Chicken has always been a popular delicacy in Kenya. But with changing times and fortunes, many people are forced to buy ready chicken from supermarkets and hotels rather than slaughter the bird at home.
It is in this shift that Lazarus Thuku, 32, saw an entrepreneurial opportunity. Like many other entrepreneurs, Lazurus is a Jack of all trades. He’s tried all sorts of business ventures; from Jua Kali workmanship to construction, farming, hawking, event decoration and event catering. And then he stumbled upon chicken preparation.
The father of four was introduced to the business by a friend back in 2013. Lazarus developed an interest and became an apprentice under his friend’s tutelage. In two weeks, he’d mastered the art of slaughtering a chicken in under three minutes.
In the beginning, he worked for a friend who had supply networks with local hotels and supermarkets. But like any good entrepreneur, Lazarus soon cultivated his own network of clients.
With time, he made a name for himself, and got contracts with prestigious hotels, major supermarkets and poultry farmers within Meru and Nairobi.
Depending on the requirements of his clients, Lazarus either slaughters the chicken at their premises or at his suppliers’ poultry farms.
Five years on and his impressive portfolio of steady clients earns him an average of Sh15,000 a week.
But it’s not been easy going. The biggest challenge Lazarus faces, he says, is getting the temperature of water used to pluck the chickens right.
“If you dip a chicken in water that’s too hot, the meat breaks apart and the client rejects it.”
Further, some clients reject chicken that don’t meet a certain weight threshold.
“A client like a supermarket may reject birds that have not met their weight standards, and if you don’t find another client or lack refrigerated storage, you can face a heavy loss.”
Lazarus, who dropped out of school in Form Three after being lured away by entrepreneurship, says he would not advice young people to give up education for the promise of quick money from business.
“I dropped out of school because I had known the sweetness of money at a very young age. I had run away from school for a few hours to a Jua Kali stall where I’d make six sufurias and sell them at Sh3,000. I came to perceive schooling as pointless,” he says.
He, however, rues this decision because he says there are opportunities that remain out of reach for him due to his lack of secondary school certificate.
Lazarus adds that he doesn’t get to celebrate holidays.
“You’ll never find me taking time to celebrate when other people are because that’s when I am in most demand. However, I make up for this during slow months like June, which also happens to be my birth month.”
Lazarus plans to rear his own chicken soon to boost earnings.