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Charles Githinji: How Ex-Tout Found Fortune In Hawking Eggs, Smokies

In Summary 

  • Githinji previously worked as a tout and got arrested and even served jail terms severally.
  • Due to frustrations, he decided to venture into selling boiled eggs and smokies along Thika Road.
  • Githinji has since saved enough to purchase a plot in Thika and urges unemployed youths to stop waiting for formal employment

The business of hawking eggs, sausages, samosas and smokies is one that is ever booming in many urban centres in Kenya. Over the years, this sector has seen more young Kenyans roll up their sleeves especially along strategic places such as bus stations.

The sector appears suitable because it requires a relatively minimal capital to start with and one is able to make high returns.

For Charles Githinji, this business was his soft landing place after an agonizing stint of being a tout along the Thika Superhighway.

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The 40 year old father of two, originally from Bahati in Nakuru arrived in Nairobi in 2007 in search of a job. A friend offered him accomodation as he started working as a tout for Kenya Mpya buses.

Githinji worked as a tout for over 7 years and found himself in squalor as he got arrested multiple times and couldn’t afford to pay fines. This meant that he had to serve jail terms. At one time, he was imprisoned in Ruiru for a grinding 4 months after he was arrested touting in Thika. In Kenya, touting (manamba) is illegal and can attract a fine of up to Ksh 50000.

Charles Githinji selling boiled eggs at Clayworks. [Photo|TV 47: https://tv47.co.ke/meet-charles-githinji-githurais-mtu-wa-mayai-smokie-on-the-verge-of-building-dream-house-in-thika/]

Tired of this miserable life, Githinji used his savings of Ksh 3000 and acquired a trolley, then began hawking eggs and smokies. However, his business hit headwinds and in 2016, he returned back to touting. In a few years, he made another U-turn as he found touting too confrontational and the job could force one to go overboard in a bid to woo passengers.

“In the matatu sector, you meet with different people and in the process you end up disrespecting each other through insults and even sometimes you find yourself in a confrontation with a passenger,” he told TV 47.

Smokies and Mayai Boil Business 

In 2018, perhaps having learnt from previous mistakes that collapsed his business, Githinji hit the streets, this time saving his money in a bank.

Using his experience, he has also realized that eggs are best boiled using a charcoal jiko or a kerosene stove as opposed to gas cylinders because the latter method does not offer adequate time for appropriate boiling.

Amid the hopelessness of the COVID-19 pandemic, Githinji’s life had taken an unprecedented turn as his sales took an upward trajectory. According to him, he realized that Clay works praying field that is next to Kenyatta University had a high number of Kenyans who undertook their supplications after the closure of churches.

During the pandemic, people used to flock here and so my business was booming. I used to pray every morning before starting my daily business,” he tells TV 47.

Now baptized ‘Githinji wã matumbi’ (Githinji the eggs guy) he was able to sell up to five packets of smokies in a single day. This meant that he had a guaranteed daily profit of over Ksh 1500 daily.

Keen on setting aside part of his windfall for the unforeseen future, Githinji saved in a local bank and has recently bought himself a plot in Thika.

The inspirational hawker is now on the verge of building a dream house and advises unemployed youths not to wait for formal employment.