By Prudence Minayo
Big Kuku is a company that deals with the production, processing, packaging and sale of chicken. It was founded by Stanley Mburu Gitau, who in a recent interview with Business Daily, narrated his entrepreneurial journey.
He has faced numerous hurdles, some of which seemed insurmountable but he kept on pushing. Along the way, he has learnt who to trust, differentiating ideas on paper verses reality, and the challenges of starting a business from scratch.
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Today, his company supplies approximately two tonnes of chicken daily and has generated Ksh 27.4 million revenue in the last six months.
Here is the story of Big Kuku Chief Executive Officer(CEO) WoK.
A Certified Public Accountant, Stanley graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics, Gender and Development Studies from Kenyatta University. He has also undertaken various programs in institutions such as, Cisco Academy and the University of Iowa Triple College of Business.
The 32-year-old has served various organisations in different roles. He was the Samsung Gear S2 brand ambassador for 11 months in 2016 and also served as a business development specialist at KCB Foundation. The entrepreneur also served as a:
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- Business development trainer and team lead at USADF Six Degrees Food Haven Project
- Technical support specialist at UN Women
- Policy Consultant at United Nations Population Fund
- Marketing and business development coordinator at M&M Creatives Limited
- Policy consultant at African Academy of Sciences
Growing up, Stanley was impressed with how chicken farming had the power to transform lives. He had seen his father make a living out of the venture. After his stint in the corporate world, he ventured into the chicken business.
At the beginning, he did not have a ready market. Instead, he would look for buyers once the birds were ready for market. By starting a processing company named Big Kuku, he was able to create ready market for his chicken.
One of the challenges he faced was access to funding. He got the opportunity to attend Chandaria Business Innovation and Incubation Center. He learnt a lot about funding, pitching ideas, writing proposals, and connected to mentors.
Afterwards, he attended the Young Africa Leadership Initiative which trained them how to build networks and get funding.
With the knowledge, he contacted the US-Africa Development Foundation, who awarded him a US$10,000 grant. With the money, he started chicken farming in Gatanga and fish farming in Lake Victoria. He realised that the chicken venture was the better option.
The funding helped him a lot but it was not enough to fully grow the venture. The business margins were lower than he had projected and could not sustain the operations. He brought in a friend as a silent investor.
The friend invested the money and stayed off the operations while he was hands-on. The only challenge with this partnership was that the investor had to be paid an agreed upon amount whether business was good or bad.
This forced him to break the contract in 2019. He then put a new proposal on the table. The investor needed to be knowledgeable of the business so they could each have an equal footing, he agreed.
They reached an agreement only to lose their initial market. This forced them back to the drawing board and they began selling in city market.
When the pandemic hit, it disrupted their business as markets shut down. People began to offer low prices and they had to look into cold storage. They found the cold storage warehouse in Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
Four months later, they were greeted with 4,000 rotten chicken. This showed them warehouse was not the way to go and they needed to invest in a deep freezer.
Nonetheless, they rose up and have managed to steer the business in the right direction.
At one point, they were shut down by public health officials for not complying with regulations. They had grown so much that capacity became an issue. He also had the chance to attend the Mandela Washington fellowship in the US.
The two-months imparted him with value addition skills. However, it meant he was away from the business and it was affected by his absence.
He hopes to expand the business and make butcheries, and mini marts a big part of his clientele network as he believes the competitors focus more on supermarkets ignoring other markets.
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