17-year-old Yusuf Yahya was one of Lifesong Kenya’s Restorative Justice Program in 2019. Before he got arrested, Yusuf used to sell roasted groundnuts along Mombasa Road. This is a series that follows his experiences as a first time juvenile offender and how Lifesong Kenya supports exceptional young men like him.
Yusuf Yahya: Triple Threat Part 1
17-year-old Yusuf Yahya knew that selling roasted groundnuts at the junction of Enterprise Road and Mombasa Road would earn him a decent income.
With his mom, Khadijah Yahya, earning income as a casual labourer who washed people’s clothes, baby sitting and sometimes ‘taking care of men’s needs’, Yusuf’s income helped take care of buying vegetables, kerosene and candles when the power in their house went off.
One day, Yusuf was on his daily rounds of selling groundnuts to local business owners at Mukuru Kwa Njenga before going to the junction. One of his loyal customers owned a phone repair kiosk where one could also buy phone accessories, second hand phones and leave their phone for charging.
In addition to this, one could also use their assets as collateral or security in exchange of a soft loan. Because the loan terms were not very favourable, most of his clients had no way of paying back the loans on time. As a result, many of them defaulted. The repair shop ended up having gas cooker cylinders, TV sets, woofer speakers, phones and other things that were sold off to new clients.
To get a loan, all one needed to do was surrender an original receipt, warranty and sign off a contract that transferred ownership if, and when one failed to repay their loan on time.
For so many years, the owner of the shop had been telling Yusuf about a lucrative phone business that would cost Yusuf nothing in terms of investment and yet, reap him high yields. What’s more, he didn’t have to stop selling roasted groundnuts because it was part of the deal.
The night before Yusuf finally decided to take up the offer, something happened at his mom’s house. He was so disappointed and so mad he went to sleep with a vow to change things – once and for all.
The man his mom was bringing home was making it difficult for Yusuf and his older siblings to have a place to sleep. It all began when he showed up one night with bread, milk, blue band and his mom’s favourite – Pembe Maize Flour and goat liver!
With time, the man started staying late. Then, he eventually started sleeping over. And every time this happened, Yusuf and his siblings had to find a place to sleep.
“I can see you are up and running,” the phone repair shop owner said. “I like it when a young man like you works hard. Reminds me of my younger self.
“But, with your energy and commitment, you have the potential of earning much more,” he continued. “At your age, I wasn’t sleeping in my mom’s house. I was able, not only to rent my own house, but rented my mom a decent house.
“Let me show you how to earn a decent income with minimal investment” he said, ushering Yusuf Yahya inside his kiosk.
End of Part 1