Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Christine Mutua: What I’ve learned from saving money via M-Pesa vs MMF

Christine Mutua is the founder and managing director of Amazing Pure, a hospitality business that specializes in breakfast meals and products.

I started Amazing Pure in August 2015 as a peanut butter product trial. I went to the market, bought some groundnuts, processed and packaged it into jars of branded peanut butter. When I was starting, I had reasoned that if I didn’t find customers, we would just consume the peanut butter at home. Luckily, the 10 jars of 800 grams each that I had made sold in about a week at between Sh. 150 and Sh. 180.

Today, a jar is sold at Sh. 350. The majority of the customers I sold to started asking if I had other products such as honey. This gave me a new idea. I could enlarge my product offerings to include honey which had great demand but low supply. I felt that I could gain market traction quickly if I could access genuine honey with the market proliferated with fake honey.

I started sourcing honey from Baringo County. Within a few months, I built my own Apiaries at Makueni and Kitui counties which currently have a total of 80 hives.

Sales for my honey and peanut business tanked when 2020 pandemic struck. This forced me to think of other products I could include in my business to shore up revenues. I enrolled for baking classes at a bakery known as Aggy’s Bakeries and learned how to make cakes and pastries from croissants and meat pies to bread.

I also enrolled in another class where I learned how to make yoghurt, ice-cream, and milk shake. This helped me to introduce and sell well processed bakery products in addition to peanut butter and honey.

Price fluctuation in raw materials and cost of production is a big challenge in my kind of business. This is mainly because I cannot keep on changing item prices every month. To mitigate losses, I maintain a specific price that will cushion the business during inflationary periods.

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Also, when I started, I was afraid of marketing because I was not sure that my products would be accepted in the market.  Getting a stable base of clients for my honey was another challenge. There were months I could sell just a kilo.

I was not keen on following up payments when I started. I had clients who could re-order without first clearing their old bills. I was afraid of being seen as pushy by clients and would supply them and hang on to hope that they would pay up. This nearly collapsed my business. I had to constantly go back to my pocket to keep the business running.

I save through the CIC Money Market fund. Previously, I tried saving cash in my M-Pesa account, but found that it was very easily accessible for unplanned usage. Although I can still access my savings in the money market fund, the lack of instant access and the higher compounded interest earned have been adequate incentives to keep saving this way.

Before starting my business, I was an administrator at an insurance agency. Employment gave me a safe place as I knew that I would earn money every end-month. With entrepreneurship, I have learned that this kind of surety is not guaranteed.

There will be high seasons and really low seasons. In the long run though, I have been happier and more content with entrepreneurship.

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