Mary stands tall in a male dominated mobile phone repair

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Ms Mary Kinuthia

BY DAVID ONJILI

The average price of a Smartphone in the Kenyan market has halved from Sh23000 to around Sh9500 with the vigorous entry of Chinese models.

Infinix remains the most popular smart phone by sales to both the low and high-end mobile phone users. Models like Lenovo, Oppo and Tecno are fiercely fighting for a share of the local market. The sales of the gadgets too as observed by the sales from Jumia reveals that the market has continued to grow with over 200,000 gadgets sold via the online platform in 2017.

According to a report by Jumia Business Intelligence and GSMA Mobile titled: White Paper 2017, Trends from the Kenyan Smartphone and E-Commerce, almost 60% of Kenyans own smartphones. Three out of every five smartphones in the Kenyan market are Infinix brands which have almost similar features as the European models like high resolution cameras making the Chinese models a favourite with locals.

With such a mobile phone penetration so too comes demand for repair once spoiled. Since most of these phones have suspect warranties, the business of mobile phone repairs is a lucrative one.

Along Luthuli Avenue, is situated Sky Mall and here we find Mary Waithera Kinuthia. A female mobile phone repairer who stands tall in a male dominated field at her brother’s mobile phone stall. Waithera completed high school at Bridge Hill Nyahururu in 2012. While many youth wallow in seeking formal employment, Waithera got the interest from observing her brother repair phones and has never looked back ever.

She gained the expertise on repairing her phone as her brother’s apprentice and the fact that she is female draws both positive and negative attention. She admits that male phone users are very comfortable with her working on their gadgets while her female counterparts remain skeptical on her abilities. Although she finds this quite odd, she has been accustomed to it and never takes it personal anymore.

On an average day, she can repair up to five phones depending on the problems and needs. This includes changing screens, working on both the ear and mouthpieces to handling both the phones hardware and software. An activity she admits pays well. On a bad day, Waithera reveals, she makes around Sh2000 and an upwards of Sh5000 on a good day.

To supplement the phone repairs, Waithera is also, alongside his brother, engaged in selling mobile phone accessories.

Besides, they also take in individuals for training, especially young people interested in the mobile phone repair business. A month’s apprenticeship charges ranges between Sh15, 000 and Sh20, 000.

The key to success in this, she offers, is doing quality work because a good service to one client has often resulted in a chain of referrals.

For now, she sees herself fully as a mobile phone repairer and is comfortable with the proceeds as they are able to cater for her living expenses and also support her extended family. Whatever the future holds, for now she is very happy and advises other youth to join and not be choosy when seeking income.