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Campus Vibe
How selling police, army toys by the roadside earn Embu varsity student decent income
By Joseph Muchiri | Updated Jun 13, 2019 at 11:39 EAT
Reagan Mutiso sells police, army toys to earn inco

Whereas such hawking is associated with poorly educated Kenyans and the jobless, the case here is bit different

Mutiso and his two colleagues are students at the University of Embu who have found a better way to utilize their free time

Reagan Mutiso exudes focus and confidence as he stands on the roadside near Embu law courts along the busy Embu-Meru Highway selling wooden toys.

The toys are painted in either navy blue or jungle green with a tough clothes material erected on the back and miniature benches on the basin to mimic a truck.

The cars resemble miniature Kenya Police or Kenya Army vehicles.

Whereas such hawking is associated with poorly educated Kenyans and the jobless, the case here is bit different.

Mutiso and his two colleagues are students at the University of Embu who have found a better way to utilize their free time; harnessing their entrepreneurial and marketing skills to earn a shilling.

Mutiso, who is pursuing a Bachelor of Education and will join second year in September, uses his earnings to pay his rent and part of school fees thus relieving parents the burden.

He is the team leader of the group and has been at it since he left high school in 2017.

“When KCSE results were out, those who did not qualify to join university quickly pursued various ways to earn a living. Instead of just sitting at home waiting to be admitted to university I joined them,” says the lad who hails from Kangundo in Machakos County.

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Mutiso would attend training in woodwork and carpentry and learn how to make the toys.

He would later move across towns and streets marketing the toys.

He started by constructing five units that he would sell along roads, but with time the business grew to the extent that in one day they could make 50 toys then spend several days selling them.

To expand their market, the young men shared their work such while some operated in Meru town others would be in Thika.

Using a design developed by the founder of the toys, Mutiso uses pieces of timber, a hardy cloth material, wires and tiny wheels to make the toys.

So how does he juggle between the hustle and his academic work?

Mutiso says for a bright student, campus coursework is not very tasking as they have a lot of free time every day.

“We work in shifts such that when I’m unavailable, my colleagues stand in for me. I also dedicate evenings to my studies to recover time spent at work,” he says.

During peak times mostly from Fridays to Mondays, Mutiso and his friends are a happy lot as they sell between 18 to 25 toys in a day. During off peak, they sell around 8-15 toys.

In a week, they make a profit of around Sh10,000 which they aver is quite an amount for a student.

“I hail from a humble background. Such kind of money does a lot in uplifting my status. Since I’m the first born, my parents are able to concentrate their resources on my siblings,” he says.

He sells the smaller toy at between Sh850 and Sh1,000 and the big ones at Sh1,800 to Sh2,500. Mutiso says some customers are willing to pay even more to support a hustle driven by the youth.

He makes most of the toys at a workshop in Kangaru market in Embu County and sources the big ones from Thika where he works closely with Quality Wooden Toys CEO Benson Kasanga.

“The toys last longer than the cheaper imported ones. Moreover, in case they break down they are easily repairable since we manufacture them using locally available materials,” says Mutiso.

The toy sellers have a savings plan where they contribute Sh1,200 weekly, which they plan to later invest in an asset or an income generating project.

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