Salesio Njiru cuts a confident figure as he stands at the back of his gleaming Mercedes Benz to sell eggs from the boot of the car. It is around 6 pm and the car is parked on a busy street near the Embu-Nairobi bus park for maximum exposure to customers. For Sh10 per egg, while shops and supermarkets sell an egg at Sh12, customers stream in to buy the commodity. In two different streets in the same town, and also in the neighbouring towns, Njiru has employed agents to sell eggs for him on a commission basis. Njiru counts his unique marketing model that has created jobs for scores of youth as one of the successes and fulfilments for pursuing self-employment. In 2005 when he was 47 years, the former agricultural extension officer with the Ministry of Agriculture quit his job to delve into agribusiness.
"I was earning too little to sustain my family. I sought early retirement and put a lot of hard work in my businesses, I have no regrets for my decision," he says.
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Njiru who hails from Kibugu Village of Embu County is considered an authority in coffee farming and livestock keeping. He has found his best footing in poultry keeping where he rears chicken for egg production and meat. When he realised that the prices of eggs kept fluctuating and would at times occasion losses to a farmer, Njiru decided to embrace marketing into his hands. He set up an eggs shop in Embu town, but still realised that was not enough and he had to move to the streets to meet customers there.
"Once in the streets, the demand for eggs was so high that I could not sustain it. I approached other farmers who were facing difficulty selling their eggs. We resolved on an arrangement where I source eggs from them and sell at a profit. We both benefit," he says.
Njiru sells an average of 500 trays of eggs every week. A good number is from his farm while the rest he sources from poultry farmers.
"A young woman from Kianjokoma sells to me 100 trays every week. I get a similar number from a farmer in Kamiu and some 50 trays from another farmer in the Blue Valley area," he says.
While glad that he links poultry farmers with the market lessening their hustle along the value chain, the fact that he has created jobs and given hopes to youth gives him a lot of satisfaction. Two of his employees are students pursuing masters degrees at the University of Embu. They find he has already stocked eggs in cars and theirs is just to sell.
"I'm moved by their humbleness. They stand by the roadside and call out to customers to buy eggs at Sh10. They are so unassuming that you can't tell that they are university graduates. With that attitude and focus, they can go far irrespective of their humble beginnings," he says.
On the other hand, Njiru has engaged two agents at Muchonoke area, one in Muthigi area and another in Kithure area of the neighbouring Kirinyaga County. He gives them eggs on credit and they turn in their sales after deducting their profits. The agents who have their marketing infrastructure make a profit of between Sh30 and Sh40 per tray of eggs. The youth that work directly under him earn Sh300 per session of three hours.
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Dishonest youth pose a challenge and he recalls incidences where some disappeared with his money. Njiru thus vets a person before giving them a job. Moreover, he prefers youth that have been recommended by a trusted person. Basing on the success of his marketing model, Njiru counters the narrative that there are no jobs.
"There are no white-collar jobs, but if you look around, there are many other job opportunities. It is only that the youth are choosy and idle away in the pretext that they have no work. If they are ready to soil their hands, they will always find something rewarding to do," he says.
Apart from selling eggs, Njiru runs Mercurial Car Hire Services which has a fleet of cars. He charges Sh3, 000 for a five-seater car and Sh5, 000 for a seven-seater vehicle hired out for 24 hours.
"This is a very good business," he offers.