Harry Njenga at his eatery. [Silas Nyamweya, Standard]

Harry Njenga, also known as Papa Shungush because of his fondness for rabbits, never imagined he would be opening a rabbit meat eatery in Nairobi. However, two of his friends paid him a visit at his home in Umoja estate and found him eating rabbit meat he had prepared. They shared the meal, and the friends enjoyed its delicious taste and were blown away by his culinary skills.

They persisted in persuading him to open a rabbit meat-only restaurant, promising to be regular customers at his establishment.

After a while, he succumbed to the pressure and decided to open a canteen in Umoja market. He approached the local MP, George Theuri, who agreed to give him a spot at the Umoja 1 Business Incubation Hub, where he is now running his business.

He began with offers in which customers could obtain products at reduced prices. They began to flock in large numbers two weeks later. To meet the high demand, he had to raise his stock as well as the rates. 

Rabbit meat

Njenga’s restaurant has now been open for six months, but he says he is still unable to meet the high demand in the area. Another impediment jeopardising the business’s sustainability is a lack of stock due to a limited number of people keeping rabbits.

“So far, the response has been outstanding.  It far exceeded our expectations. We usually open for about three hours and are sometimes forced to close due to a lack of stock,” Njenga told City Biz.

Njenga says on a good day, he can earn between Sh3,000 and Sh5,000. On a good day, however, sales can double if there is enough stock and the business is open full time.

He gets his stock from Umoja Urban Farmers, a local cooperative, and other individual farmers in his network. However, he is currently planning a massive outsourcing drive to ensure his restaurant always has enough stock.

Njenga also says that while selling live rabbits is more profitable than slaughtering and preparing rabbit meat for customers, there is a lack of consistency in that market compared to rabbit meat.

“Selling live rabbits to breeders is more profitable, but the market is volatile.However, there is a consistent and massive demand for rabbit meat,” he says.

Njenga sees more prospects and opportunities in the business than he anticipated based on the high demand.

“Yes, the business promises to be profitable because many people have yet to taste rabbit meat.

This is why we are flooded with customers when we first open. We don’t even have any raw rabbit meat in the freezer. “Our demand exceeds our supply,” Njenga explains.

He attributes his success to the absence of competitors. And this distinguishes him.

“There is no other similar business in our area.” I don’t know of any other place that sells rabbit meat.”

Njenga also advises Kenyans to eat rabbit meat because it is “the most delicious and nutritious white meat in the market.”

“Rabbit meat is the most nutritious and delectable white meat in the market.” It contains the most protein and the least cholesterol, making it suitable for people of all ages. It is even suitable for heart patients.

Rabbit is also high in calcium and phosphorus, as well as a good source of vitamin B12 and niacin. “Rabbit has a high meat-to-bone ratio, so there is more edible meat than even a chicken,” Njenga said.

Based on this opportunity, Njenga intends to expand into a fully equipped rabbit meat processing unit in order to add value.