If you live in Kenya, I bet you have seen smokie vendors on the streets, wearing their white coats while pushing their trolleys or carrying their plastic buckets full of smokies and boiled eggs.
These vendors have become an integral part of society and make a decent amount of money from their business even if it might not seem like it. The two products have also risen to become part of the national snacks.
Let us first analyze the smokie and boiled eggs business model, before we calculate the approximate profit you can make in this business.
Benefits of starting a smokie and mayai business in Kenya.
1. Little initial capital required
Unlike other business models that require heavy capital, this business only requires very little initial capital. We will look at the total initial cost later on in the article.
2. Availability of a ready market
There is always a ready market for smokies and boiled eggs in the country. They do well mostly along busy streets and markets. However, you will also find them at strategic locations in residential areas.
Some sellers also do mobile delivery and hawking.
3. Little to no skill requirements.
Operating a smokie and boiled eggs business requires minimum skills level such as boiling and serving. These skills are easy to learn within a few days.
4. Availability of raw materials
All the materials necessary to make this business a success are locally available. You can easily find them at local shops, supermarkets, and food markets. The most common products include eggs, smokies, tomatoes, onion, and pepper to make the kachumbari.
Challenges of starting a smokie and mayai business in Kenya
1. High competition
Sorry to burst your bubble, but this business model already has a lot of competition in the country. This is mostly due to the ease of entry in terms of capital and ready market.
2. Perishability of the goods
Since you will be dealing with food, you must come up with a proper plan on how to deal with the leftovers due to the perishability factor. You do not want to be the type of business person who sells bad food to customers.
One of the ways to limit this is by controlling the amount of food you prepare according to demand.
3. Harassment by local authorities (kanjo)
This is another menace that boiled eggs and smokie vendors have to deal with almost daily if you are operating in the wrong place or without the right permit.
To limit this, you should target to comply with all the set regulations such as the location of operations and having all the relevant licenses.
Steps to follow when starting a smokie and mayai business in Kenya.
Below are some of the key steps to follow when starting a smokie and mayai business in Kenya.
- Market research
- Decide what to sell
- Get suppliers
- Purchase the necessary equipment
- Get a business location
- Start the business
1. Market research
This is always the first step whenever you are starting any business model. Market research involves finding out the best times to sell your goodies, the pricing of your eggs and smokies, and the materials needed.
The best way to perform market research for this business model in Kenya is to ask around among the existing eggs and smokie vendors, to learn more about the job.
Ask about any required certification and registration needed within your operating county. Examples of these include a food handler’s certificate and a business permit.
2. Decide what to sell
Having carried out proper and intensive market research, you need to decide what products to sell. The most commonly sold goods are smokies and mayai/eggs. However, most sellers do add other products to increase the streams of income such as sausages and chapatis on their list.
However, it does not mean that you should start selling them blindly without a plan. Once you choose the product to sell, choose a specific number of packets to start with, and increase from there.
I would not advise you to buy in bulk during the early days unless you have a refrigerator for storage and preservation. Buying them in bulk without the proper storage will result in wastage due to the high perishability levels.
3. Get suppliers
Smokies are easily available at any supermarket or any Farmers’ Choice outlet. Eggs can be sourced from a supermarket or from a farmer that supplies eggs. Analyze the costs for the different products and choose the most affordable supplier.
Chapatis can be sourced from any local hotel around you. Remember to place an order to ensure that they always prepare your chapatis. Alternatively, you can prepare them yourself to ensure to minimize the purchase costs.
This is possible if you have some time for this and the skills to do it.
Although you can buy your products from anywhere, I would recommend choosing one consistent supplier for a given product. This will help you create good customer relations with your supplier, and help you when you need to bargain for a discount.
Getting a reliable supplier can also work to your advantage in times when you need to stock in credit. Should this be the case, make sure to pay the supplier back on time, or else your relationship will be ruined.
Do not forget to source for kachumbari ingredients i.e. tomatoes, onions, dhania, salt, tomato sauce, and chilli.
4. Purchase the required equipment
There is various equipment you need to start and run this business effectively. These includes
1. Smokie vending cart
This is the cart that you see most vendors pushing around in town. The greatest benefit of purchasing this cart is that it allows mobility. Hence, you can easily move to areas with high business needs. It is also the most expensive equipment since it goes for approximately KES 5,000.
Do not worry in case the cost is high. There are two alternatives available. You can choose to hire a similar cart for a certain period or you can use clear plastic buckets to hawk your goodies as you save up for a cart.
You need a jiko or stove to keep the food warm. Most smokie and eggs vendors keep their jiko in a compartment within the smokie vending cart. Customers prefer to buy warm items making it a necessity to have it. In case you do not have a jiko, you can use a hotpot to help keep the eggs and smokies warm.
3. Clear plastic buckets/containers
A small plastic bucket will be enough to store your kachumbari. In case you are just starting, you can use any clear plastic container from home. Prepare the kachumbari at home and carry it with you as you sell it to the customers.
4. Wrapping paper
Since you will not be serving the goodies on a plate, you need to purchase some food wrapping papers. Farmer’s Choice usually has some wrapping papers specifically made for sausages and smokies. You can just split the paper open to serve eggs on the paper.
5. Knives and spoons
These are the cutlery that you will use to serve your customers. You can just use the ones present in your house if you are a starter.
To maintain hygiene, you should avoid handling customer food with your hands. Always use these tools and maintain high cleanliness levels.
5. Get a good business location
Business location is one of the key strategies that can either make or break a business. The ideal location for a smokie and eggs business in Kenya is where there is big human traffic. This increases the chances of getting customers.
Some of the ideal spots in Kenya include:
- Near learning institutions like universities and colleges
- Inside towns
- At a junction
- At market places
- Near bus stations
- Near bars and clubs
- Around hospitals and people’s parks
Anywhere where there is high human traffic is an ideal location for your business. However, due to the mobility nature of this business, you can change locations on a timely basis.
Always follow the customer. As an example, bus stations are ideal during the morning and evening hours when people are coming or getting out of town.
6. Start your smokie and eggs business
Finally, it is time to start your business. The early days will have a few challenges as they involve understanding the business and the tricks.
Some of the key issues you will learn in the early days include stock management and customer engagements. Others include the peak demand hours and customer needs. This information is necessary as it will allow you to adjust the business as per the customer’s needs.
To survive by selling smokies and mayai, here are some of the qualities you need to possess:
- Good customer service
How you relate with a specific customer determines whether they will buy from you again or not. The customer is always right is the rule of the business. Even if the customer is being difficult, try to remain calm and serve them well.
- High hygiene standards
To promote your business, you must maintain very high hygiene standards. Maintaining high hygiene ensures that your products do not cause food-related ailments to your customers.
Such a lapse could result in reputation risk and legal challenges from the various government agencies.
- Perseverance and consistency
You will not get customers right off the bat. It will take time before you start seeing productive results from your business. Other sellers might try to threaten you since you pose additional competition, but do not give up. All good things take time and your smokie and eggs business is no exception.
How much profit can you make from the smokie and mayai business in Kenya?
The average profit you make from a smokie or an egg is 10 shillings. Depending on your location, you can easily sell 100 pieces each on average.
This results in a daily profit of between 1,000 to 2,000 shillings daily after deducting the expenses. Hence, the more you sell the more your make. Another strategy to help you grow your income is by negotiating to get lower buying costs.
Some smokie vendors have admitted to making up to KES75,000 per month from selling smokies and eggs in Kenya. This amount of money is way more than most office workers are earning.
With a strategic business plan, it will become easy to achieve such results and make a good amount of cash to finance your life.
Conclusion on how to start a smokie and mayai business in Kenya
Most people deem selling smokies and boiled eggs in Kenya to be a not-so-lucrative business. However, with the statistics above, I think you can confidently counter that opinion. It might not be a white-collar job, and it might also involve a bit of effort compared to office jobs, but it pays well in the end.
If you are short of cash and ideas on how to earn some extra bucks, why not venture into this business model? Although the returns might seem meager in the beginning, keep going as it is all worth it in the end.