The Ananas Mall located along Garissa Road, in the populous Makongeni Estate in Thika, is among the largest malls in Kiambu County. It was established by a consortium of investors.
Capwell Industries Ltd, a family company headed by Rajan Shah (CEO), and Chetan Shah (marketing director) led other investors in establishing the Ksh500 million shopping complex that was completed in April 2015, and has a 90,000 square feet retail space.
Rajan Shah, was elected the Vice Chair of the Kenya Association of Manufacturers in 2020. He also served on the KAM Board in various capacities and also as the regional Chairman for KAM Central Region.
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During a previous interview with Business Daily, Mr Chetan revealed that the group of investors comprised longtime entrepreneurs targetting residents of Thika and its environs. He noted that people from the area don’t need to travel to Nairobi to enjoy certain services.
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“We are a group of Thika investors who have resided in Thika for over 40 years. The investors identified the growing needs of the Thika community and rightfully decided on this investment,” said Mr Shah.
“There is a growing middle class here in Thika and bringing them the mall experience means shoppers do not need to travel to Nairobi and all their needs are catered for at very close proximity,” he added.
The family owned company are the manufacturers of Soko Flours, Pearl Rices & Pulses, Ranee Rices & Spaghetti, CIL Rices, Amaize Maize.
Capwell Industries commenced operations as a food manufacturing Company in 1999. It was a maize milling and packaging facility with 80 employees on a 2.5-acre property in Thika. The company has since grown into a conglomerate with seven product lines and employing 700.
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In 2015 it launched a Ksh250 million plant. That year, the company also launched Yola, Kenya’s first cereal milk drink. Rajan revealed that the company had conducted a two-year research and collected feed back from across the country.
“We identified a growing market for ready-to-drink products based on a fast rising urban population with an appetite for a healthy and nutritious ready-to-drink product.
“R&D (research and development) team is not about laboratories only but a deliberate endevour within companies to promote new thinking towards product innovation based on customer needs. We worked on various product tastes that we internally tested and that is what informed our Ksh250 million plant investment,” he told Business Daily.
To promote the country’s growth, Capwell Industries sources raw materials locally for most of their products, from maize, wheat and porridge flours as well as ready-to-cook pulses, rice. According to Rajan, they trade in imported pasta. All are informed by customer feedback that we closely monitor to inform our new investments.
Rajna notes that to expand the manufacturing space, the country along with the business community need to facilitate investments in products that can be manufactured locally and discourage imports.
“Some raw materials are locally available and can be used to make some of these imported products, say pasta,” he said.
Capwell Industries relies on expatriates to train their plant operators as their machines are technologically advanced.
“We invest in training our own technicians but have also opened our factories for apprenticeship. We source for interns in various fields from technical institutes where some have been absorbed into full employment,” he added.
The company, which ahs since gone international, has seen some of their products sold across East Africa and as far as Dubai. It has invested in world-class machinery that can be scaled as demand rises.
Rajan and Chetan have steered Capwell Industries down the philanthropic path, aiding the surrounding communities in various projects. The company has partnered with county governments and institutions to realise various projects.
For instance, Capwell Foundation, in partnership with Giants Group of Nairobi – Twiga and Shree Vaishnav Vanik Mahajan sponsored a cup of uji daily to over 13,000 lower primary pupils in underprivileged schools in Kiambu County. The beneficiaries being in Gathanga, Muchatha, Thimbigua, Ndumberi, Kanunga, Kiambaa, Karura, Cianda, Wangige, Gachie and sorrounding areas.
The foundation has also on several occasions sponsored students joining Form one. The students come from needy families, and were selected by the schools and vetted by the area chiefs. The sponsorship includes school fees (Form1- 4), uniform, shoes, stationery and utensils.
The Capwell Foundation also donates Yola Cereal Milk Drink to pupils in about 27 institutions in Kiambu County. This initiative is in line with their support for education and creating a positive impact to the society.
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