Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Patrick Wainaina: Meet Kiambu millionaire behind Jungle Nuts company

Patrick Wainaina, also known as ‘Wa Jungle’, is a former Member of Parliament for Thika Town and a former candidate for the Kiambu Gubernatorial seat in the 2022 general election.

He is also the founder of Jungle Nuts Company, which is among the top  companies that process macadamia nuts, cashew nuts, and peanuts.

Wainaina’s ability to achieve success can be attributed to his strong work ethic, positive outlook, and unwavering belief in himself, all of which have enabled him to transform his circumstances and establish a prosperous enterprise.

Wainaina’s journey to entrepreneurship began at the Kenya Nuts Company, where he worked as an engineer in 1996. He was trained as a mechanical engineer, and his boss was a strict Japanese who taught him a great deal about what the future expected of him.

After resigning from Kenya Nuts, Wainaina went to the United States to study marketing, convinced that the trip would unlock his success.

However, life in the US did not go as planned, and Wainaina found himself chasing a success that seemed beyond his grasp. After completing his studies, he struggled to find employment and eventually took a job nursing the elderly to make ends meet.

Despite working for years, he had not managed to save any enviable amount of money. Feeling homesick and with nothing to show for his efforts, he returned to Kenya with only Sh. 300,000 in savings.

Before leaving for the US, Wainaina had studied the macadamia market and seen its potential. He had made contacts with numerous businessmen involved in the trade, and this is where he wanted to work.

However, upon his return to Kenya, he found himself short of capital to finance his dream. His efforts to secure funding from financial institutions were unsuccessful, as the banks required a guarantor, and no one was willing to take on the liability.

Broke and depressed, Wainaina shut down his business in 2002 and looked for employment. He got a job at Safaricom as a manager, where he joined the company’s SACCO and saved Sh. 20,000 per month.

After five years, he felt his savings had translated to a substantial amount that would enable him to reignite his business. He approached his friends, and together they formed a group that enabled him to get a loan from micro-finance institution Faulu Kenya.

Wainaina thus embarked on sourcing for macadamia nuts from the central part of Kenya. He had created a network while abroad and was more than willing to get into successful entrepreneurship.

His first client was a business mogul whom he had met while abroad, who gave him a deal worth Sh. 400,000. The deal gave his company a new impetus globally, and what followed was immense referrals and endorsements that changed his life completely.

Wainaina’s Jungle Nuts sources macadamia nuts from small-scale farmers in Kiambu, Muranga, Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Embu, Meru, Kitale, Bungoma, and Taita.

The company exports its products to the US, China, and the UK, and none of its products are consumed locally. Wainaina says that globally, there are less than three hundred serious nut processors, making the business lucrative due to the lack of competition.

Wainaina is an admirer of former Safaricom chief executive Michael Joseph and says that a good reputation in the market is the cornerstone of any business.

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He advises businessmen to study the market and understand what the consumer needs. “We have taken keen measures to have a respected brand both in Kenya and across the world. Both investors and customers are keen on associating with companies that have good repute,” he says.

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