When Francis Njoroge Ndichu decided to start a samosa making business for his daughter, he did not know that her disdain for it would necessitate the innovation that now sees the Ruiru based mason make a fortune.
“It was my daughter’s disdain for the samosa making business which I had pushed her into that ushered me to develop an alternative venture of prefabricating heating gadgets for this popular snack which has kept my family going for the past two years,” reminisced Ndichu.
Ndichu revealed that after his 20 year old daughter Joyce Wangui completed her secondary education at Komothai Girls’ High School in 2015 he decided to engage her in the samosa business to earn her a little pocket money.
“I wanted to make her generate her own money so that she stops depending on me for pocket money but she kept on complaining every morning we woke up to start the day’s business of selling this popular snack,” he says.
Ndichu says his daughter’s negative attitude towards the business “opened” his eyes and made him realize that she was not interested in the business at all.
“Samosa business is very popular in Ruiru and I thought my daughter would embrace it and pocket some good returns. But I was disappointed by her lukewarm attitude,” Ndichu observed of his daughter.
Instead of rubbishing the entire venture, he added, she came up with an alternative idea. “She told me that she had seen a gap in the samosa business chain which they could exploit to make money. She revealed that samosa sellers were interested in prefabricated warmers to keep their stuff warm instead of samosas”, said the mason.
He said his daughter actually delivered a buyer forcing him to use his masonry skills to prefabricate one for the customer.
“After the first sale, customers began trooping in making me sell my second warmer the third, the fourth and in one month I had sold 5 warmers to clients who were hawking samosas, smokies and eggs,” revealed the 56 year old mason.
He added that after realizing good returns from the samosa heaters business, he quit his mason job in a Ruiru based factory to fully venture into manufacturing the gadgets.
Since 2015 Ndichu’s heaters have been synonymous with school leavers who wanted to earn a living from sale of fast foods and snacks.
“People have no money and most would not mind eating light snacks so long as they are packaged in a clean environment,” he says while pointing out to KNA one of his clients who is ‘making a kill’ out of his samosa business along the busy Ruiru street.
He says, since then he has made over 300 heaters, all in different size. “Small heater sizes go for Sh6,000 while the medium ones fetch Sh7,500 and the big ones sell for Sh10,000,” he revealed.
Asked why he has not teamed up with others to access funding from government initiatives to venture into big time manufacturing of the popular heaters, he dismisses most of those “salivating” at his successful business venture as jokers who are not serious with their work.
“Some of these people don’t take their work seriously and in case I team up with them, they can land me in problems that can cause my property to be auctioned,” he says.
He says his business has helped youth establish businesses for themselves besides reducing unemployment levels in parts of Kiambu County. “If only I could get funding, I can teach others on how to make the warmers for local and export purposes as I believe we can get market out there,” he said.
He added, “I can impart my skills to others who could in turn use it to make better equipment which can drive the manufacturing sector a notch higher”.
Ndichu says the advantage with his warmers is that they are environmentally friendly. They are also divided into three compartments. The food tray is covered with aluminum and there is a compartment for live charcoal.
“This technology has attracted my customers as they are able to sell food to their buyers while still hot,” he notes. Ndichu has no patience with those complaining of joblessness adding that with as little as sh. 2,500, one can purchase a portable warmer carried along like a handbag with a capacity to hold over three dozen smokies.
He said his business had expanded to the point he was now purchasing his raw materials on wholesale basis instead of going for what can make a single warmer which he says was expensive.
“I buy rubber from a factory in Nairobi therefore reducing its price from 700 to 200 shillings and this is passed on to my customers in form of discounts,” he says.
He called on other entrepreneurs to venture into making umbrellas which he said can be used for protecting his products from the vagaries of the weather hence opening a new income line.