On many occasions, you will find a person living with disability on the streets begging for money from the passersby.
Sometimes the situation is so dire that even young disabled children are put on the streets by their guardians to beg for basic commodities from good Samaritans.
But Daniel Kipkoech, a 29-year-old man who was born physically challenged, is rising from rags to riches after starting with hawking fruits on the streets to a thriving transport sector investment.
Kipkoech was born in Longisa area, Bomet County but after school, he shifted to Narok town in his quest for greener pastures.
A first born in a family of five, he studied in Bomet County and later joined Kisii polytechnic to pursue a course in fashion and design.
However, due to lack of capital to purchase a sewing machine, he was unable to start his own business forcing him to look for an alternative venture that required little capital.
“I was so determined to start my own business and after shifting to Narok town, I started hawking fruits while on the wheelchair. I used to purchase the fruits like bananas, oranges, avocado and mangoes on wholesale and I would go round the town in my wheelchair looking for customers,” he recalls.
Kipkoech says the fruit business did not give much returns and he was forced to change course and engage in the business of supplying soft drinks to retail shops.
“By this time, I had modified my wheelchair to carry more luggage. After being in the business for a few years, I felt I did not get enough returns as I expected, making me quit to ‘mali mali’ business,” he said.
The ‘mali mali’ business attracted many customers who came to buy utensils, sanitary equipment among other items. On a good day, he says he got a profit of up to Sh2, 000 and on a bad day, he would get only Sh200.
“I was so strict to myself that I had to save Sh1, 000 every day. The rest I used to buy food and pay rent,” he adds.
Eventually, the money he saved was enough to purchase a three-wheeler Tuk Tuk that he currently uses as a taxi.
“On many occasions, I am hired by business people who move from one market to another to sell goods. I am happy because the business is giving me more returns than my previous ventures,” he tells KNA.
He adds, “When I bought the Tuk Tuk, my friends were happy and they brought me gifts without even asking for their help because they saw I did not beg for help from anyone.”
When asked about his marital status, Kipkoech was quick to say that he has to accumulate more money, establish a home before getting a wife because he wished his children to live a decent life.
“No woman will accept a lame man, like me, who does not have enough money. But I believe if I am financially stable, I can get a good woman to marry,” adds Kipkoech.
He calls on people with disability to use what God has given them to earn an income instead of spending time on the roadside begging.
“Being physically disabled does not mean that you are mentally disabled. Just start a small business and I believe God will bless it to grow and become a very big enterprise. Imagine if you are seated somewhere begging and people pass you without dropping a single coin in your basket. You will feel very bad and end up hating people,” he advises.
Dorcas Meitamei who owns a grocery shop in Narok town says she first met Kipkoech when he was hawking fruits because he used to frequent his shop to buy grains.
She confesses that Kipkoech is a hardworking man who does not seek sympathy from the residents but works with his own hands to earn a living.
“I am so happy to see my friend Kipkoech is now driving a ‘tuk tuk that he purchased with his own money. I believe that his business will continue expanding,” she says.
She called upon the society to embrace persons with disability and help them become independent as they also have different talents.
“Instead of always giving them fish, they should be shown how to fish and where necessary, help them start small businesses so that they can sustain themselves,” Dorcas counseled.
Mike Yiaile a businessman in Narok town says he knew Kipkoech when he was selling fruits on a wheelchair.
Yiaile describes Kipkoech as a self-motivated person who is faithful in his job as on many occasions, he gives him luggage to deliver in a certain market which he does on time.
By Ann Salaton and Simon Simpai