From wheelchair to thriving tuk-tuk business

At first, he begged from his wheelchair, then he sold fruits and vegetables, then he started a tuk-tuk taxi business

In Summary

• Because you're born wit a disability does'n't  define you. You make your own way.

• Daniel moved from begging to selling fruits and veggies. Now he has a tuk-tuk business, ferries passengers and veggies and plans to expand. How high can he go?i.       

A tuk-tuk used by born-lame Daniel Kipkoech as a txi ad to sell fruits and vegetables.
STRIVING HIGHER: A tuk-tuk used by born-lame Daniel Kipkoech as a txi ad to sell fruits and vegetables.
Image: KNA

Often, you see a person with disability living on the streets begging for money from passersby.

Sometimes the situation is so dire even young, disabled children are left on the streets by their guardians to beg for basic commodities from Good Samaritans.

That's not for  Daniel Kipkoech. The 29-year-old was born physically lame but he is rising from rags to riches after starting from hawking fruits on the streets to a thriving transport sector investment.

Kipkoech was born in Longisa area, Bomet county, but after school, he shifted to Narok town in his quest for greener pastures.

The first-born in a family of five, he studied in Bomet and later joined Kisii Polytechnic to study fashion and design.

However, due to lack of cash to purchase a sewing machine, he was unable to start his own business, forcing him to look for an alternative venture that required little capital.

“I was so determined to start my own business and after shifting to Narok town, I started hawking fruits from the wheel chair. I used to purchase the fruits like bananas, oranges, avocados and mangoes, on wholesale and I would go round the town in my wheelchair looking for customers,” he recalls.

Kipkoech says the fruit business did not yield much return  and he was forced to change course and supply soft drinks to retail shops.

“By this time, I had modified my wheelchair to carry more cargo. After being in the business for a few years, I did not get enough returns as I expected, making me quit to ‘mali mali’ business,” he said.  

The ‘mali mali’ business attracted many customers who bought utensils, sanitry pads ands other items. On a good day, he got a profit of as much as Sh2,000 and on a bad day, he got only Sh200.

“I was so strict, I had to save Sh1,000 every day. The rest I used to buy food and pay rent,” he adds.

Eventually, the money he saved was enough to purchase a three-wheeler tuk-tuk that uses as a taxi.

“On many occasions, I am hired by business people who move from one market to another to sell goods. I am happy because the business is giving me more returns than my previous ventures,” he tells KNA.

He adds, “When I bought the tuk-tuk, my friends were happy and they brought me gifts without even asking for their help because they saw I did not beg for help from anyone.”

When asked about his marital status, Kipkoech was quick to say he has to accumulate more money and establish a home before getting a wife because he wanted his children to live a decent life.

“No woman will accept a lame man, like me, who does not have enough money. But I believe if I am financially stable, I can get a good woman to marry,” Kipkoech adds.

He calls on people with disability to use what God has given them to earn an income instead of begging.

“Being physically disabled does not mean that you are mentally disabled. Just start a small business and I believe God will bless it to grow and become a very big enterprise. Imagine if you are seated somewhere begging and people pass you without dropping a single coin in your basket. You will feel very bad and end up hating people,” he said.

Dorcas Meitamei who owns a grocery shop in Narok town said she first met Kipkoech when he was hawking fruits because he used to frequent her shop to buy grains.

She confesses that Kipkoech is a hardworking man who does not seek sympathy from the residents but works with his own hands to earn a living.

“I am so happy to see my friend Kipkoech is now driving a tuk tuk that he purchased with his own money. I believe his business will continue expanding,” she says.

She called upon society to embrace persons with disabilities and help them become independent as they also have different talents.

“Instead of always giving them fish, they should be shown how to fish and where necessary, help them start small businesses so that they can sustain themselves,” Dorcas counselled.

Mike Yiaile a businessman in Narok town says he knew Kipkoech when he was selling fruits from a wheelchair.

Yiaile describes Kipkoech as a self-motivated person who is faithful in his job as on many occasions, he gives him luggage to deliver in a certain market, which he does on time. 

Who knows what's next?

(Edited by V.Graham)

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