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Edgar Otieno: Nairobi Man Who Quit Banking Career to Hawk Pencils in Nairobi Streets

Edgar Otieno is a former banker who quit her job at Barclays Bank, now known as ABSA, to hawk pencils in the street of Nairobi.

In an interview, he noted that he quit his job to engage in business as the compensation he received from the bank was inadequate.

While people might wonder why Otieno chose to be a hawker despite having a background in banking, he noted that he enjoys his job and he is proud of himself.

As such, he ensures that he dresses well, and he has even learnt different languages to attract customers from all manner of backgrounds.

“In sales, people buy you first before they buy what you’re selling. I have methane airport to land basic phrases of different languages spoken in Kenya

“Years on the streets have taught me that most Kenyans prefer to buy from their own or from someone who speaks their language,” he said.

Otieno was born into a polygamous household in Butula, Busia County, and was raised to appreciate proper attire and hard work.

After arriving in Nairobi, he came upon a company looking for sales agents for their pencil and cutlery products.

He was employed on commission and rapidly became a top performer, winning the title of “best agent” several times.

When the company failed in 2005, Otieno continued to sell pencils.

“I was so brilliant at it, I was named best agent several times. When the company went out of business in 2005, I opted to keep my position,” he explained.

Otieno valued the flexibility of his job and the freedom to create his own schedule, which allowed him to pursue other hobbies such as farming and study.

With his earnings, he was able to go to college and receive a diploma in social work.

“In 2012, I enrolled for a diploma in social work in hope of a better job, but nothing has come up yet,” he says, adding that he has politely declined a number of job offers. “I’ve not received an offer that would pay more than what I earn in a day,” he said.

However, some individuals still had illusions regarding Otieno’s position.

Some assumed he was an undercover cop or a government spy, while others wondered why he would dress so neatly for a profession that required chasing down clients.

Despite his past business experience, Otieno found fulfilment in his position, and he has declined employment offers because he had yet to get one that paid more than he was making in a day.