As a trained nurse by profession, Caroline Adongo Obuya quickly recognized the potential of orange fleshed sweet potatoes to provide health benefits to her community in Kendu Bay, Kenya. Packed with vitamin A, these sweet potatoes provide valuable nutrients for people living with HIV/AIDs and to decrease the risk of certain cancers and eye diseases.
Through the United States Agency for International Development’s Kenya Horticulture Competitiveness Project (USAID-KHCP), Kenyan farmers received technical assistance on how to increase the production and value of the sweet potatoes they sell, in an effort to build a countrywide horticulture distribution network that provides a year-round supply of high-quality, nutritious products grown by Kenyan farmers.
In 2014, after taking note of the excess number of sweet potatoes grown and the importance of promoting nutritious foods in her community, Caroline launched Kinda Bakery. Using the solar dried sweet potato flour supplied by neighboring farmers, Caroline began making chapatti and eventually, fresh bread. When USAID-KHCP took note of her initiative, she acquired equipment to expand the bakery’s production. Caroline began producing bread, donuts, scones and cake, which she sold to individual buyers and schools in her community.
Despite its impressive growth, Kinda Bakery lacked an equipment floor plan to promote efficiency and good hygienic practices to ensure the production of safe products. Caroline also did not have recordkeeping practices in place to track the progress of her business, a strategy for achieving sustained sales when schools were closed as well as a marketing plan for distributing her products in new markets.
In 2015, Kinda Bakery joined Solutions for African Food Enterprises (SAFE), a TechnoServe program in partnership with USAID and Partners in Food Solutions (PFS), with the aims of increasing the competitiveness of the African food processing sector and expanding the availability of affordable and nutritious foods. PFS is a non-profit organization formed by General Mills to link the technical and business expertise of volunteer employees from General Mills, Cargill, Royal DSM, Buhler, The Hershey Company and Ardent Mills. This program provides knowledge and technology transfer to build the capacity of African food processors, improving availability of nutritious foods and creating market opportunities for smallholder farmers.
HOW IT WORKS
The interventions TechnoServe and PFS implemented with Kinda Bakery through the SAFE program include:
1. GOOD MANUFACTURING PRACTICES
The SAFE team developed good manufacturing practice (GMP) manuals and provided training to Kinda Bakery staff to ensure that the processor operates within environmental parameters favorable to the production of safe food. As a result of the GMP training, Kinda Bakery established safety procedures, such as identifying an emergency door and hanging signs around hazardous equipment. Kinda Bakery has also implemented a cleaning routine and now maintains cleaning records. In addition, protective gear is provided for staff and a hand washing facility has been installed closer to the production facility.
2. QUALITY MANAGEMENT
TechnoServe Food Technologists provided in-depth training and mentorship to help Kinda Bakery establish Good Hygienic Practices. The SAFE team showed Kinda Bakery which disenfectants to use as well as the frequency by which cleaning needed to occur. In fact, Kinda Bakery took the training to heart and closed operations for a week in order to deep clean their facility and machinery, as well as to repaint the walls.
3. EQUIPMENT SETUP
The SAFE team analyzed Kinda Bakery’s process flow, looking at the current equipment to identify how to improve the equipment’s layout and the movement of staff around the factory for improved efficiency.
Kinda Bakery did not regularly keep records for the purchase and sale of their products. The SAFE team provided training on financial recordkeeping so that Kinda Bakery now has a permanent system for tracking cash flows and for business planning. Kinda Bakery also received advice on bulk purchasing which is enabling the business to purchase raw materials at discounted prices.
5. MARKETING STRATEGY
The SAFE team worked with Kinda Bakery to establish a marketing plan to reach new consumers. To inform this plan, the SAFE team conducted a market survey in Kendu Bay to identify the market needs and challenges as well as the opportunities for expansion of Kinda’s products.
6. BISCUIT FORMULATION
As a result of the market study, the SAFE team identified that there is a market opportunity to bake biscuits for the community of Kendu Bay. Since Kinda Bakery was interested in diversifying its products, the SAFE team is working on a biscuit formulation that will be tested in the community upon completion.
PFS Volunteer Spotlight: Rose Barry
Rose Barry has been working in product development at General Mills for 10 years, developing yogurts, snacks and baked goods. When a PFS volunteer opportunity opened with Kinda Bakery, Rose appeared to be the perfect candidate. “I was intrigued by the project because | am not familiar with sweet potato flour but | have experience with biscuit formulation and bakeries so | thought this would both be an interesting challenge and something that would be helpful for the company,” she said. Rose used the findings from the market survey and Skype conversations with Caroline to create two biscuit formulas using sweet potato flour in the General Mills labs in Minnesota. These formulas were then sent to Kinda Bakery where they collected feedback on score cards based on flavor, texture and sweetness. Rose incorporated this feedback to develop an improved biscuit formula and now the Kinda Bakery team is working with her to create the formula for a chocolate biscuit.
“When customers come to the bakery and see things have changed, the walls are bright and it’s clean, it has made us go a notch higher,” said Caroline. With the profits from Kinda Bakery, Caroline purchased a plot of land for KES 460,000 (USD $4,430) with the goal of expanding operations and building an even larger bakery in Kendu Bay.
Caroline not only has the skills but also the confidence to continue growing her business and providing more members of her community with nutritious foods. “People are now just coming and lining up outside to buy what we are baking,” she said.
Strengthening the Sweet Potato Market
Kabondo Sweet Potato Cooperative was formed in 2011 to bring orange fleshed sweet potato farmers together to increase their bargaining power and to access inputs, such as fertilizers, at a cheaper price. Kabondo collects sweet potatoes from over 2,555 farmers. Once the sweet potatoes are harvested, they are cleaned, chipped and dried and then milled into a fine flour. Kinda Bakery is one of Kabondo’s most reliable buyers of the sweet potato flour. “Without proper markets, farmers will experience major post harvest losses. What is great is that | know I can buy farmers produce and that Kinda will always be there to offload the resulting sweet potato flour,” said Tobias Muga, Secretary of Kabondo Sweet Potato Cooperative.
“When SAFE first came, we had five staff members. When we saw that things were selling so much and we added a night shift, I hired more and more workers. Now we have 12 people!” – Caroline, Owner of Kinda Bakery
Since participating in the SAFE program, Kinda Bakery has experienced the following:
• Increase in production capacity: Due to the technical advice of the SAFE team, Kinda Bakery began operating a night shift on all of the the production lines, increasing the production capacity of the bakery. The bakery is now producing around 10,000 pieces of mandazi a day, as well as up to 400 loaves of bread.
• Increase in revenue: Kinda Bakery increased revenue from KES 2,491,200 (USD ~$24,023) to KES 3,071,410 (USD ~$29,618) in 2017, representing a 23 percent increase in revenue.
• Increase in number of employees: As a result of the increase in production, Kinda bakery Bakery has hired seven additional employees to cover the night shift as well as salespeople. There are now 12 employees at Kinda Bakery.
• Access to new markets: As a result of the marketing strategy and increased visibility of bakery due to the increase in quality, Kinda Bakery is now selling its baked goods in three schools and has aspirations to be the main supplier to all schools in the region, thereby providing children with nutritious foods. Kinda Bakery has also invested in a motorcycle which has improved the distribution of products at a lower cost.
• Cleaner working environment: As a result of the trainings on Good Hygienic Practices, Kinda Bakery now has a regiment cleaning schedule for employees. Each individual is assigned duties on a daily basis to clean the windows, floor and counter tops to ensure the production of quality products.
By The Numbers
Increase in payments to farmers.
Increase in processor revenue.
Increase in production capacity.