BY ZABLON OYUGI
Side hustles can be a make-and-break for many Kenyan workers, as the difference between scrimping and saving, and living a life where bills get paid.
For Sela Awino Migaya, an Information Technology expert by profession, rearing chickens is today earning her Sh150,000 a month as a side-hustle, beside her roughly Sh60,000 IT salary.
The 27-year-old from Siaya County says farming is her childhood marvel and, in 2016, saw an opportunity to increase her income by rearing Kuroiler and indigenous chickens in her one-eighth-acre farm.
“I used to spend Sh20,000 on rent, approximately Sh5,000 on transport and with food and other personal needs, I found myself living one paycheque after another, barely saving a shilling.”
In 2016 she bought 150 one-day-old kuroiler chicks from Thika with start-up capital of Sh15,000. As they continued to multiply, she put up a poultry house at Sh70,000.
Ms Migaya, who works in Kisumu City on weekdays from 8:30am to 4:30pm, and 8:00am to mid-day on Saturdays, travels to the village in Siaya to attend to her poultry every Saturday afternoon and Sunday.
Hers is a tight schedule of travel and work. Ms Migaya became an IT specialist after earning a diploma in ICT from the Technical University of Kenya in Nairobi in 2013. She then landed an internship with a clearance and forwarding company in Mombasa, earning around Sh50,000 a month.
After her internship ended, she took a one-year break from working to concentrate on family, and then got her current job in 2015.
But it is her side hustle that has made her professional career sustainable.
Ms Migaya’s poultry farm is located in the very rural setting of Usire along Bondo-Usenge highway, near Maranda High School.
She supplies 14 chickens a week to two schools in the area, each for Sh700, earning her Sh9,800.
“During the festive season, I sold approximately 5,000 chicks, which was the highest demand I have ever had. Currently, the farm is housing between 470 and 500 chickens, so I am, therefore, restocking to meet the next bunch of orders,” she said. She also supplies first-starter farmers with chicks, who order between 250-300 each.
This commits her to a monthly output of 2,000 chicks, which she prices at Sh100 for day-olds, and between Sh600 and Sh800 for a mature chicken.
To cope with demand, Ms Magaya has invested in an incubator with a capacity of 126 eggs that help her hatch more chicks for the market.
However, like other business ventures, poultry keeping has its own challenges. “There are so many things chickens need, such as feeding, stress management, and vaccination. These may not go as they should if I am not available full-time in the farm,” she said, dreaming of a transfer to work near her rural home.
To cut cost of feeds, she buys unmixed feeds of 100kg at Sh3,500 that lasts for seven weeks, compared with Sh5,000 for mixed.