By Prudence Minayo
Kenya is brimming with talented young minds who are taking the world of innovation to the next level. Anthony Muthungu belongs to a stock of such Kenyans. When he found a problem, he set out to invent a solution to it thus becoming the first Kenyan to manufacture USB cables.
Here is his inspiring story as told by WoK.
In 2013, he joined Karatina University to pursue a Bachelor of Education Science in Physics and Mathematics. From then till 2020, he worked on various inventions and at the same time was trying to build solutions and see if they could work.
Conceiving the idea
This idea was conceived in 2020 when he was transferring data to his laptop using a USB cable. He had six USB cables and all of them failed to function. At first, he thought he was the one with bad luck with cables but realized others faced similar issues.
“I remember I wanted to use a USB cable to transfer something from my phone to my laptop and you know all the cables that I had in my house, six of them none was working and they were all in good shape looking nice I was like what’s happening?,” he told KTN.
Anthony Muthungu posted on Facebook asking people to sell him their faulty cables at Sh10 each and he would pick them up. In two weeks time, he had collected over 5000 cables. He called his friend, a teacher by profession, named Paul Waweru to come and help him sort them out. They developed a device which could be used to test the cables and thus the tiresome process began. When all the lights from the device worked, it meant that the cable was okay and vice versa.
They sorted them out and began to realize the problem in most USB cables. This is how he set out to find the solution.
Founding the company
He assembled a small team, they acquired machines and began working on the first batch of cables. They didn’t sell their first cables but gave them to people so they could test them out.
Muthungu told Enterprise of his journey:
“I documented each cable, identified mistakes and then said to my team ‘let us build a cable that is durable, authentic and of high quality, which we did” he said.
Anthony Muthungu also took others to the Kenya Bureau of Standards so he could get certification. Next stop was the Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency (KEPROBA).
After everything was okay, he got the necessary licenses and approvals and set up the business. He took out a loan of about Sh3 million from friends just to get started. They began supplying the cables to various business people with their initial minimum order being 200.
The business has been growing and by the end of 2021 they were yet to break even. He admitted that it was not something easy and was not for the fainthearted.
“I am an industrialist, even though I make Sh1 profit per USB cable and I sell it to one million people, that would be a Sh1 million profit. Even with the high cost of taxation I know that nothing is permanent. This is not for the fainthearted. I tried to find someone in Africa who is doing the same thing so that we can share notes, I didn’t find anyone. Only risk takers carry the day,” he was quoted by Capital FM blog.
By the tail end of 2021, the company was producing between 200-500 USB cables per day. He added that they would be able to make upto 10,000 pieces per day if they get some machines.
The innovator hopes to expand the business and venture into the manufacture of chargers, mobile phones and earphones.
The name of his company is Totosci. Initially, he wanted it to be registered as an academy where he could teach children about technology. However, when Covid-19 hit, he couldn’t start school.