Getting to Know the Market

For the past couple of weeks I’ve had the pleasure of working with a group called Technology Village in a Western area of Nakuru called Kaptembwa. While Kaptembwa is not exactly the Silicon Valley of Kenya, there is innovation to be had around every corner. Everywhere you turn, there are people hard at work on their own businesses; operations that they’ve built out of their own sweat, capital and determination.

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Today I got to fully embrace this self-motivating spirit by helping one of my group members, James, get to know the market for the wholesale bakery business he wanted to re-start. James has run a successful bakery in the past, and already owns all of the necessary machines and knows the necessary connections. Unfortunately, he had to stop due to the tribal tensions present after the most recent presidential election. People from other tribes just stopped coming to his shop, and he quickly realized that he had to suspend his operation before he burned through all his savings. Lucky for James, his friend readily provided him with a position at a local textile factory, but he was still keen to re-start and operate his own business. He has been looking to re-open his bakery in a place called Kapkures, another neighbourhood of Nakuru, but one governed by a county government, not a municipal one. Operating in an area governed by a county government means that the licensing and rental costs are much lower than they would be in a municipal one. Kapkures is just across the border into county territory, and has no existing local bakeries to supply its grocers and townsfolk with traditional Kenyan maandazis and doughnut-like fried pastries.

James managed to find an opportunity and, like any good entrepreneur should, is looking to supply a viable business solution to this existing problem. Today James, a fellow Technology Village member named Benard and I set out to assess how Kapkures grocery stores are receiving their current maandazi and pastry supply to discover if, what James is willing to offer is a viable alternative. Currently, all the grocers are receiving their stock from out-of-town suppliers, who give them slightly greasy maandazi which are not as fresh as many of the grocers would like. James assures me that he can supply a much better quality maandazi , but we’ve yet to directly test the quality of his product against the competition. What we did learn today is this: the 6 grocers we’ve spoken to so far (and there are more grocers in Kapkures) sell 350 pastries a day collectively, plenty of demand for James to supply. He’s also looking to supply some other goods, such as cakes and scones to expand the market and bring some variety to the existing businesses. James has a really achievable idea so far, and I fully believe that he can carry his idea to fruition.

Written by Martin Quinn, 2013 Fellow

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