From A Sweets Hawker To A Poultry Farmer.

Winnie knows it is no fun to run in the streets of Nairobi, especially if behind you is a ruthless city council askari. She knows how demeaning it feels to be outrun or caught unawares by the same askari, have all goods confiscated, and worse, she knows the frustration of being manhandled and bundled into a county council van and the hopelessness of being locked in that van from outside using a huge padlock.

Meanwhile, two children are waiting at home hoping to have food on the table, clothes on their back, and money in their fees account. She knows this pain because she has been there. Not anymore. This is her story…

The Youth Leader

“I was a youth leader at ‘generation maker’. That meant I would get information directly from the area chief about the happenings in the community. So when The Youth Banner came to our community, I was informed and I attended an information meeting organized by them. I loved the idea and joined.” she told the rest of the participants.


Something in Winnie resonated with the ideas being shared. She explained that while in school, business studies fascinated her. Being born of a father who also loved business, she knew that what was being taught here was exactly what she needed. “The Youth Banner facilitators were talking about something in me and I had to bring it out.” she said. She remembers one statement made by a facilitator, “Ni poa kujijua” (it’s good to know yourself). This made her tell her facilitators about her hawking business.


I wanted to be a farmer. That is what I wanted to do.


In the streets of Nairobi, she hawked sweets. Besides the many aforementioned challenges of a hawker, she only managed to make four hundred shillings on a good day. Less expenses, and she was left in debt. This wasn’t working for her and she wasn’t fulfilled either. She wanted something that wasn’t going to ‘tie her down’. With the empowerment that came with the training, sharing her dreams with facilitators in and outside training sessions, she finally came up with an idea and promised her facilitator and friend Joan Magua: “From today on, I am not going to town for that business any more”. And she has never.

Life Changing Idea

Armed with five thousand shillings, invaluable entrepreneurship and life skills, and an understanding of who she was and what she wanted to do, she shared with her mom the idea of keeping poultry. Her mother was positive. Winnie did every possible research on poultry, and finally settled for the indigenous (kienyeji) chicken which proved to be affordable to keep, and required less attention compared to the non-indigenous ones.


She began with two chickens and a cock. As she grew the business, she washed other people’s clothes, houses, and utensils to take care of her expenses, and buy more poultry. And as the old adage goes, “When the student is ready, the teacher shows up”, Irene found people who were willing to hold her hand. From her mom who supported her a lot with the little she had to a veterinary doctor who would offer help on phone about her poultry, and even send her messages with technical expressions when offering interventions for her poultry problems.. Winnie, with the demeanor of a fulfilled lady says she managed to raise the number of her poultry from three (3), to sixty (60).


She has more than doubled her income as she now makes well over eight hundred shillings from eggs in a day, and her future seems even brighter.

“They Helped Me Know Who I Am”

Her advice to beneficiaries of The Youth Banner program, “Save! Don’t depend on loans to start up. Personally I have benefited more from my savings”


Winnie is indeed ‘better than before’

‘Business Now Flows In My Blood’ – The Story Of The ‘Ghetto Guy’

He calls Himself a ‘ghetto guy’. As we share a light moment, he informs me that even his parents wonder how he survives in the city of Nairobi, leave alone being in the slum. He has embraced the hard life of Kiambiu and understands what it is like to live in a slum. Of late, he is managing it better. Here he tells us how he does that…


Meet Denis Odhiambo. After completing his high school education, he found himself in Kiambiu operating a movie shop that wasn’t doing very well. “There is this day when my friend came and told me about a certain training in Kiambiu, and the following session I accompanied him. I have never regretted that move.” explains Denis with a broad smile. He attended the entrepreneurship trainings by The Youth Banner, and quickly became the life of the class, engaging facilitators with fascinating, and sometimes hard questions. He was hungry for knowledge.


Asked about what he had to say about the training, Denis, with a youthful pose and hands in his jeans’ pockets said, “Cool training. I walk and feel like business flows in my blood. I can now easily identify and take advantage of a business opportunity. And,..” he adds, “…now I manage my business better in terms of purchases. Sales have increased and I have added another computer.” he concludes.


Despite a myriad of challenges of funding and difficulties in getting loans, this young man appreciates the fact that he may not be where he wants to be, but he is definitely not where he was before the training.


As Denis pulls his seat after reflecting on his progress after the training, he shoots up again excitedly, “Hio Cert pia maze, besides the skills I acquired, inasaidia sana.” (that certificate guys, besides the skills I acquired is helping a lot). He offered an explanation, “The other day I was called for an interview at Orange Kenya at the customer call center, thanks to the skills I acquired on customer care and a certificate to show, I got a one month contract with Orange. I am currently working there.”


Success told by the successful has a way of sinking deep into the hearts of the listeners. And there was some reflective silence in the room.


I talked to Denis later on about his experience at the customer call center. “I have gotten so used to answering customers’ calls that I find myself answering my mum’s calls, ‘My name is Denis Odhiambo from Orange, how may I help you?’” He left me in stitches.


They say an idle mind is the devils workshop, Denis is busy and so his mind is no workshop of evil. He is busy building Kiambiu community, not breaking it

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