When Risper Kerubo graduated with a First Class honors degree in health services management from Kenyatta University in 2015, she envisioned a future filled with exciting white-collar job opportunities in the health sector.
Eager to embark on a promising career, she soon found herself searching for employment with high hopes, only to face disappointment as months went by without any prospects.
As the reality of the job market sunk in, Risper began to explore alternative ways to make ends meet. Hailing from Kisii, she had observed her kinsmen thrive in the business of selling bananas and avocados from the countryside in Nairobi.
Intrigued by the idea, she delved into research on how she could source these commodities from farmers at a fair price.
In 2016, armed with newfound knowledge on the trade, Risper took a leap of faith and set up a small shop in Nairobi’s bustling Imara Daima estate.
Little did she know that this decision would change the trajectory of her life.
In the beginning, doubts lingered in Risper’s mind, as she grappled with reconciling her academic achievements with her new role as a fruit vendor. Nevertheless, she persevered, putting in relentless effort to make her business thrive.
Each day, she sold up to two 90kg sacks of bananas and nearly five crates of avocados, generating a daily net profit of Sh1,000 after deducting all the costs, including transport, capital, and her worker’s salary.
Despite her success, Risper’s journey was not without challenges. The early mornings, starting at 4 am, were spent at Nairobi’s Wakulima Market, where she had to compete fiercely to get the best produce as soon as it arrived.
The job demanded physical labor and a resilient spirit, traits not conventionally associated with her academic background.
As she mastered the ins and outs of her business, Risper’s passion for entrepreneurship blossomed. The pride of being a successful businesswoman far outweighed the initial societal expectations of her securing a prestigious job. Even though some clients and acquaintances questioned her career choice, Risper learned to rise above criticism and societal norms.
Notably, her parents, too, had their reservations initially. To them, Risper’s business was a temporary measure while she sought a job in her field. However, as they witnessed her determination and accomplishments, they eventually grew to appreciate her entrepreneurial spirit.
Amidst the naysayers, Risper found solace in the support of friends and fellow university alumni. Many admired her courage and resilience in embracing an unconventional career path. This recognition fueled her determination to succeed and gave her the confidence to stay true to her passions.
As her business thrived, Risper faced yet another challenge, balancing her work responsibilities with the care of her two-year-old child. Juggling motherhood and entrepreneurship required immense dedication and time management skills, but she tackled it with the same tenacity that drove her to excel academically.
Despite the arduous journey, Risper’s fruit vending business enabled her to meet her family’s needs and allowed her to make savings to expand her enterprise. Although she never gave up on the idea of pursuing her master’s degree someday, she discovered a genuine love for her business that she couldn’t ignore.
Her success story echoes the sentiment that true fulfillment lies in pursuing one’s passions and strengths, even if it means deviating from conventional career paths. Risper’s journey from a recent graduate with impeccable grades to a thriving fruit vendor is a testament to the resilience and adaptability of the human spirit.