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Minting money from ” traditional porridge



Traditional fermented porridge is one of Kenya’s most ancient dishes. However, due to manual production process, its consumption nowadays remains low, even though many appreciate its nutritional value. Because of the tedious process, those who venture into business of making fermented porridge are always successful since customers are readily available.

Jane Njeri Githaiga popularly known as Njeri wa Uji is one of the few businesspersons who have decided to venture into this business and she does not regret it. Njeri started the business in 2016 after trying her hand in other ventures with no success.

The idea of making and selling fermented porridge, popped up when she was running a sugarcane juice making business. “At first I was working with non- governmental organisations, but on a contract basis.

When all my contracts ended I was left with no other option than starting my own business. I ventured into vegetable business, but it didn’t last for long, then ran a general shop and later sugarcane juice business,” says the social work and community development graduate.

Less tedious

Though the juice business was fulfilling, it reached a time when customers couldn’t take juice because of the cold and they wanted something hot. She then introduced tea, but competition from hotels was high and she had to think about something different.

This is when the idea of selling porridge popped up and she decided to do some trials before introducing it to her customers. After trials and perfecting the art, she introduced the traditional fermented porridge popularly known as “ucuru wa mukio” (porridge made from ground millet) by the Gikuyu, and the power porridge (made of porridge flour plus pumpkin seeds, cassava flour, amaranth, and peanut) on her menu.

“As a young girl, I used to assist my late mother to make fermented porridge. That is where I learned the skills.

Even after growing up, I was still making the porridge, so to me the idea of making this porridge was not new.

The best thing is because of technology, the process has now become easier and less tedious”. The products were quite unique and she started receiving more customers.

This motivated her to introduce yet another type of por ridge known as smoothie porridge. “I started with a kilogramme of flour and the demand kept increasing. Sometimes I was forced to pour out some porridge since I did not sell everything every day, but this never discouraged me,” she explains The outcome made her abandon the juice business and rent a small space at Githurai 44, where she was purely concentrating on the three types of porridge. She was also forced to employ someone to assist her since her customer base was growing daily. Later, her customers started asking for flour and as a business person, she introduced a posho mill to her business portfolio.

This reduced the cost of production and made her reach a group of people who couldn’t make it to her shop. She also opened another shop in the same town. “After opening the second shop, I reintroduced sugarcane juice and added other natural juices to the menu. Some customers who wanted me to diversify and introduce other drinks motivated this movve,” she explains.

Happy customers
Currently, she has four branches: two at Githurai 44, one at Kasarani maternity with the latest at Membley Business Centre, where she sells her porridge. She also sells the products online, with delivery countrywide.

She has 26 employees so far. She says the journey to where she is now hasn’t been all rosy and along the way, she has encountered several challenges with the main being people stealing her brand name and using it for their business.

“Stealing my business idea is nothing I should worry about because I train people how to make porridge for free, but stealing the brand name is what I don’t like.

If you want to open your business kindly refrain from using someone’s brand name to avoid confusion,” she says. Her advice to upcoming entrepreneurs is that they should not let education level limit them when it comes to opening businesses.

One should do what they feel passionate about and the rest will follow. “Education is good, but don’t let it limit you. Go out and hustle as if you never went to school. That is the only secret if you want to be successful. For me, I am always open to any opportunity and I remember I once worked as a casual labourer at a construction site,” she says.

Apart from selling porridge and natural juices, she has also added products such as honey, peanut butter, Himalayan salt, and Boabab. Her porridge flour ranges between Sh80 and Sh300, with power porridge flour as the bestselling product. And what keeps her going? She says seeing her customers happy and satisfied keeps her going. To her, this is a business she is not forgoing anytime soon since it has made her who she is today


• Njeri was born and raised in Gacharage village, Murang’a County.

• Her mother passed on when she was 10 years old and her dad was a drunkard. Since she is the firstborn, she had to take care of her siblings.

• This forced her to start hustling and consequently, she did not attend school regularly.

• Her first job was picking tea leaves. She was only 10 years old.

• Through her maternal grandmother’s effort, she managed to complete her primary school education.

• After Class Eight she was absorbed taken in at a children’s home in Thika where she secured a scholarship for her secondary education.

• She attended the University of Nairobi for the bachelor of social work and community development course.

Education good, but don’t let it limit you. Go out and hustle as if you never went to school. That is the only secret if you want to be successful.


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