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Classmates’ idea flourishes into Sh20m venture

Yummyz Pizza and Coffee House kenya

Yummyz Pizza and Coffee House kenya

They wear beautiful smiles, giggle and sound confident as they walk through their second fast food outlet.

It was just two years ago when members of Beyond the Horizon, brainstormed on the best business idea.

Right from the concept stage, the idea looked wonderful and profitable. That is what made Beyond the Horizon rank top among tens of other business ideas presented one afternoon at a brainstorming retreat in Naivasha.

Martin Mwangi, one of the partners, had all his life dreamt of running a food outlet but lacked capital to get his vision off the ground.

“I wanted to start up a fast food chain but I had no money,” says Mr Mwangi. “That is why I was delighted that our idea was picked and implemented. Running a food business was what I always wanted to do,” he adds.

Armed with a clear vision of what business they wanted to invest in, the group borrowed Sh1.5 million from a savings and credit co-operative society.

After topping up the amount with their savings to Sh4 million, in February this year the 37-member group opened their first food court in Thika town called Yummyz Pizza and Coffee House.

The success of establishment encouraged the group. They went ahead to consider opening another branch seven months later. This time, the group made an entry in Nakuru town.

In a caravan and loud music, they announced their presence in the town. And within a week, they had made record sales.

“We are targeting a big clientele in Nakuru which comprises residents, travellers and students,” Mr Geoffrey Wachira, the chairman of the group, says.

Nakuru is a cosmopolitan town. It attracts a variety of clients among them tourists.

Beyond the Horizon makes minimum sales of Sh45,000 daily from the three weeks old Nakuru outlet.

The Thika branch has a turnover of at least Sh15,000 per day. Members of the group they invested Sh7 million in the Nakuru outlet.
Space and staff are among expenditures that pushed up their budget.

The Nakuru outlet has twice as many employees as the Thika one. They include three chefs, an accountant and manager and several attendants.

But as members celebrate their success, they acknowledge that the journey has not been easy.

They have had to make monthly contributions and most importantly, invested their time in the venture.

According to Mr Wachira, the idea of running a food outlet was conceived one afternoon when he met Alice Ngugi, one of the group members.

They had arranged for a coffee meeting to catch up on their college days. However, Ms Ngugi tagged along another friend who also happened to be a classmate.

The meeting ended with another appointment. This time, they were to think through the idea of investing as a group in upcoming companies.  A week later the group was born.

According to Mr Wachira, the common desire to succeed pushed them to found the group.

“Most of the members were not doing well financially as much as they had their careers going for them. We decided to form an investment group. This is how the group started,” says Mr Wachira.

In August 2011, they registered the group with 23 members and began investing in other companies. But after some time they thought it was wise to open their own business.

Later, the idea to venture into the food industry was conceived and the group pursued it diligently. They have since grown membership to 37 and capitalisation to Sh20 million.

The food court business is run by Mr Mwangi, a member of the group. At first he volunteered his services but the business was too demanding.

This forced the group to hire him on a full time basis. He now earns a reasonable salary. He has also learnt how to make good use of time. He shares his time between the food chain, his personal business and his young family.

Selling coffee and pizza

“The food business is a very selfish kind of a business. It takes all my time. But I do my best to make good use of available time,” says Mr Mwangi.

The Yummyz food chain specialises in making and selling coffee and pizza. Mr Mwangi says that they use locally available ingredients to make both the coffee and pizza.

“We feel we have enough products in the country to make a good pizza,” adds Mr Wachira.

The group plans to open outlets countrywide. However, they will overlook Nairobi for now.

“Nairobi is too congested with fast food joints. Investing such a business in the city also needs more capital,” says Mr Wachira.

Nairobi is, however, in their future plans. The group will make an entry into the city once it builds a brand and captures patrons in other counties.

-Business Daily

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