Focus on the basics, and the money will come in, says food entrepreneur

Kaburu Muguika founded Prosoya Kenya three years ago. The company manufactures low cost nutritional foods in Nairobi, such as Ndungo Ujilala, a nutritional porridge that has a long shelf-life, does not need to be cooked and is prepared by simply adding water.

Kaburu Muguika, founder and CEO of Prosoya Kenya

Kaburu Muguika, founder and CEO of Prosoya Kenya

Originally the product was sold to relief agencies, hospitals and schools to cater to the needs of people living below the poverty line. However, the company is now entering the retail market for the first time and, according to Muguika, cannot keep up with demand.

Since its establishment in 2010, Prosoya Kenya has doubled its turnover every year and has grown to employ 66 staff members. The company also works with local farming cooperatives and traders who supply Prosoya Kenya with maize, sorghum, soya beans and finger millet.

While Muguika said he has plans to expand the company into East and Central Africa, the business first needs to increase its productivity to keep up with local demand in Kenya. However, Muguika said he is considering putting up a factory in Rwanda, a move he views to be strategic considering the country’s location and enabling business environment.

He added that malnutrition is high in Africa and there is a strong need for cheap, healthy food solutions. Muguika is currently working with Dutch-based NGO BiD Network to attract finance to grow capacity and expand across Africa.

How to attract finance

“An entrepreneur is someone who is willing to take the risk of adding value to a process, adding value to a product, adding value to a service… it’s a risk because you are spending resources on adding value,” said Muguika.

But in order to be successful, he said entrepreneurs need to be experts in three things. “The first one is to know your product. You are selling your product to people and you must know what you are selling.”

Secondly, entrepreneurs need to know and understand their customers, whether they are the customers who buy the product from a retail outlet, or the retailers who buy the product from the entrepreneur. “Those are actually your stakeholders,” he highlighted.

“Number three, take care of your stakeholders, and among your stakeholders are your members of staff. You should take care of your staff because they are your business… As long as you take care of those three groups – your products, your customers and your staff – you are home and dry.”

He added that while many entrepreneurs think finance is the most important thing for business, he disagrees.

“There is a saying that we have in Africa which is: if you want the bees to come into your hive, you must scent the hive. The three factors which I have spoken about are what will scent your business, and the money will come in… So money is not the most important thing. I think most entrepreneurs keep whining that they don’t have money but the most important things are your products, your customers, your staff, and that [will bring the money in].”