If you have never been to Meru town, then get time to visit the beautiful ‘city’. Located within the slopes of Mount Kenya in the eastern parts of Kenya, Meru town is one of the towns that are experiencing a tremendous growth not only on infrastructure but also businesswise.
Recently I took a walk along the streets of this town and what grabbed my eyes were the tall business buildings, huge crowd of people walking up and down as each person sought where to buy. But what triggered me was this hawker who has innovated a special way of attracting his customers.
Well known to his customers as ‘Mtu wa Dawa ya Mende’, Leonard Muriuki equipped with an old motorbike and a self-innovated a horn speaker as his public address system, sets his eyes on us and with a smile he persuades us to buy his products which are mainly pesticides.
Muriuki says he started his hawking business and the challenges of the job made him to be innovative especially in advertising his products to his customers who are mostly pedestrians.
Muriuki a father of three, was born and brought up in Laikipia County but migrated to Meru County where he decided to venture into selling of pesticides, a job he has done for the last 20 years.
Through the business, he has managed to take care of his family since the first born is already in college and the other two are in high school.
Asked the major pesticides he deals in and his area of operation, Muriuki who is 45 years says he sells pesticides for killing cockroaches, bedbugs and troublesome rodents such as rats within Meru, Isiolo and Tharaka Nithi.
“After completing my form four studies I looked for a job just as any other person from school would do but could not find any,” he continues, ” after tarmacking for two years I decided to venture into pesticides business.”
He reveals that he started his investment with a capital of Sh.100 only, where he bought an assortment of pesticides for sale.
He recalls his first day trading at Gakoromone Open Air Market within Meru Town where he made Sh.500 of the sales which made him to increase his stock. On a good day Muriuki makes an average of Sh.1000 he states.
Ridicule from members of the public is one of his major challenges in the hawking business which he also says has not been fully respected as a contributor to the country’s economy.
He wanted to be a media personality, a passion that he always had ever since he completed high school.
“The dream to become a journalist was shattered because my parents could not raise college fee,” he regrets.
He appeals to the youth that ‘job is job’ and no one should be selective as long as it brings food on the table.
He also advises the youth not to be eager to get into quick riches but take their time to grow in business.
As we completed our interview, Muriuki with a smile on his face appealed to any well-wisher or an organization to assist him see his dream of becoming a journalist despite his age.
Says the horn speaker is economical and it doesn’t require a lot of power to operate unlike modern public address systems. His gadget uses two dry batteries that can last him a whole week. He also says it is environment friendly since it doesn’t cause sound pollution.
By Davis Michubu/Richard Muhambe