This family should get together so that they can identify what is ailing them. It’s like there is a spirit that wants to destroy this family...
Martin Gicheru and Irene Munga created a smart jiko dubbed Wiltmart Energy-saving Jiko, which is turning up the heat in kitchens across the country
What does your company deal in?
Our company mainly focuses on environmental conservation by reducing fuel consumption. We make renewable energy resources by use of natural resources.
How did you come up with the idea of converting soil into money?
The idea was first born when we both lost our jobs. Life became tough and all we could think was to venture into a business that would require less capital. At the same time, we wanted something unique to avoid competition. We decided to try bio digester but it didn’t work out for us. It’s from there that the idea of energy saving jiko poped in.
How was your experience actualizing the idea into a real project?
It was a bit challenging but we knew it was a journey we were to take regardless of the circumstances. However turning it into real products was another headache. We began by researching on the internet unique items made from soil. We also approached some of our few friends who had experience in soil business. After compiling all the information, we were ready to take off. We gave trial of our first jiko, gave it a week before we tested and by good luck it came out 75% perfect. People around loved it and that’s when we took off and from there we have never looked back. Even though we encountered financial difficulty as we were making trials but within no time, things started working out.
What makes your jiko different from the ordinary ones?
Our jikos use less fuel, they are very economical and produce less smoke. Its something that one will use for a lifetime.
Why do you fix the jikos permanently?
We make both permanent and portable jikos, but we mostly major on permanent ones due to the durability and mode of transportation.
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Do you only fix in cemented rooms?
We fix in both cemented and non-cemented houses. We erect the jikos countrywide which is a great advantage to people living upcountry.
How much do you charge for the entire setup?
Out services ranges from Sh25,000-Sh35,000 depending on the size, type and the purpose. Our jiko is classified into domestic and commercial.
How come the jiko is as costly as cooking gas?
Its due to the time we use to construct, and set it up. Also we have a lifetime guarantee on the jiko so it .
For how long should one wait before starting using it?
After constructing, it takes 7-14 days for one to begin using depending on the area environment. The humidity of the area is the determiner.
What kind of challenges do you face in this business and how do you overcome them?
The main challenge we encounter is convincing our clients especially when it comes to pricing. It takes a lot of effort to educate them on impact of our jiko against the cooker. Transportation of the portable ones is also tricky as some crack upon delivery; but so far we are slowly overcoming them by first taking our clients through the process before settling on an agreement.
Which type of clay soil do you use?
We use red clay soil since it is easily compatible with heat and also very compatible with other materials.
Sometime clay products disappoint, are there incidences where you are recalled to fix the cracked jiko?
At the beginning it used to be one of our main challenges, but so far it rarely happens unless one didn’t wait up to the advised days before use. But in case it happens, we fix at no extra charge.
Do the jikos have a temperature limit?
Our jikos use moderate temperature since heat is usually contained inside the jiko, so there is no match heat lost outside but it is enough to cook the food well.