“An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. If people started following this proverb strictly, Muhammad Anwar and his 30-memebr entrepreneur family would go broke. For much of their business comes from the doctors. Selling water and milk of young green coconuts is the small but lucrative family business of 20-year-old Anwar, who lives at the impoverished neighbourhood of Samoo Goth in Malir Town.
“Most of our customers are patients, mainly, suffering from bones related diseases,” says the businessman while sitting beside his pushcart roughly roofed over with an untidy piece of cloth fastened atop four thin thus badly shaking bamboos at Soldier Bazaar.
Anwar’s brothers, Abdul Ghafoor, Gulzar and Waqas, also sell the nutritious “Narial Pani” and “Malai”, local names for coconut water and coconut milk, at some other place in Soldier Bazaar and Rangoonwala Hall of Doraji, also on pushcarts.
“My father also used to sell coconuts along with other fruits and vegetables,” Anwar told Business Recorder. Achar, who uses only the first name, never had done a job and always preferred his own business.
The entrepreneurship seemed to have fetched the Sindhi-speaking vendor from Mirpur Sakro enough money to buy at Samoo Goth a house so big that it could accommodate a huge 30-member family. “Our father has retired now,” says Anwar, who could not study beyond fifth grade. Anwar said the coconut water was good not only for healing bones related diseases but it also strengthen the hard whitish human tissues. “The people who pluck coconuts in our goth climb over the tall coconut trees in seconds and that too without a rope,” he boasted.
The milk of the tropical seed, which comes from the grated meat of a brown coconut, works if someone is short of white cells in his or her blood, said the vendor referring to some unconfirmed doctoral advice.
“I daily buy at least five coconuts from him for my doctor’s prescription,” said a customer, Ahmed Karim. A salesman at M.M Foam Center at Patel Para neighbourhood, the 73-year-old, however, would not tell for what disease he was using the fruit.
“It’s incommunicable,” said Karim while paying Rs 350 to Anwar for five coconuts.
How is this coconut business doing? “It’s good and fetches each of us Rs 300-400 a day, enough for a respectable livelihood,” said Waqas, 18, Anwar’s younger sibling.
Buying each of the young “Khopras” at Rs 40-50 from a wholesaler, the vendors retail it at a price ranging from, what Waqas said, Rs 50 to Rs 100, depending on size of the piece.
“In summer the prices go higher for shortage of supplies,” interrupted Anwar, who estimated his family’s daily expenditure at Rs 3000.
If this figure is not exaggerated, selling coconuts appears quite a lucrative business for it is financially catering to a big family which’s annual expenditures accumulates to Rs 1.08 million.