Anzazi Kiti, 27, grew up in rural Kenya observing how her mother used to prepare fruits. Like any curious child, she got fascinated by the science behind traditional food preparation methods.
So she decided to do an experiment.
A few days before the end of her school holiday, she decided to make food spices from vegetables and take it to school so she could sell the product to her schoolmates. The experiment was so successful that she earned some pocket money.
And that, dear reader, is how Chibundiro, a mixture of grounded natural spices, that gives food extra yumminess, was born. Kiti’s eyes glow with excitement as she reflects about her childhood days and the money she made selling the food spices in school.
Taste Afrique Limited is the company that manufactures, distributes and sells food seasoning products called Chibundiro, a blend of natural spices containing coriander, ginger, cinnamon, garlic, onions, cumin seeds, cardamom, black pepper, cloves and natural oils.
“The initial capital was KSh 4,800 since we had no machines at that time. We later increased our contributions and raised an additional KSh 15,000 to secure the accreditation from KBS,” she reminisces about the early days of the business.
Kiti and her partners started by packaging the food spices in plastic cans before moving to glass containers. At the start, they were targeting boarding schools but realized their products would also suit the middle-class market segment.
“We targeted a product that would fit the whole family and that is why we introduced various products to allow a wide selection based on taste and preference,” says Kiti.
In January 2016, Chibundiro spices finally got a barcode which means they can now sell their brands through retail outlets in any part of the world.
The spices can be used on any ready to eat food. Taste Afrique has three spice brands: Chibundiro hot chili, mild chili and Chibundiro. The spices are made from a variety of natural vegetables that are ground, cooked in natural spices and the oils drained. They are then allowed to cool and packed as ready to use.
Due to the changing market preferences, Taste Afrique has identified a niche market and started packing their spice brands in gift boxes that can be given as special gift packs.
Kiti says the biggest challenge the business is currently facing is market penetration due to stiff competition from companies that have similar established brands in the market. Their biggest competitors are multi-nationals who control a significant share of the market and already have an established distribution network.
However, Kiti sees a light at the end of the tunnel. She highlights Taste Afrique’s unique selling point as their personalized attention to consumers which has gradually enabled them to improve their products. “We are developing a new distribution model in addition to deploying aggressive marketing strategies,” she says.
In the pipeline are plans to diversify into tea spices and increase the size of the product packaging.
As an entrepreneur, Kiti admits that the lowest moment for her is when sales are low. The highest moment for her is when clients give positive feedback about their spices. The business relies on social media platforms like Facebook for marketing and referrals.
“We are open to working with investors who can inject capital in the business in exchange for a stake,” says Kiti.
She says the only thing that has kept her going is the fact that she loves what she does. “I would urge anyone who wants to venture into business to invest in something that he or she is passionate about”.
Kiti is currently running Taste Afrique as a side business. She is planning to quit her job so she can concentrate on the business full time.