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Maize business borne out of a failed venture

Peter Njuguna tried his best to steer away from the family line of business, but as fate would have it, he was destined to excel in the same field. After all, an apple does not fall far from the tree

Milliam Murigi @milymur1

In his scheme of things, Peter Mwangi Njuguna, Nicey Nicey Maize Millers founder, never thought he would one day own a flour production business.  This is despite the fact that he was brought up in a family running a similar business.

In a bid to chart his own path, Njuguna ventured into tyre business in the year 2000, prompted by the fact that it was booming at the time.

But his dream was short-lived. Seven years later the government allowed liberalisation of tyres into the market, making the business untenable because of stiff competition.

This led to the closure of the business in 2008 and he decided to go into the animal feeds industry.

But another problem arose as he was preparing to set up an animal feed processing plant— maize germ, the main raw material was not easily available.

“I tried buying from different millers, but I couldn’t get the quantity I wanted and when I got it, the cost of production was high, thus I ended up with a little or no profit at all,” he says.

Nicey Nicey Maize Millers Peter Mwangi Njuguna, founder of the firm. Photo/MILLIAM MURIGI

He decided to invest in a maize milling business so as to get the raw material for animal feeds. Njuguna pumped in Sh1 million to import a milling machine from China and purchased locally fabricated mixtures and packaging materials. This is how his flour business was borne.

With no expertise in the field, Njuguna and his team of five made a lot of mistakes, especially with conversion rates, but they eventually got the hang of it.

“We were producing 50 and 90 kilogrammes bags per week. At first, there was a lot of resistance since my business is located in a rural area (Kangari and Murang’a county) where residents were used to taking their maize to posho mills rather than buying sifted flour,” he says.

Since he wanted a lot of raw material to start processing animal feeds, he started marketing his sifted maize flour by talking to shop owners, doing demonstrations and even giving out free samples to residents. In a day he would give up to 180 kilogrammes for free, but this never discouraged him.

After three months the business picked up and he started producing 100 bags per day. To ensure continuity of his enterprise, Njuguna incorporated his family into the business.

“As the business grew I started making animal feeds, whose demand was high. By then I was producing maize germ only, but I even started receiving orders for bran and pollard,” he says.

Nicey Nicey Maize Millers. A worker makes sure the maize flour is of the highest quality. Photo/MILLIAM MURIGI

Receiving such orders acted as an eye-opener for him and after five years he started milling wheat flour. From wheat, he is now able to produce bran and pollard.

Currently, the company is producing 1,500 bales of maize flour and 500 bales of wheat flour daily.

He buys the raw materials locally, but also imports when the orders are many. Their major markets are central and eastern parts of the country.  However, they can deliver to any part of the country.

 “The best thing about milling business is that nothing goes to waste. Once you have your flour, the waste is converted into animal feeds,” he says.

His plan is to expand his business and have a milling station with the capacity to produce 50 tonnes per day.  He also wants to start milling other flours such as millet and sorghum for blending.

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