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Retrenchment was a blessing in disguise

By Amimo Zacchaeus | February 22nd 2017
Elias Otieno ferries his clients. [photo: Amimo Zacchaues/standard]

After finding himself among employees who had just been laid off, Elias Otieno hopped onto the next bus out of Nairobi destined for his home town of Oyugis.

For the seven years he’d lived in the capital city, Elias had been working as a casual labourer in a supermarket godown. He was to lose this opportunity after the firm elected to dismiss ‘incompetent’ employees.

Back home, the thought of tilling his land to cater for his family was not entirely appealing and he opted to lease a motorcycle and start operating a boda boda business.

“I knew I needed to supplement the meagre income coming from the farm. From the boda boda, I was able to go home with Sh500 each day — after giving my employer his cut. However, with three children in school, I knew I needed to do more than I was doing,” he said.

Elias started to save Sh250 each day working towards acquiring his own motorbike. He saved consistently ensuring that any additional income that came in was also put towards realising this objective.

When his dream finally came true, the father of four opened a bank account where he would wire his earning every week as a preserve for his children’s education, especially his first born daughter who was then in class four. That was a decade ago — the girl is now a first year student at Kisii University courtesy of the boda boda earnings.

“Business is booming and being my own boss means I carry home all the day’s earnings. These can range from between Sh400 to Sh2,000. I still save consistently for my children’s education since I want to ensure they all go through school without any hitches,” he said.

For Elias, being retrenched was the best thing that happened to him because it caused him to think outside the box. He challenges those who still sit around waiting for good paying jobs to take their future into their own hands and do something to help themselves right now.

The entrepreneur and his wife, who runs a green grocer kiosk, now have plans to purchase a tuk tuk. They hope this will help shore up their financial muscle.

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