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I am no slay queen, it is strictly business

Consolata Wanjiru stands out in the streets of Nakuru Town because of the way she approaches her work of selling eggs and sausages with dignity and determination

Roy Lumbe @lumbe_roy

Consolata Wanjiru, 23, looks dashing in her long weave and white apron. She greets every client who steps into her ‘office’ with a smile and it is not hard to see why. One of the posters in her ‘office’ says: ‘I love my job’.

Her place of work is not the fancy well-furnished offices in Nakuru. It is on the busy Kenyatta Lane in Nakuru Town. Every morning, six days a week, customers line up at her mobile workplace to be served with eggs, sausages, smokies and samosas.

Wanjiru, known for her beauty and her work, has earned herself the tag ‘Nakuru trolley slay queen’, but she does not let this faze her.

She is always busy trying to satisfy the growing demand from the locals who appreciate her work and look beyond her beauty to see a woman who is toiling hard to earn her keep.

Snap of a finger

Many question her decision to hawk, saying she ought to have a ‘sponsor’ who can take care of all her needs with a snap of a finger. But Wanjiru is among the 70 per cent of Kenyans who are reaping from the informal sector – a growing demographic that has refused to sit and wait for the government to create jobs.

According to the 2018 Economic Survey by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), the sector accounted for the 747,000 new jobs created last year.

The Institute of Economic Affairs estimates that the informal sector accounts for about 34.3 per cent of Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP),  which is monetary measure of the market value of all final goods and services produced in a year.

However, like many people in the sector, Wanjiru faces more than her fair share of challenges.

“Many of my customers are men. When I set up my business they just flock to buy the products, some, however, have a hidden agenda. Sometimes they mock me to find a sponsor saying the business does not  befit my beauty. However, that does not deter my love for this work,” says Wanjiru. Despite graduating with a diploma in hairdressing and beauty therapy from Dykann College in Nakuru.

Wanjiru was unable to find a formal job in Nakuru, forcing her to join the informal economy with Sh12,000 savings. She used the money to make the mobile trolley and buy raw products.

Soon she understood what it took to make a living selling inexpensive goods.

“You need ot have a high turnover to make a profit, you have to sell the products, and if you cannot get a place where you can sell them, you will not make money,” she says.

Her day starts as early as 5 am where she boils eggs and fries sausages and smokies before heading to town.

Benson Ndung’u, who sells to Wanjiru the products at a wholesale price at a local depot in Nakuru, describes her as a disciplined and determined woman. “I am happy to see young women venture in  business,” says Ndung’u. 

Wanjiru says despite the low pay, she was happy with the opportunity the job presented saying that she is eyeing a to get a bigger market and assist her family. 

She makes an average of Sh1,000 daily and the sales can go up to Sh3,000 on a good day. An egg goes for Sh20 and sausages and smokies go for Sh30.

“Despite the low pay in my business I aspire to expand it to a bigger venture, I can make an average of Sh1,000 daily, but I do brisk business when it rains,” says Wanjiru. The main challenge is getting the work permits from the county government and the food handlers certificate from the public health department, adding that there are also constant threat of having their business shut down by city council askaris.

“The work permit from the county government and food handler certificate from the public health are expensive,” says Wanjiru.

In Nakuru, fines range from Sh1,000 to Sh2,000 for hawking, an amount that can double or triple if combined with charges for other offences such as, littering, making noise, or obstructing human traffic. 

Wanjiru called on other young women not to be choosy, saying with the current unemployment rate in the country, they need to be active in all sectors.

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