Kenya industrial giant Kapa Oil Refineries was founded in 1968 by three brothers as a salt-packaging business before venturing into mini baking and later on established itself as a consumer good manufacturer. From its humble roots, the company has grown to become a household name in Kenya.
In this article, WoK takes a look at the founder, products, leadership and highlights everything you need to know about Kapa Oil Refineries.
Kapa Oil Refineries Founders and History
Kapa Oil Refineries was established as Karania Packers by Mr Dhirajlal Devraj Karania, Mohanlal Devraj Karania and one of their other brothers. Mohanlal quit school while aged 15 years to join his father’s business, where he gained extensive experience together with his brothers which enabled them to start Karania Packers ten years later. The company was changed from Karania Packers to Kapa Packers in the early 70s and started off as a salt packaging company before going into mini baking and later consumer goods. The famous Chapa Mandashi baking powder was their flagship product which went on to become a major success.
In 1974, the company went into oil packaging sourced from abroad and four years later they produced their own cooking oil under the brand name ‘Kapa.’ In 1986, Kapa launched one of its most famous products – Kasuku cooking fat which was packaged in plastic containers against the then norm of using aluminum tins. Mohanlal Karania served as the company’s Chairman until 11th July 2020 when he passed away in the United Kingdom. Mr Dhirajlal Devraj Karania who was one of the co-founders also passed away on 2nd April 2020.
Kapa Oil Refineries Successa
Kapa Oil Refineries products are exported to 18 African countries including Madagascar, Comoros and Guinea Bissau. The company owns a modern factory situated along Mombasa road in the outskirts of Nairobi. The manufacturing plant sits on a 70 acre piece of land situated next to Syokimau train station and opposite the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA). The company has built a three kilometer railway line extension that links its Mombasa Road factory to the Embakasi line, a project that cost them Ksh 40 million. With 16 depots spread across the country, the company employs over 2,500 people directly and indirectly. The company produces between 750 and 800 tonnes of products per day.
Kapa Oil Refineries Products
Kapa Oil Refineries produces a wide range of products which are approved by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS). In Cooking fat, the company products are under various brand names such as Kasuku, Seagull, Alpa, Rina and Tilly. When it comes to edible oils, they have Captain Cook Corn Oil, Rinsun Sunflower Oil, Phapso Vegetable Oil, Olivia Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Postman Vegetable Oil. In Margarine-they have Prestige margarine and Bredbest margarine while in bakery products you will find Chapa Mandashi and Special Bakers Compound.
When it comes to homecare products it produces Toss blue, Toss white, Toss lavender, Toss sensitive, Toss bright powder, Toss white machine wash, Toss liquid detergent hand wash, Classic multipurpose soap, Classic detergent powder, Rono IDP, Atilla blue freshness, Atilla apple green, Atilla violet infusion, Jamaa laundry soap, Tower laundry soap[, Lido laundry soap and solio. Personal care products include Lanzo ice cool menthol, Lanzo anti-bacterial, Lanzo coconut and shea butter, Lanzo bubbly blueberry, Lanzo vanilla and raspberry, Jamaa luxury bath soap, glycerine, softleaf, Neptune, cleanrol and Painotab. Most recently, the company diversified to join the food market industry where it launched the Numi instant noodles product which is currently available in all retail supermarkets across the country.
Kapa Oil Refineries Leadership
After the death of the three founders, the company is now under the control of four of the founders’ children. Mohanlal’s son, Nitin Shah, who is the most famous one, serves as the company’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO). While speaking during a past interview with Business Daily, Nitin Shah revealed that the company is a family business and they don’t allow investors.
“The growth of Kapa oil refineries has been funded organically, with minimal and conservative borrowing from financial institutions. Kapa remains a family business, and any external investment is limited to strategic investors with minority stakes. We have never entertained any buyout bids, and consideration for a public listing would perhaps only come 10 years from now,” he revealed.