For 27-year-old Sylvanus Osoro, life has been a long, winding journey of struggles. Born and brought up in Gucha district, Kisii County, Osoro has defied the odds to become the CEO of PitchFace Marketing Division.
He also owns a hotel in Nairobi, and is a lawyer by profession. But all this, he says, didn’t come by luck. “I did door-to-door sales for more than a year to achieve this,” he says with a light touch.
After his parents death, Osoro came to Nairobi with an uncle who, soon after, got jailed. That ended the good life that Osoro had gotten used to. His uncle’s wife wasn’t ready to feed an extra mouth.
Another uncle who worked at a tea factory in Kericho came to his rescue. But here, things weren’t rosy either. Going to school without breakfast became all too familiar.
But Osoro still worked hard through Chemasingi Primary School and later Kapsabet Boys High School in Nandi County. His relatives, who considered him worse than a stray cat, only paid the first year’s fee and said there was no more money despite having received his father’s terminal benefits.
Osoro left school and became a tea picker in the factory in which his uncle was the supervisor. Instead of getting paid, his uncle pocketed his dues. Annoyed, Osoro left for Kisii. But after months of doing a lot of odd jobs, he could barely pay school fees.
Later, the head teacher of Nyabigena Secondary School allowed him to join his school. However, he was again sent away from school after only one term. Desperation was creeping into the young lad’s mind, but Osoro refused to give in to feelings of hopelessness.
While living with his aunt in Kisii, he again started hawking and also trained as a welder.
“Just as I was thinking of looking for a job as a welder, the proprietor of Hill Secondary School in Kisii, who had worked with my father, offered me a full scholarship in his school,” he says.
The fact that he lacked all the neccessary things for a student didn’t deter his ambition to excel in KCSE. His belief was in God and his prayerful habit made other students to nickname him ‘pastor’.
After high school, he was out on the streets again since he could not afford university fees. Luckily, he got a chance as untrained teacher and earned a salary of about Sh2,500.
From his savings, he enrolled for a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) course in Nairobi where another uncle offered him accommodation in Mukuru Kwa Reuben.
“I had a burning determination to finish my accountancy course so I became a newspaper vendor. I used to wake up at 3am to pick copies of the newspaper and sell along Bunyala Road,” he says.
He went on to complete CPA 11, but a job was not as fast coming as he wanted. Despite that, he quit his job as a newspaper vendor. Osoro once again engaged his salesman’s skills to earn a living. He bought and resold second hand clothes.
Lady luck smiled on him this time as he made good money and his uncle, who had been released, invited him to Molo. He gave Osoro a brand new motorbike to ply the bodaboda trade.
“For the first time, I opened a bank account. But this good luck wasn’t to last long as an accident rendered my uninsured motorbike a write-off. At the same time, post-election violence erupted. I withdrew all my cash and fled to Nairobi,” Osoro says.
As soon as he landed in Nairobi, he was robbed of all his money by a rowdy mob. Without a single coin in his pocket, he went back to his uncle in Mukuru kwa Reuben.