After completing her University Education, Elizabeth Momanyi left for the US to teach, and on coming back, she joined Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) as a Researcher for ten years and resigned. The 51 year old mother of six, opened a wholesale shop in Kawangware, Nairobi in 1992 where she specialized in food stuff. However, in 1997, thugs broke into her business premises and stole all that she had. She did not give up on doing business. She opened Montra Products that specializes in production of Peanut Butter and selling of Roasted Nuts, Peanut flour, Assorted Cardigans, Inner wears and Bags. Purity Njeru of the The African Executive talked to her on her business.
Purity: When did you open Montra Products?
Momanyi: In 2000 after a Ugandan friend taught me how to make peanut butter. While on a trip to South Africa, my husband bought me the processing machine at Ksh. 65,000. The machine makes up to 50 jars of peanut butter weighing 400 grams everyday.
Purity: What’s involved in making peanut butter?
Purity: Describe the process?
Momanyi: After one has the peanuts, one sorts and cleans them. This is followed by dipping them in salted water, which acts as a preservative and taster, drying them and pouring them in the machine. The machine grinds them into a thick liquid then we pack them in jars.
Purity: How long does the Peanut Butter last before it expires?
Momanyi: Up to six months.
Purity: Where do you get the peanuts from and at how much?
Momanyi: Downtown, a place called Nyamakima. A 25Kgs sack costs Ksh. 1500 and it can make about 80 to 90 jars.
Purity: What about the jars?
Momanyi: I get them from Industrial area and I do the labeling in Westlands.
Purity: How much does it cost you?
Momanyi: I spend about Kshs 65 on every jar that includes purchasing the jar, labeling and sealing it.
Purity: How much do you sell one jar at?
Momanyi: On retail I sell at Kshs 100 and on wholesale Kshs 75.
Purity: How do you market your products?
Momanyi: By word of mouth, through friends, or sometimes I distribute fliers and pamphlets.
Purity: How has been the demand for your products been so far?
Momanyi: I have not been able to meet it because the machine I currently have can only produce a maximum of 50 jars a day. Yet, in a day, I can have an order of upto 100 jars.
Purity: What are you doing about it?
Momanyi: I am planning to purchase a bigger machine that will cost me Ksh. 1.2 million. This machine will do all the processes right from sorting to packing, and can make over 300 jars in a day. Currently, I do the sorting, cleaning and packing manually.
Purity: What challenges do you face?
Momanyi: The biggest challenge is on employees. I usually train them to enable them to be self reliant but they give up on the way because they expect to earn without hard work. Capital is also a challenge.
Purity: How much capital have you invested?
Momanyi: Kshs. 350,000
Purity: What was your source of the capital?
Momanyi: I took a loan from the Kenya Women Trust Fund (KWFT) and I had also saved some money.
Purity: What’s the procedure for acquiring a loan at KWFT?
Momanyi: One must be in a group and members acts as security for each other. Minimum savings per month are Kshs.400, while the minimum borrowing is Kshs. 5,000. The first loan one can get is between Kshs.5,000 and Kshs.50,000. The payment differs with the amount of the loan. For instance, my loan, Ksh 350 000 will take 3 years to repay and I pay Ksh. 15,000 per month.
Purity: Are you able to take another loan to expand your business from KWFT?
Momanyi: Yes, but only after I have finished repaying the other one.
Purity: What qualifications do you look for in employees?
Momanyi: At least one must be a primary school graduate with good communication skills. I then train them on what is required to come up with peanut butter and marketing of the products.
Purity: What motivation do you give to your employees?
Momanyi: If they do a good job, I always increase their commission. I keep reminding them that for one to succeed, one has to be aggressive. One has to identify with one’s products, defend them and never get tired.
Purity: Who are your major customers?
Momanyi: Some supermarkets in Nairobi such as Safeway Supermarkets, Starmart, Millions, Vine centre; a number of selected shops and individuals.
Purity: How much do you sell your other products?
Momanyi: Children’s sweaters range from Kshs. 200 – 500, while those for adults range from Ksh. 800 and 1,400 depending on the size and style. The flour, which is from the peanuts, goes for Kshs.120 per Kg, and the conference bags differ depending on the material and quantity one needs.
Purity: How much profit do you make in a month?
Momanyi: About Kshs.40,000 after excluding all my expenses
Purity: Are you operating in Nairobi only?
Momanyi: No. I have customers who take my products to Nandi Hills which are around 60Km from Nairobi. Also, Safeway supermarkets have other branches based in other towns other than Nairobi. And, when I am traveling upcountry (Western Kenya), I carry some to sell to the shops near home.
Purity: Do you regret having quit your job to start this business?
Momanyi: No. It’s been my ambition to be an entrepreneur
Purity: Any word for upcoming entrepreneurs?
Momanyi: Keep working hard and never give up. You shall achieve your goal.