Kajuju Kiogora’s story is one of a young woman who, from a young age, found her calling in the comforting embrace of flour, transforming it into delectable baked goods.
This passion would eventually lead her to create Healthy Kajuju, a thriving business rooted in the philosophy of wholesome living.
Kajuju’s love for baking began at a tender age when she was old enough to play with flour.
She not only honed her skills but also shared her creations with friends and family.
Even during her university years in the UK, her passion for baking persisted, and she started selling cakes and pastries to those around her.
It was here that her entrepreneurial spirit began to take shape.
While pursuing her degrees in law and business management, Kajuju underwent a transformation in her personal life.
She decided to adopt a healthier lifestyle, a choice driven by a desire for more nourishing foods and drinks. As she embarked on this journey, she encountered a challenge.
Despite her best efforts, she could not find a healthy alternative for her go-to lunch beverage – juice.
Undeterred by the lack of options in the market, Kajuju decided to take matters into her own hands.
She started making her own juice, sourcing organically grown fruits, and meticulously crafting a drink that contained no added sugar or water.
The results were remarkable. Kajuju’s newfound dietary choices brought her increased energy levels and a smoother complexion, free from the chronic acne that had plagued her for years.
This transformative experience was the spark that ignited the creation of Healthy Kajuju in 2016.
“To be honest, I wasn’t planning to be an entrepreneur. Yes, I was excited about business but I didn’t think it would be a long term career for me,” said Ms Kiogora, the founder and Managing Director of Healthy Kajuju.
She recalls the moment that set her on this path vividly. It was the first order that she received.
“I made some flyers where I’d advertised my juice and even bought a new business phone. Somebody called while I was in class and ordered some. In fact, it took me long to realise that it was my business phone ringing,” she recalled.
With the delivery of that single order, Kajuju’s journey began.
She continued to fulfill orders while still considering her endeavors as a hobby.
However, upon returning to Kenya, Kajuju found that her commitment to a healthy lifestyle was once again challenged by the lack of suitable snacks in the market.
Just as she had done with juice, she began crafting snacks for herself. Simultaneously, she documented her eating habits and discoveries in a blog, aptly named Healthy Kajuju.
Through her blog, Kajuju began to explore the possibility of turning her passion into a business.
Her research revealed a growing market for premium, healthy snacks. To test the waters, she started selling her products at local organic markets.
The response was beyond her expectations.
Word spread rapidly, and demand for her snack bars surged. Every weekend, consumers eagerly purchased the carefully crafted snack bars, whose flavors Kajuju had been experimenting with during the week.
With the confirmation that there was a significant gap in the market for wholesome snacks, Kajuju officially launched Healthy Kajuju, naming her enterprise after the blog that had been a part of her journey from the beginning.
Her commitment to quality was evident in her product line, which included granola cereals, snack bars, energy bites, falafels, and frozen burgers.
These products were crafted with care, made from plant-based ingredients, and free from wheat and refined sugar.
The core ingredients for Kajuju’s products were simple but nutritious: oats, dates, nuts, sunflower seeds, honey, and a variety of flavors drawn from coconut, ginger, spices, and sea salt, among others.
The falafels and frozen burgers were crafted from chickpeas and other vegetables, providing a nutritious and satisfying alternative to traditional options.
Notably, Kajuju’s commitment to sourcing locally was complemented by importing specific ingredients, such as almonds and potato starch, from the United States, ensuring the highest quality for her products.
Healthy Kajuju’s offerings soon found a place on the shelves of local supermarkets, including Chandarana and On-the-Way. Among the product range, snack bars and energy bites quickly emerged as customer favorites.
Kajuju’s journey had a broader impact than merely satisfying the appetites of her customers.
Her venture contributed to job creation and empowerment.
Starting with one employee, Healthy Kajuju now employs ten individuals, aged between 26 and 33 years old.
Kajuju, who holds a master’s degree in African Development, firmly believes that empowering people is a pathway out of financial dependence.
Despite the significant strides made by Healthy Kajuju, the journey has not been without its share of challenges.
Accessing markets, particularly securing space on supermarket shelves, has proven to be a formidable task. The lack of an established “name” can often hinder the launch of small businesses in competitive markets.
Additionally, Kajuju has faced obstacles when sourcing raw materials, as some suppliers, such as packaging bag manufacturers, require minimum orders that are unaffordable for budding enterprises.