Wanjiru Mambo is the founder of Wedgehut Foods Limited, a potato value addition and processing company located in Ruiru.
She established the company during the COVID-19 pandemic while looking for ways to clear stock in a restaurant that she ran with her partner.
While her partner took meat, she took potatoes which she sold in her neighbourhood before identifying a business opportunity.
Here is Wanjiru’s story as told by WoK.
By the time the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country, Wanjiru Mambo was in the hospitality industry, running a restaurant.
Wanjiku and her business partner had set up their restaurant in Upper Hill, Nairobi in 2019.
With the restrictions that came along the pandemic, they were forced out of business by among other precautionary measures, the lockdown.
During the lockdown period, only professionals offering crucial services were allowed to move around.
Just before the lockdown was announced and effected, Wanjiru says they had just stocked meat and potatoes.
In an interview with KTN News, she noted that with no hopes of opening soon, they decided to distribute the stock amongst themselves.
“We had no where to take them, I took the potatoes with me and managed to dispose them at my estate. I used to park my pickup at the gate and people would buy it,” she said.
Wanjiru noted that she depleted the first lot and ordered more potatoes from Limuru through her mother.
It was then when she started thinking of ways of adding value to the potatoes instead of just selling it as a whole.
“It’s an idea that I had come across from somebody else who, unfortunately, were out of business but they were willing to help me and even sell me some of the equipments that they had,” she said.
With access to the requisite requirements, Wanjiru went ahead to work on the basics such as registering the business and hit the ground running.
She set up the business with funding from friends and family, including her husband whom she described as very supportive.
“It’s been a process, we just acquired the basics that we needed. We started by processing 300 kilos a day and now we’re doing almost five tonnes. It’s a process and you upgrade the machines if need be,” she said.
Most of her clients are schools that serve fries in their menu, fast food joints and restaurants that don’t do potatoes processing.
“Where most hotels and restaurants and located, the potato processing is very intensive, it’s a dirty job and therefore they don’t have the luxury to process as they cook
“They’re also very busy, that’s why it’s a gap and it’s a need for us to provide them with ready to cook potatoes,” Wanjiru said.
Wedgehut makes several products that include French fries, potato wedges, lyonnaise, potato cubes and whole peeled potatoes.
These products are peeled, cut, cleaned to remove starch, vacuum-packed to reduce oxidation and chilled.
Wanjiru noted that her clientele include supermarkets, fast food chains, institutions and domestic consumers.
They include Naivas, Quickmart, Safari Park Hotel, Ole Sereni, Carnivore, Empire Lounge, ChickenInn Java, Galito’s and Strathmore University.