The Kenyan construction industry has long been unpredictable due to the ever-rising cost of construction materials like cement and steel, which form a large part of the raw materials.
George Mutua is the founder and owner of Global Precast Panel, a tech company specializing in production and construction using precast technology.
According to him, the technology is a game changer in the construction industry as it reduces construction costs by half.
He co-founded the company in 2016 alongside his wife.
Today, their Kitengela-based factory is one of the largest producers and suppliers of high-quality and long-lasting concrete precast panels.
This is their journey as told by WoK:
Mutua and his wife learned about the technology while living abroad.
In a bid to cut construction costs, they decided to use the technology to construct their rural home in Meru.
However, they couldn’t find a local supplier for precast materials.
“We saw this as a huge business opportunity,” said Mutua.
They traveled to China, UAE, and other countries to learn more about the technology.
They estimated the startup capital for the business to be around Ksh20 million, which they raised via the sale of assets like land, motor vehicles, and taking unsecured bank loans since they were both employed.
They got some of the machinery and trucks via direct hire purchases from dealers and started operations in 2017 while still employed.
Initially, Mutua was employed in the banking and media sector.
This greatly contributed to his experience in terms of sourcing capital and finding suppliers.
His wife, on the other hand, was in the telco sector.
They started by using the technology to construct their house in Meru, which gave them first-hand experience.
After a while, a few of their friends liked their three-bedroom house and became their first clients.
Within one year, the business had broken even.
Their big break occurred during the Covid period.
At that time, the government introduced a mandatory requirement for increased spaces in schools, churches, and other public buildings to adhere to social distancing.
“This was very exciting because with Precast, a church or classroom could be built within two weeks,” said Mutua.
During that period, they were awarded numerous contracts by big corporations, government institutions, churches, and schools.
Putting up a factory
Mutua and his wife spent a lot of time and resources in expanding their business and putting up a factory.
However, one of their major mistake when starting was employing clueless technicians who were unfamiliar with this new technology but were unwilling to admit it.
“We should have sought professional services or contracted our suppliers for a full factory set up of the production line,” reflected Mutua.
They saved money by re-investing the profits back into the business.
This was through the development of new product offerings or buying better assets like equipment and machinery, which increased their revenue streams.
However, he points out that the old generation is still struggling to accept technology.
His advice to entrepreneurs is that whatever business you start, give your best and the results will come.
“Acknowledge your mistakes without excuses, own up, and learn from them,” he says.