Chinese machinery boosts income for Kenya's small business owners
It is early in the morning and Cliff Nyongesa is getting ready to open his maize milling shop located in Nairobi's Kawangware suburb, a prized residential district among low-income earners.
There is already a long queue of customers waiting with small bags of maize outside his small shop. The 42-year-old father of three charges his customers 10 Kenyan shillings (about 0.09 U.S. dollars) for grinding two kilograms of maize into flour.
Nyongesa told Xinhua on Saturday that his business is doing well thanks to the modern maize milling machine he bought from China in 2019. "It was well designed and suited for heavy use," said Nyongesa.
He bought the machine from savings he accumulated when he was working for a local engineering firm. Nyongesa said the Chinese machinery is well adapted to Kenyan conditions because the manufacturers have a better understanding of the local market.
Since maize is the staple crop for the east African nation, demand for his services is steady throughout the year.
"Most of my customers prefer to buy the maize grains and grind it as compared to buying maize flour from supermarkets," said Nyongesa.
Ludrick Opiyo began his peanut roasting business in 2019. The 35-year-old entrepreneur was introduced to the new venture after attending a trade exhibition in Nairobi that was showcasing Chinese machinery. While touring one of the stands, the peanut roasting machine captured his attention due to its sleek appearance.
"I had never seen such a machine before that could roast peanuts and grind into a paste before," said Opiyo. He bought the machine with a loan.
With the medium-sized machine, Opiyo opened a shop in the Kibera slums which is located about seven kilometers southwest of Nairobi's central business district.
The business owner purchases raw peanuts from the cereal market and then converts them to peanut butter for selling. The business has been brisk due to the huge demand for peanut butter which has high protein content. "I am able to make a good profit because the machine is very durable and it can be easily fixed by local technicians," said Opiyo.
Edmond Karanja operates an ice-making business in the sprawling Gikomba fish market that is a few kilometers away from Nairobi's central business district. The 31-year-old former teacher discovered a niche in the supplying of ice to fish traders through a mutual friend.
"My friend told me that he was unable to get good quality fish from the market due to the lack of cold storage facilities in Gikomba market," said Karanja. After making a few inquiries, he discovered that there was a viable business case by establishing an ice supplying enterprise in the market.
Karanja said that he mobilized a starting capital from friends and relatives to import a commercial-grade ice-making machine from China. The machine has enabled him to become the supplier of ice used to preserve fish in one of Kenya's largest open air markets.
"Previously, my clients had to travel more than four kilometers in order to find where they could buy ice blocks to safeguard their fish stocks from rotting," said Karanja.