In the busy streets of Thika town, you will find John Muthoka busy hawking. He sometimes hawks inside passenger buses, or bus stations, or streets. He grew up in Murang’a County and is a father of two. Since his childhood, he is known to be a joke cracker, a character trait that has helped him in his hawking business. He says that most of his customers buy goods from him out of the jokes he makes, while hawking.
How John Mutoka Started His Hawking Business
Being a father of two, it was difficult for him to get his family a decent life. Before moving to Thika town to begin his hawking business, he was growing vegetables like kales and tomatoes in his rural home in Kangema, a venture that helped him save enough to start his stall and hawking business.
To make both ends meet, he moved to Thika in 2012 where he opened a small stall near Thika main stage. The stall is still in operation to date and is operated by his wife. By then, the stall was not making enough sales to meet his financial needs. He decided to start hawking some of the stock in the stall. He would fetch stock from the stall and hawk it around the town to boost sales. That was the best decision he ever made for his business. He would make more by hawking than what the stall was making.
His wife is busy in the stall where she sells stuff like tissues papers, bottled water, biscuits, soda, pegs, utensils, torch, batteries, socks, buckets and toys. The startup capital for the business was Ksh 65,000. The following is his business startup capital breakdown:
- Stock – Ksh 30,000
- Rent and deposit – Ksh 30,000
- Business licenses – Ksh 5,000
Challenges John has faced in Hawking Business
Just like any other business, John says that hawking has its own challenges. He once lost goods worth Ksh 7,000 when his business was new after an encounter with county council. He had left his stock to get a customer his balance, when county council officials appeared from nowhere. He had to run to avoid getting arrested, leaving behind his stock. He says that the county council went away with his stock, a incidence that left him in financial distress. He was new to hawking and his business was still new and didn’t have enough stock in his stall. He later borrowed a loan from a friend to restock his business.
John continues to say other challenges he faces as a hawker is having to deal with rude customers. Most customers are unfriendly to hawkers and respond rudely. Before getting used to it, he almost quit hawking. It is then he became creative to start entertaining customers by sugar coating his stock to market his stock, before asking them to buy. This way, many people buy from him as a simple way to say thank you for being funny. His sales started improving.
Greatest Achievement John has Made from his Business
John's biggest achievement is having managed to buy a price of land where he plans to start building soon. “It has not been easy to save and buy the plot, especially with a family, paying rent and school fees.” His wife has been his biggest pillar who helps him to make financial decisions. “Having someone who understands you when things are tough is the best thing.”
His wife’s stall and his hawking business are their only source of income. He does not regret having started the stall and his hawking business. Through the business, he has managed to educate his children, the first born who is in class 5 and the second born in class 2. His family can now afford a decent life since he can pay house rent and set aside some savings.
Best Times for His Business
During school opening and closing days, it is the best time for John’s hawking business. He can make double or triple his sales on such days. Students buy a lot from him, especially items like biscuits, soda, chewing gum, sweets, socks and pens.
His stall and hawking business make an average of Ksh 40,000, but in a good month, he can make over Ksh 50,000.
John’s Future Plans for His Hawking Business
John plans to open a wholesale shop to start distributing goods to hawkers and stall owners. He says there is a huge market gap that he looks forward to fill. Wholesale business has a ready market since there are many hawkers and stalls in operation, unlike hawking where sales keep on fluctuating.
Advice to those Who Wish to Start Hawking Business
John encourages those who want to start hawking to ignore the notion that hawking is not profitable. it may be tough when one is starting and before adjusting and learning marketing skills. Determination and persistent is critical to succeed in the hawking business.