When Risper Kerubo graduated with First Class honors in health services management from Kenyatta University in 2015, she believed a world of white-collar opportunities would be at her doorstep.
A bright future in the health sector seemed promising, given its perceived abundance of prospects.
However, to her surprise, Risper soon found that her dreams of a fantastic career were misplaced, as she struggled to secure a job despite her stellar academic achievements.
Disheartened and faced with the reality of unemployment, Risper decided to explore alternative avenues to make ends meet.
Having observed her fellow kinsmen in Kisii making money by selling bananas and avocados from the countryside in Nairobi, she saw a potential opportunity in this field.
“Coming from Kisii, I had watched for years my kinsmen making money by getting bananas and avocados from the countryside and selling them in Nairobi, and I thought this is something I could do as well,” she said during a past interview with Business Daily.
After thorough research on sourcing the commodities from farmers at a fair price, Risper took the leap and set up a small shop in Nairobi’s Imara Daima estate in 2016.
Starting her fruit vending business was not without its challenges. Risper had to contend with doubts and internal conflict over the fact that she worked hard in school, posting exemplary grades and earning a prestigious First Class degree, only to end up as a fruit vendor.
However, as days turned into weeks and weeks into months, she not only embraced her situation but also discovered a genuine passion for the enterprise.
Her daily routine begins at 4 am when she heads to Nairobi’s bustling Wakulima Market, where she competes to secure the best produce as soon as the lorries arrive.
Faced with the pressure to satisfy her loyal customers and attract new ones, Risper must act swiftly to select the finest bananas and avocados. Once she has her stock, she hires someone to help transport it to the matatu stage, from where she catches transport to her shop.
At her shop, the real work begins as she sorts and prepares the fruits for her customers. The laborious and often dirty job, especially for a woman, presents its own set of challenges.
Nevertheless, Risper’s perseverance and dedication shine through as she has managed to build a successful venture, selling up to two 90kg sacks of bananas and nearly five crates of avocados each day.
“In a day, I sell up to two 90kg sacks of bananas, and nearly five crates of avocados. I make a daily net profit of Sh1,000,” she said.
While her business has helped Risper meet her family’s needs and even save money for future expansion, it hasn’t been smooth sailing.
The societal perception of a university graduate working in a seemingly unrelated field has been a constant challenge. People, including some of her clients, have suggested she should pursue a “good job” and leave the business to others.
Even her parents initially viewed the venture as a temporary measure until she secured a more suitable job.
Despite the criticism and naysayers, Risper’s resilience and hard work have garnered admiration from some. She remains motivated by those who recognize her courage to pursue what she loves, even in the face of societal expectations.
As she reflects on her journey, the health services management graduate acknowledges that while she wouldn’t mind working in her field of study and even pursuing a master’s degree someday, her passion for the fruit vending business is unparalleled.
The experience has transformed her perception of success, showing her that fulfillment and accomplishment can be found in unexpected places.
Although Risper Kerubo once thought her university education would lead to a particular career path, she now sees herself as an entrepreneur at heart.
Balancing her business with the care of her two-year-old child, she has honed her skills as a businessperson and discovered her innate ability to thrive in entrepreneurship. Risper’s inspirational journey serves as a reminder that success can be found in unexpected places and that passion and perseverance can lead to fulfilling paths beyond conventional norms.