For many people, being diagnosed with a disease that affects their work means that they have to quit working and rely on their families but for Paul Njihia Chuthu, his story is different and inspiring.
Paul a former car wash attendant got sick in 2020 and when he went to the hospital for the first time doctors could not ascertain what he was ailing from. He got painkillers and after a week of having some rest at home, he went back to his usual car washing job.
In 2021, Paul felt unwell again and decided to seek comprehensive medical attention and that is when he realized that he had severe pneumonia caused by the water used in washing cars over a long period of time.
“The doctor said I should quit interacting with cold water or if I loved my job so much, I should consider washing cars with hot water,” says Paul jokingly.
Having been a part-time farmer alongside washing cars, Paul realized that his health was paramount and he decided to venture into something he was passionate about and he had a bit of experience with extracting seeds from various plants and trees, drying them and eventually selling them.
He hails from Subukia Sub County in Nakuru County and he says the weather there favours his farming and seeds collection venture.
Many people in Subukia are farmers and therefore he says it is easier for him to source various seeds he might need but does not have.
“I sell cypress seeds, hayseeds, nightshade seeds (managu), kay apple seeds and any other seeds that people may need. I usually get fruit or a mature plant and extract seeds from them. I then dry them before selling,” says Paul.
The good thing about this job, he adds is, it is less competitive and rewards so well.
He claims he looked at the market gap before venturing into it adding that some people visit an agro vet shop to buy seeds for particular plants but the shops do not sell in small quantities. He has decided to fill that gap.
“Many people lack the patience of extracting seeds from the plant, dry them and take them to the market. Many people prefer to buy seedlings but I am different. When you visit an agro vet shop, you cannot get a spoonful of tomato or managu seeds but I can sell them to you in whatever amount based on your need,” Paul says.
He says he sell the seeds cheaply to people so that they can as well go plant them and conserve the environment.
He sells one spoon of cypress tree seeds at Sh30 and adds his customers an extra half a spoon for every five spoons they buy to encourage them.
For managu and tomato seeds, he sells a spoonful at Sh20 whereas for other seeds including hay seeds he sells at Sh50 per spoon.
Paul says that he does not have a specific selling point as his job is dependent on the traffic flow of people noting that on many occasions, he sells his seeds along the market streets where a lot of people are moving in and out of the market.
He says he plans to establish a permanent stand in Nyahururu town as a lot of people there have shown interest in his seeds with the demand rising gradually.
He adds that he also wants to brand his seeds in future and also label them as at the moment many people mistake him for an herbalist.
Paul challenged young people not to sit and wait for opportunities or wait for the government to give them jobs but to go out there, identify a gap in the market and come up with a product or service that will solve that problem.
By Antony Mwangi