Kenya’s manufacturing sector is one of the leading contributors to the country’s economy, recording Kes876 billion in product output in 2021, translating to seven percent of the country’s overall GDP.
The significance of the sector has come under sharp focus in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic where global supply chain bottlenecks and the ongoing war in Ukraine have led to scarcity in various goods with the price of many commodities going up.
In this backdrop, manufacturers and distributors have been pushed to explore alternative business models to reduce operational costs and improve efficiencies in their supply chain.
Gideon Simiyu, founder of Vinywaji chap chap, a smart beverages serving machine, is one of the entrepreneurs developing innovative solutions that address key pain points experienced by distributors.
“Vinywaji chap chap is a largescale beverage serving machine that aims to reduce the size of queues in organisations such as hotels and events when serving beverages such as tea, coffee, or juice,” Mr. Simiyu explains.
Mr Simiyu, a 21-year-old Computer Science student at Strathmore University developed Vinywaji chap chap based on Pascal’s Principle as a solution to accelerate how beverages are served to hundreds of people.
He developed Vinywaji chap chap while studying at the M-PESA Foundation Academy and later pitched the idea in the KCB Lion’s Den entrepreneur competition where it emerged the best nationally in the business category.
The idea came to him out of a bad experience in high school of queing for tea despite having only a 10-minute brenak.
“Unfortunately, I was delayed and one of the teachers canned me hard and from the awful experience, the thought of queueing to serve beverages no longer sat well with me,” he said.
According to a recent study by GeoPoll, the size of Kenya’s economy relative to others in East Africa and increased urbanisation ranks the country as one of the leading economies in the continent.
“Kenya is currently the largest economy in East and Central Africa and urbanization in the country is rapidly occurring,” the report said. “These two factors sitting side-by-side show promise for the consumer goods industry because consumers with increasing spending power are concentrating in urban centers where distribution channels are the easiest to penetrate and maintain.”
The study looked at the most common goods purchased by a sample of 300 consumers over a 30-day period. Aside from toiletries and food, beverages like soda, bottled water and juice ranked highly among respondents as key monthly purchases.
“Overall, quality was by far the most important aspect that influenced the respondent’s purchase decisions, followed by brand, and then price,” explains the study. “For every category other than beverages, quality significantly outweighed brand or price by about 20 per cent.”
Simiyu says the target market for Vinywaji chap chap includes restaurants, cafe’s, offices and large event spaces that seek to resolve the challenge of long queues that often put off many consumers.
At the moment, Simiyu is working closely with Chandaria Industries to scale and develop the beverage dispensing machine at a larger scale.
“While at the M-PESA Academy I declined almost 20 scholarships to leave Kenya for studies abroad to live my dream of becoming an entrepreneur in this country,” he explains. “This is my dream by the time I graduate in 2024.”
The M-PESA Academy offers full scholarships to economically disadvantaged students, who would otherwise not be in a position to pursue their education after their Kenya Certificate of Primary Education, (KCPE).