Msitu: supporting farmers through value addition
They say nothing good comes easy and working with entrepreneurs has taught me a lot. The value of patience, determination and hard work. Have you ever tasted something and wondered where it has been all your life? That was me a few months ago with the Msitu fruit jam. I am officially their self proclaimed brand ambassador.
Eco Agribusiness Limited, the company that makes the jam supports the farmers by buying their surplus produce of strawberries, tree tomato and mangoes. Most of their employees at the processing facilities are women. Watching the women peel the fruit in precision is something to marvel at, but this is a story for another day. The company also makes chutneys (mango and tree tomato) and fruit pulp for flavoring yoghurt.
In the first few minutes I met Susan Wambui at the processing facility in Narumoru, I knew something exciting was in the offing. She has a way with words, and for the first time in my life her words were gospel truth. The moment the strawberry jam landed in my mouth, my hair literally stood. For a moment I thought I had tasted heaven. I could feel my heart racing and probably I had stopped thinking by the time I had swallowed that first spoonful. I wore the excitement of a three-year-old girl with a new doll.
Now that my friends, is how you fall in love with a product. There should be a seamless flow from the explanation of how the product works to the actual demonstration. As a customer I do not want to feel robbed or lied to because you overpromised while trying to convince me then your product under delivers.
As an entrepreneur, you need to walk with the customer at every stage. A skill KCIC has been very keen to impact to Eco Agribusiness, we are just proud of the progress they are making. Customer is king and he/she needs to know that they can confide in you on matters pertaining your product. You also need to understand the customer when they are not willing to be part of your journey. Don’t take their rejection with anger, take a step further to find out why they dint hit it off with your product. This is a great opportunity for you to discover ways of improving your product.
Susan understands that my taste buds politely declined the chutney, and we have tried it a number of times, but she has not forced it down my throat. The village girl in me has just refused to embrace the chutney but has come to love the jam. As an entrepreneur, you have to be prepared to deal with the criticism, it’s second to nature. What you do with the criticism is what matters.
Off course we all have different taste buds and what might be delicious to me might leave an unpleasant taste for you. And it’s not just the strawberry jam, the company also makes tree tomato jam. Yeah, I know what you are thinking, ‘ile matunda ya damu’ in jam? Yeees! That’s right and its slurp! All the way. My relationship with bread has graduated a notch higher and Msitu jam has become bae.
The other day KCIC invited Susan to an exhibition. She has that kind of patience that a surgeon has on an operating table. She is not in a hurry to sell and move to the next customer. Whether you are a student, professor, a mogul, you name it. She treats them equally. Did I mention that she wears this never ending smile which worries me sometimes? I am worried that her face might stick that way…not that it’s a bad thing. There are those who will taste everything and expect her to repeatedly explain what the product contains and still won’t buy even after consuming half her plate of crackers. She will still smile and thank them for tasting. If I ever own a business, that’s the kind of patience I want, so help me God.
So let’s just say that Susan and I are in it in for the long haul. She has my back, wait…what I mean is she has my loyalty and I have her jam. Next time you want to try some Msitu jam, head to Chandarana Supermarket. The company is working on stocking them in other supermarket outlets too so just be on the lookout.
But I can’t go without reminding you that this is what you become as an entrepreneur when you join KCIC. We hand hold you and make sure you become the model business person. We have mastered the art of mentorship at KCIC and we are proud that Susan has been a coachable student.