President William Ruto, when addressing the nation at the Parliament buildings on November 9, 2023, mentioned the names of Kenyans whom he claimed had benefited in one way or another from the implementation of his Bottom-Up manifesto. One of them is Sospeter Obuba Ondieki, a 43-year-old pipe fitter and tile installer from Bobaracho, Nyaribari Chache, Kisii County.
According to President Ruto, Ondieki is among the heroes of the Hasla Fund launched by the government on November 31, 2022.
“The success of the Hustler Fund is well explained by Sospeter Ondieki’s story from Kisii. The Film Department should seek him out to narrate his story. Mr. Ondieki runs a business of connecting pipes and laying tiles in homes in Kisii and has successfully obtained a total of Ksh 1.7 million from the Hasla Fund,” said the President’s speech.
Speaking to Taifa Leo, he mentioned that he was in Nairobi and was going about his usual activities on Wednesday, November 8, when he received a call from State House informing him that the President wanted to speak with him.
“I told them I am at a construction site and they asked if I could be at home by eight to speak with the President. I went to my house in Ngong, and people came, surrounded me; they took out their cameras, and after about five minutes, I heard the President’s voice. At first, I thought it was a joke, but it was pure joy when I heard the President’s voice,” Ondieki said.
He spoke to the President at 10 p.m. The video of the President talking on the phone with Ondieki was distributed on Thursday by the State House Information Unit. It shows Ondieki’s joyful voice as he told President Ruto about his life, with the President asking him how he managed to borrow and save money through the Hasla Fund.
“At first, I wanted to start a poultry business, but it wasn’t possible, so I have been using the Hasla Fund to buy food for my family and other needs like transportation. Even when I came to Nairobi on Sunday, I used the Hasla Fund,” he told the President.
He told the President that initially, the maximum amount he received was Ksh 1,500, but he was fortunate to have the amount doubled. “Even now, I have a debt of Ksh 3,000. I am looking for casual work, and when I get it, I will repay,” he said.
Ondieki, who uses a basic mobile phone, mentioned that he is a certified pipe fitter and received training from the Kisii Technical College in 2002-2003. However, the father of three daughters and two sons has not reaped significantly from his work, stating that he mostly relies on odd jobs.
“I thank the President for recognizing those with low incomes. The first time I heard about the Hasla Fund was through the radio, and I told myself I would look for it as soon as it was launched,” he explained.