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How an Agripreneur turned University Research work to Big Business

  • By Tobias Meso
  • April 6, 2022
  • 0 Comment
  • 374 Views

Dorah Mumanyi is the founder of the Nutritious Agriculture Network (NAN) and leads the I-pop Africa initiative. I-pop Africa reclaims the sovereignty of the lost traditional and indigenous grains, including sorghum, millet, and amaranth. These are grains that have often been forgotten and underutilized. They are mostly used at household level for making ugali , porridge and the likes. I-pop Africa saw the need to diversify and give these grains a new utility. “ I-pop resulted from my master’s research work when I was trying to figure out what I should do with sorghum. In the research, I came across a study that says you can pop sorghum. Two years later a popping technology came to Kenya from Japan and I never hesitated to get along with it, “ said Dorah.

I-pop Africa produces a range of snack products like mixed grains, millet, red sorghum and white sorghum. “We sell our products at a profit and look at plowing back the profit into the company to be sustainable. We source from indigenous grains in the country making it cheaper for us,” added Dorah. Ipop Africa diversifies the snacks in the markets with a focus on snacks made in Kenya which are not high in sugars, I-pop is bringing a healthy way of snacking in that the consumers do not have to worry about any health factors.

The company just as other enterprises had its fair share of challenges when it started. “As every other entrepreneur while you are starting, capital has always been a challenge. I was online everyday trying to see where I could get grants for my start-up company. My greatest concern was acquiring the popping machine. That is how I came through a call for applications from KCIC . I applied and I was among the lucky ones to be selected,” said Dorah. KCIC has supported the company through acquiring a popping machine. This will help them automate their processing and increase their output hence increase their income. They have also received mentorship and information around taxation, risk management, and finance management, shaping the business.

From the support, I-pop Africa has been able to automate the production process. This has helped to increase production, efficiency and leveled down the production cost. The company has also been able to keep up with regulations like taxation from the mentorship it received. “We are following up with regulations and therefore we are going to be in line with government’s requirements which will smoothen our runnings,” added Dorah.

The company faces a couple of challenges like getting the KEBS certification as they need it to enter the mainstream market. The enterprise needs a lot of customer sensitization and diversifying the marketing channels to reach a big market. The company plans to produce another range of products from other cereals and utilize other food technologies that help make nutritious foods. “ We are looking at bio-fortified cereals high in specific nutrients. We want to produce snack bars and we are glad KCIC has acquired a machine for us to produce snack bars,” said Dorah.