Croatia’s Foreign Entrepreneurs: Sara Muriuki, from Nairobi to Zagreb

Total Croatia News

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August 17, 2019 – Continuing our look at the foreign entrepreneurs trying to succeed in Croatia as so many are emigrating, meet Sara Muriuki, who swapped Nairobi for Zagreb.

Living in Croatia, I don’t get to meet so many Africans, and every time I do, I invariably find myself laughing loudly at the infectious and positive outlooks by the African characters I meet. It takes me back to the times when I lived in Kenya, Rwanda and Somalia. Happy times and incredible memories for life. 

My latest encounter was a with a hilarious Kenyan lady called Sara from Nairobi, and we spent much of the afternoon laughing as we talked about life in Croatia and in the Westlands neighbourhood of Nairobi, where we had apparently been neighbours almost 20 years ago. There will be more from Sara on TCN shortly, but in the meantime, her she is, the latest foreign entrepreneur trying to make it in The Beautiful Croatia. 

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1. First and foremost, why Croatia and what is it you do?

My name is Sara Muriuki, I moved to Croatia three years ago (2016) so that my son Marko could have enough time to adjust and learn the language before starting school in September 2019. It would be really hard for him in the public school without a basic knowledge or understanding of the Croatian language.

I was born and raised in Nairobi,  Kenya (lovely country). I met my Croatian husband in Nairobi where he worked for the United Nations as the security manager for the Somalia office. 

Our son was born there and when he was 3 years old we decided it would be best if he grew up in Croatia. So mother and son moved while my husband stayed in Somalia, and later on in Afghanistan, where he is now working. 

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In 2016 I opened a company Ianson Trading d.o.o based in Samobor with the main aim of marketing Kenya as a tourist destination not just for Croatia but for the neighbouring countries as well. Normally we have a package for Safari to Kenya which starts in Zagreb to Nairobi via Doha for ten days. This package is regular each year from the 26th Dec to 4th Jan. Mainly because Croatians prefer to be with family in July and August at the Adriatic. Other packages are tailor-made to suit the needs of the clients.  Normally we have a few installments for the package so as to cater for the average Croatian on a tight budget.

The other product we have is furniture from Kenya all made from the amazing African Mahogany wood, very beautiful and long-lasting. 

2. Tell us about some of the differences of your expectations of running a business in Croatia and the reality.

The expectations are not the same as reality mainly because of the low wages/salaries.  This means that most people are limited in their abilities to spend on travels abroad especially out of Europe. For the furniture only a few Rich Croatians can really afford and also one needs to have a big house for the heavy furniture. 

3.  What (if any) bureaucratical issues have you encountered and how did you overcome them (i.e. any advice to the would-be entrepreneur?)

For me the biggest issue was MTU…minimum technical requirements which didn’t make sense for online shopping.

Advice for aspiring entrepreneurs would be to first thoroughly research the market and all the paper requirements as this can waste too much time.

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4.  How is your product or business perceived in the Croatian market?

Safari is highly interesting for many people and it’s very well received. Furniture is exciting and also very well appreciated but for a very small and specific niche.

5.  What were the opinions of your friends and community, were they supportive of your idea, or…?

My family and friends were very supportive of me and even went out of their way to ensure that it will be successful. 

6.  What are some of the greatest challenges you have faced in business in Croatia?

Bureaucracy is the biggest obstacle to doing business in Croatia. 

7. If you knew then, what you know now, would you have come?

Definitely, worth all the effort. 

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8.  What are 3 things you love about Croatia?

-The best thing about Croatia is the social pressure

-It is very small and so it’s good for life as the basic social amenities are not choking.

-The beautiful coastline.

– Baka service (I have an amazing mother-in-law who really helps out).

9.  What are 3 things you would like to see improved in the business climate in Croatia?

Reduction of the required paperwork from the government. 

Increment of quotas for foreign workers to avoid the shortages of employees.

Reduction of taxes.

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10.  How is it working with Croatians in terms of a business mentality?

Most Croatians are very open-minded and open to partnering with foreigners. 

11. Advice for foreign entrepreneurs thinking of coming to Croatia?

My advice is to first make good market research for your product, and be bold enough to make the move. Fortune favours the bold.

Website is 

Facebook : Ianson Furniture gallery 

                      Ianson African Safari

To learn more about the foreign entrepreneurs trying to make it in The Beautiful Croatia, check out the heroes we have covered already

Are you a foreign entrepreneur trying to make it work in Croatia and would like to promote your story? Contact us on [email protected]


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