Why small scale businesses are on the rise in Kitengela

By Andrew Walyaula

Kenya has always been a hub for migrants, mostly, from East Africa nations. In 2021, the country recorded more than 1.1 million foreigners, according to data from the Immigration department.

The key reasons as to why people flock into the countries are lack of economic opportunities in their homeland, expectations of finding better livelihood, political tension, conflicts and natural disasters like drought and floods.

The immigrants have dominated the business industry with different ventures.

In Kajiado County, an expansive area adjacent to the capital city of Kenya, there are settlers from various nations, who are searching for silver lining by involving themselves in thriving micro-businesses.

Selling Coffee

In the evening, starting from 3pm, Allan Kiplimo, Tanzanian Citizen who entered Kenya in search of a better livelihood takes along his coffee kettle and a bucket full of mandazi to sell around Kajiado town, a business which runs until midnight.

Kiplimo reveals that he settled at Kajiado when he came with fellow herders, but found it better to start the business.

“My homeland is Tanzania. I am a Maasai married to one wife. We came around with cattle but I realized I could venture in the place because of the opportunities available,” he says.

He says that he has more than 200 cows in Tanzania but he decided to switch the focus on the business first.

“The way the world is evolving, we need to work extra hard. The lands we depended on are being partitioned, who knows in the next 10 years there will be no land to graze,” he observes.

Kiplimo narrates that he started the business with Sh15,000.

“I bought the kettle at Sh3,000, baking flour, sugar and other ingredients, which make mandazi and coffee costed me the rest of the money because I bought them in bulk,” he reveals.

In a day he is able to make an average of Sh800 profit with a good day earning more than Sh1,500. A cup of coffee goes at Sh10 same to mandazi.  

They have merry-go-rounds which enables them save the money.  

“We as Maasai community have merry-go-rounds, which are vital in savings and charity purposes. Through my savings from the hustle that is underestimated with a lot of people, I have been able to purchase two motorbikes and I still have more projects underway,” he says.

However, Covid-19 pandemic has adversely affected the business as some of his clients went away.

“It is tough, but I have to wake up hoping to sell my coffee to as many people as possible. The business has started to receive competition as a number of people are opting for it. The good thing is that during the day I am engaged elsewhere,” Kiplimo says.

Hawking honey, belts, phone accessories, and shoes among other commodities

Derrick Mielo, a Congolese is always busy in the streets of Kitengela, Isinya, and Kajiado hawking phone accessories, belts and shoes. He says that since he entered Kenya, life has been smooth because of making more cash.

“I came abroad to look for greener pasture so as to feed my family back in Congo,” he says.

He reveals that he came in the country to pay a visit to his friend, after sojourning, he identified the opportunity that has made him improve his way of living.

“In a day I go home with Sh2,000 and a good day I get Sh5,000,” he says.  

This has enabled him buy acres of land back home.

Apart from Mielo, Oloitip and Saitoti are also hawkers from Tanzania. They sell shoes, girdles, honey, and herbal medicines.

“There is a lot of money in the business. I have saved Sh60,000 in almost two months,” Saitoti says.

Barber Shop

It has been identified that many Kenyans prefer Rwandan barbers because of their excellent works. This has seen them dominate the market with more and more opening saloons.

In Kitengela, Paul Kusaga from Rwanda has a barbershop that has attracted a lot of people.

“I came in Kenya to look for job. We used to believe that Nairobi is the London of Africa,” Kausaga says.  

He failed to get a formal job and ended up being a herder in Western Kenya.

“From looking after cattle, I decided to move to Nairobi, where I sold tomatoes. I saved and decided to move to Kitengela, where life is quite cheaper to set up a salon business which has enabled me to grow,” Kusaga says.

According to statistics, in East Africa, Kenya is the leading with unemployment rates.

Importantly, the East African Community allowed free migration within the nations without Visa, something that has seen Kenya receive immigrants from various nations that have staked on micro-businesses.  

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