The 'joke' That Rakes In Handsome Earnings

35 Days(s) Ago    👁 76
the joke that rakes in handsome earnings
It started as a joke. John Nyaga had just walked away from a dead-end job he thought would open the door to his dream career. He was cash-poor but skills-rich. Rather than join the millions of unemployed youth eyeing the few job openings available, John decided to make his luck. "I just needed bundles. I used my phone to advertise my services on my social media platforms," he says. He would post plant pictures pretending they were his to sell. If someone showed interest, he'd approach a trader, strike a deal and get a commission when the transaction was done. "Sometimes they (prospecting buyers) were sceptical that I may be running an online scam so they'd want to visit my shamba. I would agree, but before they got there, I would have talked to the owners who always agreed to pretend because helping me out meant helping themselves," he says with a laugh explaining his journey into the gardening and landscaping business. From joke to a serious venture It may have started as a joke, but over time it has grown into a serious venture. When the BDLife arrived at his site on Nairobi's Ngong' Road, John Nyaga had just finished loading seedlings into a pickup truck. Dressed in work clothes and rubber boots, he is sweating, not from the sun's heat, but from the work he has just finished. Growing up, this was not what he dreamed of doing, but it is very gratifying and earns him much more than when he was employed. Since teenagehood, all John wanted to do was travel the world. He always wanted to work in the tourism industry. Not once did he envision himself as a roadside vendor selling flowers, pots, soil and manure. "I loved to travel a lot and I still do. That passion led me into the tourism industry. After graduating with a Bachelor's degree in tourism management in 2015, I was lucky to get a job immediately. But it was a new company that paid Sh10,000 a month. Sometimes I even walked to work. I never expected so little," says John. After a year, he quit the job. "I told myself that I would rather suffer out there than suffer and still be employed," he says. Best decision In 2017, life took another turn, for the better. That decision to quit employment, he says, is one of the best decisions of his life. The 30-year-old has gone from being an employee to an employer boss, earning 12 times more than what he managed in his previous job. His business is strategically located on a quarter-acre of land on Nairobi's Ngong' Road, for which he paid Sh10,000 goodwill. "We are roadside flower vendors; which means that our spaces are not permanent. Most of us were allocated small spaces when the roads were widened. Those who did nothing with their spaces sold them to us. That's how we ended up here," he says. Hitting six-figure earnings John sells a wide range of products including plants, flowers, vases, manure and red soil, earning more than Sh100,000 a month. "On average, I can make sales of about Sh120,000. There are times when I make better sales in a month, but there are also months when we struggle," he says. In addition to selling gardening materials, John also offers professional landscaping services, including consultancy, landscape design, implementation and maintenance. "When I was at the college, I spent most of my weekends doing side jobs to put something in my pocket. I found myself doing landscaping because my cousins, who I lived with, were doing it. Their parents were in the business," he recalls. Now a well-established and highly sought-after landscaper, he travels the country, living the dream. His biggest breakthrough came when he transformed the estate of a well-known Kenyan politician. "When I did a project and was paid Sh250,000, it motivated me to focus more on my work. I can now take on any landscaping project," says John. He has tapped into the power of social media marketing, drawing his clients from Facebook, TikTok and even Instagram. He is also an administrator of the Kenya Landscapers Facebook group, which has helped him increase his business. "It helps that most of my clients trust me. Client retention is always my priority, so they refer their family and friends to me," he says. Challenges along the journey Despite the growing demand for flowers, pots, and trees, Mr Nyaga acknowledges the challenges he faces on the side of the road, including an inadequate water supply to irrigate the plants. He also lives in perpetual fear of losing his space at any time. And just like many non-essential goods sellers, his plant business has been affected by the consumers' low purchasing power in an economy battered by high inflation and taxes. Sales, he says, are not as high as they were a few years ago, but overall, the business brings in good money. "Clients numbers are down as most cite harsh economic conditions," he reveals. Nonetheless, he is hopeful. Landscaping and climate change As more people yearn for green spaces, he recommends live plants in workplaces and homes, saying that landscaping will pla