Kenneth Giitu left formal employment in 1998 with dreams of becoming one of Kenya’s preeminent entrepreneurs.
He had worked for a prestigious chemical manufacturing firm for almost a decade before he decided to become self-employed.
He was convinced that the technical skills he had acquired from the blue chip firm would propel him to become a successful businessman.
Giitu started a small cottage industry of manufacturing chemicals required for the health-care industry.
He entered into the business of supplying Calamine lotion, surgical spirits, antiseptics, sanitizers and peroxide to the local market.
The businessman depended on raw materials sourced locally in order to make his products. However, he was unable to compete with established manufacturers who benefited from economies of scales.
“Because I bought products in small quantities I couldn’t get bulk discount and hence my business remained unprofitable,” Giitu told Xinhua in Nairobi in an interview on the sidelines of a briefing of the Kenyan business delegation which is to depart for China to attend the China Import and Export Fair, or 120th Canton Fair to be held in south China’s Guangzhou from Oct. 15.
He recalled he struggled to raise money to finance his first business trip to China over ten years ago but his efforts have paid off handsomely.
“Since I discovered Chinese technology, my business has expanded over 20 times in volume,” he said.
His business now employs over 60 staff up from two before he began sourcing raw material from the Asian nation. “I am now able to access world class technology at half the cost of sourcing from Europe,” he added.
Giitu, who is the CEO of Diarim Enterprises, travels to China at least four times a year to source for raw materials straight from Chinese manufacturers.
He told Xinhua on Saturday that Chinese technology in the health-care is now comparable to that of U.S. or Europe. “In addition, the Chinese firms tend to be more responsive to customer needs,” he added.
The entrepreneur’s latest venture is a water producing facility. In 2012, he purchased water bottling equipment from China that uses reverse osmosis to produce mineral water.
“Many people advised me against buying machinery from China because of the mistaken belief that Chinese goods are of low quality,” he revealed.
“However, ever since I installed the machine it has never failed even once,” he added.
His water products have achieved the Kenya Bureau of Standards Diamond Mark of Quality and currently enjoys a huge market share in Kenya’s crowded mineral water industry.
Giitu said he plans to use his latest trip to the Canton Fair to source for the latest Chinese technology in order to expand his business even further.