At the busy Olive Inn Estate stage in Nakuru Town, stands a young man dressed in a white apron, earnestly serving the endless queue of customers walking up to him.
It is hard to miss Casper Chebii’s trolley with its steaming hot sausages, smokies, and boiled eggs.
Chebii, 23, is a civil engineering student at the Rift Valley Institute of Science and Technology (RVIST) and has been running his business on the side since July 2017. He is grateful for the opportunities life has thrown his way, after a seemingly low period in his life.
“I was born and raised in Baringo County. I am the seventh child in a family of eight siblings. I have always been a bright student and despite my financial challenges, I scored 351 marks in my KCPE exam, which secured me a position at Moi High School Kabartonjo,” he says.
When Casper was in Form Two, he fell ill in the third term and he was partially paralysed on the left side of his body. He had developed allergies because of the cold and was later diagnosed with pneumonia. But he continued with his studies until the second term of Form Three when he dropped out of school to seek medication as his health had deteriorated.
His family was devastated and went from one hospital to another seeking the ultimate treatment to help him recover. But after so many journeys and a fortune spent on treatment, with little improvement, they eventually also used herbal medicines.
“I was always the top 10 student and my sickness stressed me so much, especially since most of my peers were in their final year in high school. After a year of medication, I had not fully recovered but I still wanted to go back to school,” he says.
His parents could not afford fees and other expenses in his former school, so they enrolled him at Kasisit Secondary School. Casper joined the Form Three class and emerged position 4 out of the 79 students. He later sat his KCSE exam and scored a B-.
Casper was offered a position at Technical University of Kenya but his parents were unable to raise the school fees. Casper then decided to join his older brother in Nakuru. His brother owned a butchery in town and Casper helped out. He started saving his income and in 2016 he enrolled at RVIST, where he is pursuing a diploma in civil engineering.
Shortly after enrolling for the course, he decided to start a business to enable him pay his school fees and be self-sustainable.
“I wanted something to do during the long holidays as I hate being idle. I had saved Sh10,000 and I decided to start this business. I have no regrets as I make a profit of Sh10,000 to Sh15,000 a month. So far I have been able to sustain myself comfortably,” he adds.
Running a business is not easy, and it gets harder when you also have to go to school. But for Casper, his determination to succeed is motivation enough to make him set aside sufficient time to pursue both interests.
He gets up very early to prepare for the business, and when he is in school, his sister runs the business during the day.
Casper is currently on his apprenticeship attachment at the Ministry of Public Works. He wakes up at 4.30am to boil the eggs, then sets up the trolley so his sister can comfortably run his side hustle during the day. As soon as he gets home at 5.30pm, he changes into his apron and takes over the running of the business until 9pm.
“It’s not an easy business. Sometimes the sales go down and I run at a big loss when I end up throwing away so many of my products. Also, there are many bars near the corner at which I sell my snacks, and sometimes people who are drunk come and eat my food and then refuse to pay. But despite such challenges, positivity, confidence, and persistence are key in my life,” he says.
His greatest support comes from his family. Students he schools with also support him and have encouraged him to move his business into the school premises or closer to the institution school.
Casper plans to expand his business so he can earn more and save more as he prepares to open his own engineering firm in future, after which he plans to hand over the sausage and eggs business to his sister. He also hopes to graduate next year and then pursue a degree programme.
From his business, Casper has learnt that hard work pays and when you do something with passion and determination, you will get positive results.
Although he still gets allergic reactions, especially when exposed to a lot of cold such as in the evenings or during the rainy season, Casper refuses to give up on living a full life.
He urges young people to take up activities that add value. He adds that they should always do something so that at the end of the day they don’t regret wasting their time.
“Never give up, and be confident in what you do. There may be tough times, but the difficulties you face will make you more determined to achieve your objectives,” he adds.