Sometime after 2010, Vitalis Ogola’s sister developed some pain in her tooth.
Ogola had just graduated with a Bachelor of Dental Surgery from the University of Nairobi, and was working with a private dentist in Nairobi.
But since the sister was in Kisumu, she approached Ogola to help locate a dentist in Kisumu who would attend to her.
After numerous calls and referrals, Ogola referred her to some hospital in Kisumu.
But when the sister went to the hospital, she was informed that dentistry services were only available in the afternoon.
“I discovered that this was the norm in many hospitals, and it was worrying how emergency cases would wait for this kind of schedule,” said Ogola.
He saw a gap, and thought he could fill it. Few years later, Ogola teamed up with a friend to set up a private dentist clinic in Kisumu, calling it Royal Dental Clinic.
And ten years later, the facility has set up two other branches in Homa Bay and Migori, and is fast changing the definition of dental care.
“For a long time, tooth extraction was the norm, but I felt this denied dentists an opportunity to carry out their dentistry work,” he said.
But how did it all begin?
Ogola, the eighth born in a family of eight children was born 34 years ago in Bondo.
He attended Bondo Primary School, and Maranda High School before joining the University of Nairobi where he graduated in 2010.
In 2011, he did his internship at Kenyatta National Hospital, before being posted to Bondo District Hospital in 2012.
He worked here till 2016.His initial ambition was to become a lawyer.
He lost his dad in 1997 when he was just a Standard Five pupil, and his mum followed in 2005.
During his internship, Ogola begun saving some little money he was earning.
His ambition was to become self-employed.
And when he got his first posting at Bondo Hospital, he went on to save, and used the savings to start his private practice.
And when he thought he was done with employment, he visited Kisumu to look for a good location to set up the clinic.
“We wanted something which would stand out,” he said.
This is how Ogola and his colleague set up Royal Dental Clinic, with the aim of filling the gap.
The colleague however later withdrew, and ventured into other businesses, leaving Ogola alone to run the clinic.
“When we set up, there was little awareness on dental care. People would look for dentists when they want their tooth extracted,” he said.
He added: “Today, people visit us for root canal, tooth filling, cleaning, whitening, and even aligning, and this is what is expected of a dentist. Extraction should be the last option in dental care.”
When Lake Region Bulletin met Ogola for an interview, he noted that ambition is to expand the facility, and make it a leading dental hospital, not only in Nyanza, but the East African Region.
With over 25 staffs, Ogola is able to run the three branches of the facility, as well as a dental department in one of the private hospitals in Kisumu.
Young and agile, Ogola says his entrepreneurship skills begun when he was young, helping his sister in a shop.
And learning from the job has since sharpened his skills, not only in the dentistry department, but also managing the entity.
According to Ogola, finance remains the biggest challenge, saying he has to make baby steps due to inadequate finances, forcing him to plough back the little he gets from the business for expansion.Ogola’s advise;
“Brush your teeth effectively and regularly, see a dentist every six months, and regular check-ups.”