“I am not giving up on this business no matter what anyone says,” Mr Steve Kinuthia says as he vigorously stirs an interesting-coloured mix in a glass.
“My wife and I have experienced great and positive changes in our health from just this mix,” he adds as he holds up what he calls a “quail smoothie”.
This is a concoction that he and his wife have been enjoying for breakfast for over a year now, and they swear by its health benefits. The strawberry-coloured liquid contains three raw quail eggs (including the calcium-filled shell), a banana or mango (depending on what fruit is in season) and milk (flavoured or not, depending on one’s taste).
Mr Kinuthia, an IT specialist by training, swears by the quail business he begun over a year ago with a friend, despite the large dip in prices for a quail egg from Sh100 to Sh15 in less than a year.
He continues to sell the eggs, having invested in incubators.
“This smoothie”, he continues “we take it daily in the morning and I don’t feel hungry until about 3pm. Also, I have noticed a major reduction in our visits to the doctor over this year, in addition to feeling healthy and strong.
“My cousin, who struggled with high blood pressure, takes the same smoothie daily and it has helped stabilise his blood pressure.”
Kinuthia goes on to list friends and relatives who swear by increased libido, immunity, more energy and memory retention as a result of consuming one or two quail eggs a day.
Stories have been told and written of individuals and families that invested large amounts of money in the business, including retirement benefits, to set up hatcheries for quails, only to lose their cash.
The sudden drop in the value of the business is said to have been caused by the huge upturn in suppliers while the market was still in its infant stages.
Consumers turned farmers in the hope of cashing in on the greatt market prices for the bird’s produce.
They bought eggs to set up their own hatcheries, not necessarily to sell to consumers, which turned out to be a huge mistake. The customer must always be king for any business to succeed.
“I resisted the prevailing rush to build a supply without considering the market first. Kenyans became so fixated with becoming suppliers that they forgot to ensure they would have someone to sell to. They shot themselves in the foot by following poor business principles. The quail business is not the problem; it is how it was carried out in the first place,” said Kinuthia.
“I continued to meet the needs of my consumers even as I built my hatcheries, and I sold my eggs at a low price to the few customers that I had.”
Kinuthia and others like him are determined to hang on to the quail business and swear by the fact that it is a profitable, but requires wise, not greedy, investors.
Having started his quail business with an initial batch of 200 birds, Kinuthia now has over 600 birds, with each hatching five eggs a week. He says that he has neither made losses nor exorbitant profits since he started his business.
“A number of farmers that I spoke to during the hype about quail eggs agreed with me to keep the prices at Sh20, regardless of the sudden rise in prices, and we have continued with our business without a problem when many have fallen by the wayside.
“We continue to increase our clients slowly but surely because we did not unnecessarily inflate our prices when suppliers were few. Our clients now trust us.”
Using word of mouth, social media platforms, and radio and TV appearances, Kinuthia promoted his business without being greedy, and this way managed to get and maintain a loyal client base.
As many turn away from the business as a result of the negative publicity resulting from unwise entrepreneurship, Kinuthia maintains: “I am hanging on to this business no matter what. Patience is an entrepreneurs’ virtue … as people see my health benefits, my market continues to grow. What we must resist is greed.”