Chapros: The Kenyan Burritos

Martin is a student at Egerton University pursuing a degree in Marketing. He joined Balloon during the June 2014 programme to learn innovative ways to start a business selling laptops. He had originally signed up for funding but unfortunately wasn’t able to be funded as his idea needed more testing.

During the September programme he had an opportunity to return to try again and that’s when we met him. He had several ideas and like the previous fellows we were awed by how viable the laptop business was. From the lessons learnt from his first attempt it was recommended to us that we had to do more testing on the idea and that’s what we wanted to do.

As we got to know each other during the training period, we talked about different business ideas. Martin talked about an innovative healthy and affordable food product he thought of making and how convenient it would be for students.

“Students want convenient, affordable and easily transportable food you can eat on the move” Martin kept saying and that’s when we decided to focus on healthy fast food for students.

After going through the Balloon Enterprise curriculum training, talking to Balloon alumni in the food and catering industry, talking to members of the community, students and Martin’s friends, we worked towards our first testing. It was a bit challenging with operation challenges (organisation, timing and how to keep the food warm). But we all got into the kitchen armed with knives and rolling pins and Martin, his friends and us worked together to produce 30 Chapros. We then went where we had observed had a lot of student traffic, got talking to students, handing out questionnaires and coupons to people who bought the Chapros and one hour later we had sold 30 Chapros and made a modest profit, but hey, Chapros were officially in the market.

Martin & Chapros

from left to right – Martin, a happy customer and Sam (one of the entrepreneurs from 2GO wholesome foods)

A week later we were back, same time, same place with more Chapros, this time around Tobi (an ICS Entrepreneur team leader from the UK) and I showed up as Martin and his friend Peter erected a tent and set up the table ready to sell. They were on time, organised and had the Chapros in food warmers. We stood at a distance watching them work and in a couple of minutes more Chapros were sold.

Martin has been my inspiration; he was not sure whether students would embrace the concept of Kenyan burritos (Chapros), and as a marketing strategy he offered a free Chapro to return customers who came with 3 friends who were going to buy Chapros. From the lessons learnt after the first testing, Martin rolled up the Chapro with ingredients customers wanted and in the queues stood students, Boda boda (motorcycle) drivers, people working in office buildings and those on the move, asking for Chapros, asking to answer the questionnaire and willing to take a coupon.

During the second testing, Sam one of the 2GO guys (who previously worked with and received funding through the Balloon programme) passed by. On his way back he brought a friend – one more customer for Martin! They had a quick chat and he was quite positive and encouraging, giving Martin the drive he needed; now Martin knows Nakuru can embrace an innovative product – 2Go have done it and he can also do it.

With the pitching event coming soon, he has this new motivation and drive we have never seen before; scouting for business partners, marketing Chapros and connecting with customers.

Written by Lollita Koech, ICS Entrepreneur Team Leader