Enterprise in Kenya: Small Business is a Big Dream
Moses has forged a truly successful small businesses in Kenya but his story is a rare one.
Crimea-born Sergey Maximishin grew up in the USSR and worked as a photographer with the Soviet Army. He has worked as a photographer for over two decades and has won many awards since starting his career. Maximishin currently works for “Focus,” a German magazine.
Across one square kilometer of Nairobi’s Gikomba district, more than 4,000 people work for 200 businesses that process scrap metal.
Known as jua kali enterprises – the official term for people who work beneath the open sky (jua kali is Swahili for “scorching sun”) – these businesses turn empty oil barrels, construction waste, steel pipes, paint cans and other metal items into everything from pans and tools to life-size statues of animals.
Most of the workers are from western Kenya. They work 12-hour days, with no holidays, sick pay or other benefits. The average salary is $100 a month. Only around one-fifth of their output is sold in Kenya. The rest is exported to other East African countries and – in the case of the animal statues – to Europe.
Recently, the jua kali industry has faced a shortage of raw materials. Unable to buy empty barrels in Kenya, businesses now buy them in Tanzania.
Text and photographs by Sergey Maximishin
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