Enterprise

Youth group turns raw milk into tidy, sweet yoghurt cash

umoja

Umoja Youth Group chairman Splinter Buluku (left) and members serve customers in Kilifi. PHOTO | POOL

Summary

  • Umoja Youth Group, which was initially comprised 13 members, has its operations in Kilifi County.
  • The group has been doing well despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Initially, they used to process more than 200 litres a day.
  • However, due to the negative impact of Covid-19, he says the output dropped to 100 litres.
  • The youth group processes various dairy products that include yoghurt, sour milk and pasteurised milk.

What started as a chama (business club), has turned out to be a thriving enterprise for a youth group that buys and does value addition on milk, making various products.

Umoja Youth Group, which was initially comprised 13 members, has its operations in Kilifi County. The group has been doing well despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The group started as a chama, which later grew, and was absorbed by Equity Bank to support savings and provide loans to the group and individual members too,” says Umoja Youth Group chairman Splinter Buluku.

According to him, the group used to sell raw milk, supplied using bicycles, until Kenya Dairy Board (KDB) termed the practice a health hazard and against the law.

Mr Buluku says they wrote to Pwani University where they were absorbed into the incubation centre. At the centre, they could process their collected milk and do value-addition.

He says the group, which was formed in 2012, has 13 members, out of whom, eight are active.

The 24-year-old Buluku, who is a degree holder, says that their main aim was to create employment for the youth.

“We source milk from co-operatives and farmers. We do not keep cows,” he says, adding that they started with a capital of Sh10,000.

Initially, they used to process more than 200 litres a day. However, due to the negative impact of Covid-19, he says the output dropped to 100 litres.

The youth group processes various dairy products that include yoghurt, sour milk and pasteurised milk.

“We have six machines,” adds Mr Buluku.

He says they purchase milk at prices ranging from Sh30 to Sh55 per litre, depending on the source.

Mr Buluku says they are in the process of acquiring Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) approvals, albeit he laments that the red tape is an uphill task.

“Our main challenge is access to highly skilled dairy technicians, long process of acquiring certification, and a lack of enough funds to establish powerful distribution channels,” he laments.

Mr Buluku reveals that most of their products are sold to Pwani University students and staff, and at their shop in Kilifi town.

They make the products under the brands Zowerani and Nanas.

They sell the products at various prices, depending on the sizes of the packets or the containers which are used in packaging them. They sell a 500ml sour milk (mala) at Sh70, while a 500ml yoghurt sells at Sh80.

The group also sells a 250ml yoghurt at Sh40, a 150ml yoghurt at Sh30, whereas fresh pasteurised milk is sold by the group at Sh70 per litre. They have since acquired a milk dispenser, which will enable them to sell milk for as low as Sh10. “We source our packaging materials from Nairobi and they cost up to Sh9 each,” says Mr Buluku.

He adds that the group would like to engage farmers and bring them on board, for them to be able to supply the group with quality milk for processing.

“We aim to make sure that all milk in Kilifi undergoes processing before use.

“Our main objective is to provide growth platforms and employment for the youth, through sustainable agriculture and value addition,” he says, adding that eight group members are in direct employment in their premises.

Mr Buluku urges the youth to utilise whatever is within their reach, to create a better version of themselves.

The chairperson reveals that at the moment, during the Covid-19 pandemic, their profit per month stands at Sh30,000.