Boiled eggs and smokies: On-the-go snacks business thriving in Kenya
The eggs and smokies business is thriving as more Kenyans embrace the favourite on-the-go snacks.
Customers at bus stops, marketplaces and bars are the main consumers of the snacks.
It is common to see men and women in white coats carrying buckets or hot pots or pushing three-wheeled trolleys moving from bar to bar selling the snacks.
Prices are uniform across the country, with a boiled egg going for Sh20 and a smokie Sh25.
Damaris Ndinda, 38, has been in the business for the past eight years. She was initially a tomato vendor but poor returns forced her to venture into the boiled eggs and smokies trade.
The low capital required to start the business was a boost for the single mother of two who lives in Shauri Moyo, Nairobi.
“The biggest expense goes into buying a trolley,” Ndinda says.
“Today it costs Sh5,000 but when I started the business it cost Sh3,000. I could not afford a trolley then, so I rented one for a year until I saved enough to buy my own.”
She wakes up at 4:30am and leaves for Gikomba market, where she buys six trays of eggs at Sh1,620 and five kilos of smokies at Sh1,100.
She also buys onions, tomatoes and pepper needed for kachumbari and kicks off the business at her workstation at Muthurwa market at 6am.
“Peak selling time is from 6am to 8am and 5pm to 8pm. Many Nairobians, especially men, eat boiled eggs for breakfast. They prefer eggs and smokies because they can eat them on the move,” she says.
On a good day she sells all the five kilos of smokies and the six trays of eggs, but on a bad day she sells four trays of eggs and three of smokies.
With a profit of Sh220 per kilo of smokies and Sh300 per crate of eggs, she makes between Sh1,800 Sh3,000 in profits daily.
The business pays her rent and puts food on the table for her two children.
“I have educated my eldest daughter through high school thanks to this business. I plan to do the same for my younger one, who is in Form One. The business also supports my mother and younger siblings back home.”
She remembers a friend advising her to consider starting another trade because she thought selling eggs and smokies would not earn her enough to put her child through school.
“Whenever I meet the friend I remind her that I am still in the same business. I fail to understand why some people look down on such businesses yet they pay more than some office jobs.”
Her trolley, she says, has been a game changer in the business. Its transparent glass advertises the tasty snacks within. The trolley also harbours a jiko that keeps the eggs and smokies hot, making them tastier.
Ndinda also appreciates the trolley’s portability, which enables vendors to move around with ease in search of customers.
She says that without the trolley her job would be difficult. Hard work and resilience carry the day, she says. She urges unemployed Kenyans to try out the business.
“Don’t let lack of money discourage you, I began with a rented trolley and now I own my own,” she says.