(TOP: Trushar Khetia, one of the BLAZE BYOB judges, poses for a photo after being named among Business Daily’s ‘Top 40Under40Men’ in 2015. The caption on the photo reads: “The winning pose that made it to the front cover of Business Daily”. Photo: Trushar Khetia’s Facebook page). 

When Safaricom, through its youth focused sub-brand, BLAZE, launched a youth entrepreneurship TV show called BYOB (Be Your Own Boss) in January this year, Trushar Khetia was named as one of the three judges. The two other judges are radio host Caroline Mutoko and musician Kennedy Ombima (aka Rabbit).

Things have been looking up for Trushar, for it’s been up and up for him, but not for his staff. In June this year, staff at Tria Group noticed that they were not paid on time. For the first time, salaries were delayed with no explanation from management. This has persisted for the past 5 months, up to now.

Even though the accountant does his best to prepare the payroll in time, he can’t do much as it’s Trushar who authorises payment. The fact that they’re paid late means that the Tria employees have had to part with late payment fees when remitting rents, an issue which seems to have been lost on the management. The situation is so bad that even getting petty cash to deliver orders to clients is a problem. Today is November 9 and the staff are yet to get their October salaries, a situation that wasn’t there in the past.

And now, it seems late payment of salaries doesn’t just affect Tria staff alone but has spread to Society Stores employees as well.

Apparently, the salaries for both Tria Group and Society Stores are now being processed by a single entity, unlike in the past where the two were processed separately.

Staff of both companies are now complaining that Trushar seems to be more concerned about getting media interviews and building his personal brand and image – to the extent of even flying in international TV crews to interview him – while paying no attention to their well-being.

Again, there are rumours that Trushar plans to set up another Society Stores outlet in Mombasa, expanding the chain beyond Kitale and Thika. This has led staff to wonder whether he’s hoarding the available cash – and not paying them in time – to enable him use the funds for the planned expansion.

Now, Trushar – as one of the BYOB judges – mentors young people on how to be successful and responsible entrepreneurs. Doesn’t being a successful and responsible entrepreneur also mean paying staff on time?

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