Alice Wamboi is the founder of Mycellia and Foods Limited, a mushroom value addition start up processing and packaging dried mushrooms.
She mills mushrooms which she sells to traders and families who then blend with composite flours such as wheat or sorghum.
Before establishing her start up, Wamboi was growing mushrooms in her three mushroom houses each measuring 30 by 15 metres.
Here is her story as told by WoK.
Wamboi established her value addition start up in January 2022 after realize that she was making losses by selling fresh mushrooms.
She enrolled for a product development course at the Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute (Kirdi) in a bid to better her value addition business.
“Mushrooms are highly perishable, they cannot last for more than five days. Sadly, once harvested, only 45 per cent make it to the market
“Dry mushrooms can stay for long as long as they are not in contact with moisture, and that is why they are becoming a popular delicacy when prepared in soups, roasted, grilled or fried,” Wamboi told Nation.
While still taking the course she started running the project after pumping Ksh 870,000, a grant from Kenya Climate Innovation Centre and her savings.
Wamboi used the money to buy two solar panels, a milling machine, building a drying chamber and renting a space in Kiambu town.
By the time she set up the business, she had three mushroom houses at her rural home in Githunguri, and she would harvest at least 50 kgs of mushrooms daily.
She buys additional mushrooms from Mushroom Farmers Self-Help Group at Ksh 150 and Ksh 120 for a 250g pack of button and oyster varieties respectively.
Wamboi then dries the mushrooms for three days.
“When the produce is received from farmers, we first sort it, then weigh. Then it is sliced uniformly and spread in the two storey solar dryers
“Air is actively extracted from centrifugal fan and redirected to the mushrooms to speed up the drying,” she explained.
After drying for three days, she will test the mushrooms for moisture content before milling them to make mushroom powder and package them for sale.
Wamboi sells 100g of dried mushrooms at Ksh 400, while 40g of mushroom powder at Ksh 200.
“Lactating mothers, toddlers and the elderly are the biggest consumers of the products as well as traders who go to blend other flours
“Mushroom has 60 per cent protein, no cholesterol and is a good source of vitamin B2 and iron,” she explained.
She employs two workers, and uses social media to market her products although most of her sales come from referrals.