Selling children’s literature to inculcate a reading culture

Paul Wanyoike, 38
I started life as a sales agent hawking an assortment of goods.

It was really hard because the commission I got was peanuts.

Owing to lack of alternatives to venture into on my own, or a job opening, I had to stay put and save the little that came my way.

I eventually threw in the towel and invested the little that I had in, well, hawking - this time of children books. But I was now my own boss.

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It's now six years and, just like when I was a sales agent, there are also challenges to this line of work. Whereas selling an assortment of household and electronic goods would see the stock moving, it is a different scenario with children literature.

To begin with, some books becomes outdated with time, such as due to the recent curriculum review by the Education ministry.

Most books in my stock are from self-published writers and poor editing leaves grammatical errors which can mislead young readers.

It also takes more effort to convince parents to buy books for their children when they believe that the schools or Government should provide learning materials under the free education programme. This mindset makes it hard to foster a reading culture in the country.

However, I do manage to make sales with my day beginning from villages and ending in the streets of Nakuru town.

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Daily income depends on how the stock moves and a bad day can see me walk home with as low as Sh200 and a good one with as much as Sh1,000.

I do augment this by selling wallets as well. 

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