Sylvia Bichanga prepares mandazis at her stall in Car Wash estate in Kisumu.
Sylvia Bichanga prepares mandazis at her stall in Car Wash estate in Kisumu.
Image: DANIEL OGENDO

Sylvia Bichanga, a 28-year-old white woman who has become a sensation in Kisumu because she cooks and hawks mandazis.

She has shared the inspiration behind her business.

Pressed by hard economic times after getting married to a local seven months ago, she teamed up with her friend, Eve Ochieng', also married to a local, to start the business.

 "Life became so hard after we got married and we were forced to close down a computer shop where my husband used to work," Sylvia revealed, adding that he currently fixes laptops at his friend's shop located in the town centre.

Bichange and Ochieng' started a business of selling mandazis by the roadside in September this year; an idea which wasn't received well by their husbands until they managed to secure a shop.

They sold their treats on the roadside for two days but with demand, they each contributed 50 per cent to rent a stall at Car Wash estate which they named Muzungus Pretzels.

Sylvia Bichanga prepares mandazis at her stall in Car Wash estate in Kisumu.
Sylvia Bichanga prepares mandazis at her stall in Car Wash estate in Kisumu.
Image: DANIEL OGENDO

Some of the food items they sell include, pizza pockets that go for Sh80, apple pies that go for Sh70 as well as mango pies, pretzels at Sh20 and Sh40 for tea.

When sales are low at the stall, Bichange can be found hawking along the streets of Kisumu to build her customer base.

She says she makes a profit of between Sh1,500 and Sh2,000 a day.

Sylvia said some women are harder to get along with and make purchases than men.

Some make discouraging statements like, "Why are you hawking and yet you people have money and you could even pay my rent!" little do they know what's actually on the ground."

"For others, they see it as a small way of having a taste of America because we sell American Street foods. The same way as we have samosas, smokies among others here in Kenya. So most people say, this is how I can experience America right in Car Wash," Sylvia explained.

She said only a few people question her and Ochieng's motives and think all foreigners have a lot of money.

Sylvia Bichanga prepares mandazis at her stall in Car Wash estate in Kisumu.
Sylvia Bichanga prepares mandazis at her stall in Car Wash estate in Kisumu.
Image: DANIEL OGENDO

Her friend Eve, lost about 24kg during the first three months from being hungry as life in Kenya proved to be hard.

She revealed that the main purpose of the business is for survival since her husband has no stable income. 

When asked about her coming to Kenya, she stated that it was through a Conservative Christian mission.

Her father was requested to come to Kenya and minister to a church in Kisumu.

This is where she met "the most handsome man I had ever set my eyes on early in 2019"

The two dated for two years before holding a wedding in April this year.

Her friend Ochieng' got married in July 2020.

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