A 28-year-old American woman who was recently pictured hawking mandazi on the streets of Kisumu city has spoken out.
Silvia Bichanga says she married a Kenyan man in April this year, but the couple fell on hard economic times a few months later, forcing her husband to shut down a computer shop he was operating.
“Life became so hard after we got married that we were forced to close down a computer shop where my husband used to work,” Bichanga said in an interview with a local daily.
Her husband soon started repairing laptops at his friend’s shop in downtown Kisumu, but what he earned was not enough to sustain the family.
To supplement her husband’s income, Silvia teamed up with a friend named Eve Ochieng and started making and selling American-style street foods by the roadside, something their husbands thought was insane.
They later secured a small stall near a car wash and named the shop ‘Mzungu Pretzels’ where they prepare and sell mandazi, pretzels, apple pie, and pizza pockets, all for under Sh100.
Because sales were initially inconsistent, Silvia resorted to hawking on Kisumu streets in a bid to build a customer base. This worked well for her, and she reports making a profit of between Sh1,500 and Sh2,000 a day.
“Most people say, ‘this is how I can experience America right in Car Wash’,” Bichanga said.
She admitted that she gets well along with men as opposed to women, many of whom question her motives.
“Some make discouraging statements like ‘why are you hawking, yet you people have money and you could even pay my rent!’ Little do they know what’s actually on the ground,” she said.
Bichanga came to Kenya through a Conservative Christian Mission and met her husband in 2019. They dated for two years before wedding in April this year.