Polucon Services, a testing, inspection, and verification company based in Nairobi, was born out of convenience, determination, and patriotism.
The company, which currently employs around 100 employees, was founded by Dominic Mureithi Mathenge in 1990 but remained unoperational for seven years due to a lack of capital.
“We founded the company in 1990 but had to raise funds until 1997, when we began operations. In those days, no bank could lend us money because they did not understand our business and we didn’t have collateral,” said Mureithi in a recent interview.
His urge to start a company was inspired by his past experience in Europe, where he was working. While in Europe, he realized Europeans create jobs for themselves in nearly all sectors.
As such, he wanted to create employment for Kenyans as the food testing industry was dominated by foreigners.
“I realized that in Europe, they create their own jobs, especially for the scientists because scientists control many things in the world, be it agriculture, manufacturing, production, and development,”
“As Africans, we are our biggest enemies because we don’t believe in our local capacity. We prefer foreign companies. Why should we create opportunities for people in other countries? We need to believe in our own capacity and professionals,” he added.
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After realizing no bank would lend him money, he decided to food on his own. He purposed to buy things that would impact his business and shunned those that brought zero value to his business.
Instead of buying a new bed for his small apartment, he bought a desk, chair, computer, and fax machine.
He noted that planning is the most important thing for one to thrive in entrepreneurship. According to him, an entrepreneur who is trustworthy and ethical has the highest chance of succeeding.
“Clients want to feel you are more like a trusted friend than just a business person.”
His business which focuses on checking the quality and safety of drinking water and food safety analysis, was not smooth sailing, given he was competing with multinationals.
To ease things, Mureithi sought for ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems certification towards the end of the 90s to be at par with top companies in the world.
His business grew with time, serving customers across the region. Polucon Services was in 2022 ranked among the Top 100 fast-growing mid-sized companies by KPMG.
“We now export our services by receiving samples from all over Africa. We now serve a broad spectrum of other clients that includes industry regulators, agents, and foreign firms,” he says.
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Their turnover grew from between Sh50 million to Sh1 billion, according to Business Daily.
Mureithi’s journey highlights that starters don’t need a lot of money to become great, as they can create funds as they grow.