Edgar Otieno: Man who left bank job to hawk pencils in Nairobi Speaks

The story of Edgar Otieno cuts an image of an ambitious and daring young man. Years ago, Otieno left many in shock after he left a well-paying corporate job to hawk pencils in the streets of Nairobi. Otieno who was employed by Barclays Bank (Now ABSA) tendered his resignation letter, and got into streets with hope if making a difference in the hawking sector.

Many Kenyans view hawking as a preserve of the unemployed and unemployable. To Otieno however, it was a great opportunity to exercise his expertise as sales person. He woke up every morning, groomed to an impression of a corporate officer and headed to the street to start the day.

Many of those who interacted with Otieno wondored why a man with a banking background would leave a lucrative job to hawk pencils on the streets. Otieno had a simple answer, “In sales, people buy the seller before buying the product.”

True to his words, Otieno’s impeccable dressing and willingness to speak multiple languages has won him so many clients.

I have been forced to learn basic phrases of different languages in Kenya.Over the years I have been on streets, I have learned that people prefer to by from their own or someone who speaks their language,” he said.


Edgar Otieno who hails from Busia County began his Sales career some years back. Upon arrival in Nairobi, he stumbled at a company that was recruiting sales agents for pencil and cutlery products. He began so well that within a short period, he was already the top performing sales agent.

The company closed in 2005 but that did not cut short his passion, but instead embarked on personal business.

While speaking in an earlier interview, Otieno said he enjoy hawking because of flexibility, something that give him freedom to pursue other interests like education and farming. Through his little earning, he was able to enroll for a diploma in social work, with hope of getting a better job.

In 2012 I enrolled for a diploma in social work buit I have not managed to get any job. Over the past I dismissed several job offers.I declined them because none was willing to pay me better than what I get in a day.

Many people still holds misconception about Otieno’s job. His impeccable dressing style has continued to pique suspicion among many, with some speculating that he is a NIS detective sent to gather information from unsuspecting buying.

According to him however, “People buy with their eyes first. If you dress well, they will buy from you.”

He further says,” I am not an NIS detective as many think. For instance I once contested for Marachi Ward seat but lost. If I was a civil servant,I would not have been allowed to contest.”

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