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Kimani Wa Makaratasi: How Entrepreneur Turned Ksh1600 M-Shwari Loan Into Millions

Kimani wa Makaratasi is a name that resonates with innovation and entrepreneurial spirit.

Hailing from Thika, this visionary businessman has achieved what many consider an impossible feat—transforming a humble Ksh 1,600 M-Shwari loan into a thriving multi-million empire.

He is the driving force behind Jamii Products, a company specializing in the manufacturing of eco-friendly carrier bags, aptly named “makaratasi” in Swahili.

Like many successful businesses, Kimani started small. However,  he seized an opportunity that would grow into a multimillion-dollar enterprise.

In 2018, Kimani laid the foundation for Jamii Products, driven by a deep understanding of the environmental issues associated with the widespread use of polythene bags.

When the Kenyan government imposed a ban on plastic bags, Kimani saw a window of opportunity and decided to act.

“It was a new dawn, and I decided to be part of changing the narrative in the packaging industry. I developed a business model to offer a sustainable solution and gave birth to Jamii Products Limited,” he explains.

What sets Kimani’s journey apart is his humble start. With just a loan of Ksh 1,600 borrowed from Safaricom’s M-Shwari, he embarked on a journey that would lead to remarkable success.

Kimani attributes his company’s outstanding achievements to a higher power, saying, “I started with a loan of Ksh1,600 from M-Shwari. It is on record. When I saw it was growing, I knew this is God’s love.”

Jamii Products specializes in the production of khaki paper products, including envelopes, gift bags, packaging bags, popcorn bags, khaki rolls for packaging, cake boxes, and book covers, among others.

These bags are not only biodegradable and compostable but also cost-effective, making them a sustainable alternative to single-use plastics.

However, what truly sets Jamii Products apart is not just its eco-friendly approach but also its commitment to social inclusion.

Kimani, an innovator at heart, provides free training to people living with disabilities and former prisoners, equipping them with valuable hands-on skills.

On the other end of the spectrum, the training program is accessible to all, with a fee of Ksh 15,000, requiring no machines and spanning 7-10 days, with no age or education limitations.

Kimani’s workshops are not merely about creating flower vases, candle holders, or dust bins from recyclable materials; they are about building futures.

To date, Jamii Products has trained over 8,500 individuals and offered employment to 19 people, including three with disabilities and one individual who spent seven years behind bars.

“We have empowered 25 groups for disabled in Kibra, Kiambu, Nanyuki, and six prisons in Central and Nairobi regions, and more than 23 schools for intellectual challenge units,” Kimani proudly declares.

Moreover, Kimani’s initiative reaches far beyond Kiambu County. He has empowered 25 groups for disabled individuals in various regions, fostering a sense of belonging and self-reliance.

The impact of Jamii Products extends even further. By providing materials and tools to his trainees, Kimani ensures that his knowledge becomes a catalyst for more enterprises.

His vision goes beyond recycling; it’s about creating a circular economy where waste is not discarded but transformed into opportunities for growth and development.

One of the most remarkable aspects of Kimani’s work is his determination to spread the message of sustainability.

“I am profoundly grateful to announce the establishment of a branch for my siblings in Naivasha town, where they will continue the noble work in that area. As I gaze hopefully toward the horizon, I am positioning myself to be an integral contributor to the ongoing efforts of mitigating the effects of climate change, conserving the environment, and fostering community engagement through behavioral and social change,” Kimani eloquently states.