Kenyan inventor brings cooking gas meter to market
Posted Monday, July 9 2012 at 20:00
The days when one’s cooking gas ran out abruptly leaving uncooked food on the burners are numbered, thanks to Gilbert Maina.
Gilbert, 29, has successfully developed a regulator gauge to measure just how much gas one has used and how much more is left. That means one can estimate when the gas will run out and plan to replenish accordingly. His gadget is known as the Gasimita and it is the first of its kind in the Kenya market.
“I consider myself a graduate of the NextBigThing,” says Gilbert. “Without the Business Daily this idea would be lying somewhere in a shelf.”
He was referring to the initiative by this newspaper through which entrepreneurs with the best business ideas were selected, trained and sponsored through a mentorship programme that also introduced them to potential financiers.
Gilbert was among the finalists in October, 2011 and less than a year after the programme ended, he has turned his idea into viable product. Gilbert, who was born in Ongata Rongai, attended Nakuru high school and also holds a Career Award in business from Cambridge, the equivalent of a higher diploma.
A month ago, he imported the first batch of 1,000 Gasimitas from China, which retail at Sh1,500 each. He has sold about 250 gadgets “without even much aggressive marketing” as he says.
Most of the buyers were introduced to the gadget by friends or learnt about it on Facebook. How, then, does the gasometa work?
Gilbert says that the gadget is fixed onto the gas valve. As the gas flows through it when in use, it indicates how likely it is to be exhausted.
“When it indicates reserve one, it has one or two weeks and if it indicates empty then you have a day or two depending on the frequency of usage,” he said.
Already, he is in talks with a fuel marketing company to explore the possibility of selling its LPG cylinders alongside the gasometa.
According to Gilbert, the idea of designing the gasometa started in 2009 when his gas ran out in the middle of the night while he was preparing ugali. There was nothing he could do at that time of the night, he and his friend slept hungry.
“It was at that time of the month when you don’t have much. We wished there was a way to know before it got finished,” he recalls.
He got the urge to find a solution and started searching in the Kenya market. He found none. That was when he decided to offer the solution himself, and conduct his research on the internet. But even when he came up with the idea, he decided to rest it and concentrated on his other businesses until he heard that the Business Daily was looking for innovative ideas.
Maina said he first had reservation about entering the NextBigThing competition. “I thought if I expose my idea, guys may steal it,” he says. “My girlfriend insisted and I said okay, let’s give it a try and the rest is history,” says Gilbert.
He was not surprised when he was selected to participate in the competition, which gave him more confidence to seriously push the idea. “At the competition it attracted a lot of attention and that gave me confidence,” he says.