Thursday, June 8, 2023

Florence Mogere: How I Started Frozen Vegetables Business After Being Fired

For several years, Florence Mogere worked as an auditor in one of the biggest construction companies in East Africa.

She never imagined that one day she would wake up to find herself jobless. But every dark cloud has a silver lining, and the layoff sounded like an alarm that awakened her from just an employee to a successful entrepreneur.

While in her career, Florence had started selling vegetables that she sourced from her farm in Ngong. At some point, she started supplying pre-cooked and frozen vegetables to her colleagues who had the challenge of preparing them.

After the layoff, she never thought of seeking employment, so she decided to turn her side hustle into her main job, which currently runs under her company name Nyota Limited, and brand name, Frozen Isle.

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“When you’re employed, you never know when you will be relieved of your job. I was lucky that I had already started working on this project,” said Florence.

Nyota Limited is a food processing company that specializes in frozen vegetables, specialty tomato lines, and pre-cooked frozen legumes.

The journey was tough for her as she was used to getting a decent salary. She also did not have the capital to grow her business, so she had to look for ways to raise funds.

“I didn’t have capital. I started with my two nannies and our initial raw materials being two sacks of beans costing Sh10,000, a deep freezer, big cooking pans, gas cylinders from my house, and vegetables from my farm. It felt like being thrown into deep waters,” she recalled.

Florence also struggled to get a formal retail market and stayed for more than a year before her products appeared on supermarket shelves. This did not discourage her, and she was so determined to make it.

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“I had sold the idea to myself, bought it, and was just living it; it was this or nothing; I had planned to commit three years non-stop to this project,” added Florence.

Loans and financial support from her family helped her stay afloat. She also negotiated short credit periods with retailers, which helped her to pay her raw material suppliers on time.

Despite experiencing many challenges in her venture, she never looked back and firmly sticked to her goals which she is already enjoying the fruits.

Her company has grown from processing 100 kilos of produce per day to 15,000 to 20,000 kilos of fresh produce monthly. The produce is mainly supplied by small-scale farmers.

Nyota Limited has currently employed 18 full-time staff and 14 temporary workers. The company is seeking to expand to other local and regional markets.

“Our growth has been organic, and we’ve captured the formal retail market without marketing. All we did was more product placement, and we are looking at scaling it up and capturing more market,” she added.

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