Although Mkala Chimako has been selling cassava and potato crisps at Mama Ngina Drive for the past seven years, he has maintained the same enthusiasm he had on the first day. “Karibuni kuna zile za muhogo na zile za waru,” he calls. (Welcome, both cassava and potato crisps are in plenty).

The 30-year-old says he spends Sh3,000 to buy cassava, oil, ground chilly and charcoal out of which he makes a profit of Sh7,000. He sells his Kachiri (crisps) in sealed packets starting from Sh50, Sh100 and Sh200. “During the weekend and during holidays, it is easy to make sales of up to Sh10,000 before deducting expenses.

Sales are, however, lower during weekdays since fewer people visit the park,” he says. Chimako says getting a good cassava that ensures sweet and crunchy crisps is a big challenge. “Bitter cassava is not good for crisps. It is the grainy and soft cassava that produces crunchy mouth watering crisps,” says Chimako who gets his supply of cassavas from Lunga Lunga, Msambweni and Vanga, Shimba Hills area of South Coast. Experience has also made it easy for him to identify good quality cassava which does not go bad quickly.

“Whenever I go to buy cassava, I cut and taste it at the farm which enables me to tell the quality of crisps it’ll give me and how long they will remain perishable. There are many of us who sell the same product and it is, therefore, important to ensure you have a quality product,” Chimako says as he drops raw cassava crisps into the hot cooking oil. The father of three is always at his open air stand by 8am and ends his working day at 11pm.

He credits the business for helping him take care of his family. “With such flexible working hours and good returns, I do not think I can fit into formal employment,” he says adding that he also gets orders to supply weddings. Chimako, who also does nduma (arrow roots) and matoke (plantains) crisps on order says the job is physically challenging. “Each day, I must must drink two packets of milk and eat a balanced diet,” he says.

First appeared here