A loaf of bread is considered a luxury in most low income households in Kenya. A 26 year old entrepreneur, Jerry Karanja is reversing this assumption while making profits by baking low cost breads that retails at Sh30.
He has given residents of informal settlements in Nairobi an alternative cheap and quick food. Other brands retails at Sh50.
Karanja’s bakery is among hundreds of Nairobi’s Kariobangi Light Industries that are targeting low income earners with affordable low quality products.
Using simple ingredients like wheat flour, yeast, salt sugar and milk, the enterprising father of two pockets at least Ssh20,000 in profits from 2000 loaves of breads his bakery produces in a day. “I use improvised energy saving ovens and unbranded light nylon bags to cut on expenditure cost,” explained Karanja.
After graduating with a diploma in Business Management from Kenya Institute of Management in 2008, Karanja, who confesses that his childhood crave for breads once saw him spend a day in a police cell for snatching a bread from a distributor, volunteered to work as a cake baker in his uncles’ shop for one year.
“This is where I learnt the trade that is my joy today,” said the Managing Director of Karanja Bakery Limited.
Currently the company distributes breads to six informal settlements in Nairobi which includes, Kibera, Mathare, Mukuru, Baba Dogo, Kayole and Dandora.
A part from providing affordable ready made food to thousands of households in the city, the company has also offered employment to 120 youths who work as bakers, packers and distributors.
” My facility is training tens of youths every year with over 70 former students starting their own business. ”This has helped me meet the high demand in the market,” explained Karanja
Karanja teamed up with his six estate mates to form a youth group in a bid to apply for theoffered by the government in 2010. They succeeded to secure Sh70,000 which they shared equally.
” I borrowed extra sh15000 from my uncle who helped me buy a Sh8500 bread baking oven and ingredients. Am happy that my idea is positively changing the society,” he said.
Tom Kilaka, a carpenter from Huruma Estate has all praises for the ‘Ng’ang’u’ as the bread is commonly referred to by Nairobi East residents.
He explained that the bread usually sustains his family especially during hard economic times. With only Sh100, Kilaka explained that two loaves of bread, Sh5 tea bag and an eighth kilogramme of sugar that retails at sh12, comfortably takes care of the supper for his two daughters and wife.
Another resident, Rose Kemunto said that the bread provides a quick and affordable lunch for her school going son.
Janet Njenga, who owns a small bakery in Mathare North after obtaining informal training at Karanja’s bakery in 2012 is now distributing ng’ang’u to almost all shops in her estate.
She told Dhahabu Kenya that the business has not only empowered her financially but also helped her change her immoral past.
” I could not stand the reality of not securing a job three years after graduating with a diploma in Information Technology from Kenya College of Accountancy hence resorted to alcohol and other drugs for comfort,” explained Njenga.
Now a mother of three, a seemingly happy IT graduate pockets at least sh1600 in profit daily from her business.
Although breads baked by his company have been touted as poor quality just like other products manufactured by Kariobangi Light Industries, no health risk has been reported as good hygiene is given the first priority.
His affordable bread was featured in a Kalasha award winning film, ‘A slice of hope’ in 2009.