Here’s Why Kenyan Man Quit His Banking Job to Sell Pencils on the Street

| How Africa News


“People buy with their eyes first. If you dress well, they will buy from you.” Those were the words of Kenyan man Edgar Otieno, who left his banking job to sell pencils on the street while looking sharp, dressed in suits.

Three years ago, he shocked many Kenyans when pictures of him selling pencils while wearing a suit went viral. When Otieno quit his corporate position at Barclays Bank to go into sales, he was in his early 40s.

“Some people wonder why I show up every morning sharply dressed yet my work involves chasing after customers and convincing them to buy pencils; in sales, people buy you first before they buy whatever you are selling,” he said, according to Having worked in sales and marketing some years back, Otieno knew that he had to look neat and sharp to attract customers to his products.

The former banker relocated to Nairobi at the age of 25 to begin working for a company that hired sales representatives for pencil and cutlery products, leaving his home village of Busia. He was so skilled at closing deals that not long after starting work, he was named the top sales representative. And despite the fact that the business went out of business in 2005, he continued to do what he likes to do: sell. He enjoys the freedom that comes with hawking since it gives him the chance to pursue other interests, like farming and completing his education.

He was hopeful about finding a better job and was able to enroll in a social work diploma program because to the money he made selling pencils. The Kenyan businessman recently disclosed to that on a good day, he generates at least KSh 1,000 (about $7) from the sale of Nataraj pencils made in India.

Many of his clients tried to hire him for sales and marketing positions, but he declined them because of the lesser compensation. He did prosper thanks to his sales prowess and attire. Additionally, Otieno acquired the fundamentals of other languages in Kenya since he understood that customers preferred to do business with someone who spoke their native tongue. This helped him attract more clients.

“A pencil is often needed by all. Anybody I impress buys it, some even for their friends,” Otieno was quoted by The Standard. “In the city centre, people have purchasing power and there are many people. I hawk until 9 pm. Buying is contagious, others buy when they see others doing so.”

“I love his heart. One of us poached him for insurance, but he didn’t go for long. He preferred hawking,” one of his admirers Bancy Roba said.


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