When she started selling milk, Peninah Maina had no idea she was setting herself on the road to establishing a small factory.
She began from humble beginning selling two litres of milk daily. The volumes have not only shot up to 250 litres daily, her firm makes an assortment of yoghurt flavours.
Ms Maina set up Kiwama Limited in 2003 when she realised her business had a bright future.
“I began with two litres which I sold to neighbours and friends,” says Mrs Maina.
Her firm now produces various flavours of yoghurt, under the Nina’s brand name. The products are now not only sold in the home town of Nanyuki but also in the neighbouring towns of Meru, Karatina, Nyeri, Naro moru, Isiolo and Nkubu.
In a good month they make Sh1 million in sales.
“We intend now to move to supermarkets in Nyahururu,”says Mrs Maina.
In 2003 when the now defunct Kenya Cooperatives Creameries (KCC) closed, Mrs Maina who had left her job at Fairmont hotel in Nanyuki to take care of her children, did not have a market for her milk from the four cows she owned.
“I resigned from my job as it was demanding and we had small children. We bought some cows and I would take the milk to KCC,” she says.
When the State-owned milk processor was shut down, she lacked a market for her milk.
“We did not know what to do with the milk. It was difficult for us to even dispose the cows even if we wanted to,” she says.
KCC was later revived, but as New KCC.
She started engaging in value addition when the market for milk disappeared.
A training by a lecturer from Egerton University sharpened her skills on value addition. This helped her to realise that her business had a huge potential. She was now ready to take the enterprise to a new level.
There was however one problem related to packaging. She needed a minimum of Sh5 million to get packaging materials.
“That threw us off balance but my dream did not go away. I interacted with people during forums and shows who advised me to pack it in small pouches,” says Mrs Maina.
She packed her products in small portions which she sold for between Sh10 and Sh20, and hawked them in Nanyuki town.
“Hawking was really tiring but it was rewarding as I got customers in droves,” she says.
The business did so well that in 2005, her husband Mr Maina who is a retired banker, joined her.
In 2007 from their savings, they bought yoghurt processing machinery and set up a factory in a small room in their dairy farm.
“We bought some machines including a 250-litre pasteurizer. The equipment and machine costs almost a million shillings,” says Mr Maina.
They also started zero-grazing 18 cows. This has increased their milk production to an average of 200 litres daily. They have five employees who are graduates from the Dairy Training institute in Naivasha. They also four temporary workers.
“Our business focuses on quality and has grown due to good planning,” says Mrs Maina.
One of their secrets to success is keeping healthy cows and growing enough fodder and silage.