Kamotho Njiru is Nawiri Plant founder. He links farmers directly to consumers and also looks for a market for their produce. He opens up about his journey.
How did you get started as an aggregator?
When I cleared campus in 2018, I joined my brother’s 80-acre farm in Naivasha. Being new to the farming business, we did not do our due diligence to find out the needs of the market. We planted potatoes and when harvest time came, we knew not where to take the 100 tonnes of potatoes we had produced. I was therefore tasked with looking for a market for potatoes. It was tough. I did not know that I had to use brokers to sell to brokers in Marikiti market. In the end, we did not even recoup our production costs. From this experience, I realised many farmers faced the same issues. That is when I started Nawiri, which links farmers directly to the consumer and also looks for a market for their produce.
Besides cheaper prices by bypassing middlemen, how does the consumer benefit?
Traceability. It enables the consumer to locate when and where the product was produced and by whom. This supports the accurate withdrawal or recall of unsafe food if required. We realised that more people are becoming aware of their health and are inclining toward healthy and organic foods. Also, due to lifestyle diseases, people are more careful about what they eat.
How has the concept of packages aided the grocery business?
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For those living abroad and would want to support their parents back home, we have grocery packages to which they can subscribe. We then deliver the packages depending on the frequency agreed - weekly, bi-weekly, monthly. The packages also relieve customers of the pain of having to put together a shopping list.
You recently revamped your website. Are there any downsides to shopping for groceries online?
I only see the upsides to having a website. For example, with the World Cup happening in Qatar from November 20, Emirates has been reaching out to aggregators in Kenya and Tanzania to supply them with organic ingredients. When you have a website, it becomes easy for them to locate you. Many of them visited the farm. After they gave a go-ahead, I started the aggregating process and later export to Qatar.
What trends have you noticed among your clientele?
They love apples and flowers. They also shop on Saturdays a lot, especially month-end. Most people are not aware of the exotic fruits available like soursop. We use our platform to create awareness of these kinds of fruits, which happen to be very nutritious.