As many businesses struggle with the economic impact of covid-19 pandemic, more people continue to experience job losses. According the World bank Economic Update released in November 2020, one in three Kenyan workers are employed by firms facing high risk of temporary or permanent closure and reduced revenues.
Despite such challenges, Stephen Mwambia, a Kibra-based electrical installer has found a silver lining in poultry keeping. He shares his story with our reporter Judy Ndunge.
What is your name and how did you start your business
“My name is Stephen Mwambia, a 24-year-old youth from Kibra in Nairobi. I started poultry keeping as a side-job after taking a course in agricultural management. Having completed my secondary education in 2016, I had to stay at home as I waited to join college .It was then that I started to do menial jobs to make ends meet.
Did you ever get to join college?Fortunately for me I was able to go to Miramar International college who were in partnership with KCB Tujiajiri project. I took a course in agricultural management there. That is with the help of one organization HAKI that helped youths to continue with their education in 2018. In the same year they are the ones who paid my fees to join St Charles Lwanga where a took a course in electrical installation 3 months after I had completed the first course.
From engineering to poultry. How did the transition happen?
With Sh1,800, I bought one chicken at the cost of Sh800 and a cock costing Sh1000. I then constructed a small shack for the two birds using some reusable woods since I couldn’t afford to buy proper material and it still worked.
But the engineering job could have paid better. No?
Before I got my electrician job, the money I got from selling my chickens is what sustained me and I would be a fool to leave it. Besides no body is certain of what tomorrow may hold.
How do you multitask between the electrical job and poultry business?
Since I still live with my family they take part in helping me take care of my poultry when am not around. I wake up in the morning before the time to go to my work starts. I feed my chickens and separate those that lay eggs. I make sure I leave the food for them so that whoever is at home can feed them. My family members are still the ones who collect the eggs when am at work.
How do you earn from the poultry business?
I keep both broilers and layers. So I sell the indigenous (kienyeji) eggs at Sh15 per egg for wholesale. For the broilers, I sell them after they are fully grown preferably during the festive seasons when the demand is high. Depending on the size, the chicken retail between Sh800 and Sh1,200.
How do you get your customers?
I mostly get them through referrals from friends and family. I also advertise myself to shops or kiosks selling eggs.
On average, how much money does he make in a month from the chicken business?
On average I make about Sh3000 to Sh4000 in a month from the sale of the eggs. This depends on the season as well.
What are some of the benefits you’ve gotten from it so far?
Apart from the earning I can say it has taught me how to be responsible. I am still young and yet to marry. In believe that the discipline I learn in taking care of my business is the same I will use to cover my family with. Again it’s my business and if I don’t take care of it, who will?
How long do you plan to continue with poultry keeping?
I don’t see anything wrong with sticking to it. I’ll continue to do so and hopefully my future generation will continue with it where I would have left.
So far how much can you estimate the income one can get yearly doing this kind of work?
About Sh40,000 to Sh50,000 from both the sale of eggs and chicken. In general, I would say that poultry business is profitable. Just properly establish your poultry business and the profit will come.
What are some of the challenges you faced during start up?
Apart from lack of adequate capital, the chicken would fall sick. I remember I once lost all my chickens to a disease outbreak and had to start from scratch. Another challenge is theft because it’s not guarantee when I come back from work ill find all of my chickens there. This has happened before. Also inadequate space remains a challenge as poultry keeping requires a spacious habitat for the chickens to live in but I managed with what I had.
Any final words to youth like yourself out there struggling to get work?
Stop daydreaming with white collar jobs. The currency has the same value with each work. Just start from where you are, with what you have and eventually your hard work and determination will pay off very soon.