Alex Milenye: From Scoring D- To Running A Successful Catering Company

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Photos: Alex Milenye

By Prudence Minayo

Alex Milenye is the founder of a catering business named Kijiji Cuisine Limited. Growing up, he never had an interest in cooking. However, when destiny presented an opportunity, he took it and never
looked back.

Getting onto catering

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While he was waiting for his high school results, one day, his father came home with an idea. A friend of his was offering free hospitality training and he wanted Alex to attend. Before he knew it, he had boarded a vehicle to Mombasa. He told TV47 that at the time, he did not even know how to cook tea or cut ingredients with a knife. Nonetheless, he underwent training for eighteen months and upon returning secured a job as a steward at NAS Airport Service.

He had scored a D minus in college, hence, he did a certificate in food production followed by a diploma in hospitality Management at Kenya Polytechnic (Now Technical University of Kenya) while still working.

In 2013, he quit the job without any plans. He then asked for a job at Princecam and was employed to manage a musician. He quit after three months.

Founding Kijiji

During the time, he was also training some youths in church about income generating activities, like cooking mandazi. He then joined forces with some three friends and started a catering outfit called Saintville.

They would do small occasions then they got a birthday which helped connect them to other opportunities. The friends left the business to pursue other interests. He on the other hand had to stay since the business revolved around his career. He restructured and named the business Kijiji cuisine as he felt it was a name that would resonate with everyone.

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They went on to cater for different people and in , traditional weddings among other events . They tailor menus according to client needs.

Challenges and worst experiences

In a past interview with Nation, he said one of the biggest mistakes he made was borrowing a Sh1 million loan from a friend. Since he signed for it without properly reading the terms, he ended up paying twice the amount.

One of his worst moments happened on one occasion when they were serving the high table. The methylated spirit used to keep food warm burst and injured him in the process. He had to be covered by the bride’s leso before being whisked to the hospital.

The other was when they were contracted to serve former first lady Margaret Kenyatta breakfast at Kasarani stadium. This was during her training as she prepared for the first lady marathon. Unforeseen circumstances delayed the breakfast, which was to be served at 6am, forcing her to be served by the bodyguards.

Our car broke down on our way, Ubers took too long and we ran out of options. I was under pressure with calls coming in left, right and centre. Eventually the car was repaired, but we were late and our
breakfast was taken by bodyguards and stadium caretakers,” he told People Daily

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