22 November 2018

Kenyan Small Enterprises Reap Big From China Import Expo

The director of Centrofood Industries has just returned from the China International Import Expo (CIIE) with orders from Chinese clients.

"The Chinese market could be the catalyst that will propel my company into the big league," Ndirangu told Xinhua on Friday during a reception held by the Chinese embassy in Nairobi.

She said that Chinese consumers were very receptive of her tomato sauce products as she was able to sell all the samples she travelled with to China.

"We have been overwhelmed with inquires and we are now narrowing down to those with the best offers," she added.

Ndirangu said that she hopes to commence shipping her organic brand of tomato sauce to China, beginning January 2019.

"We hope to begin selling small quantities and grow gradually as we develop our products to meet the specific needs of Chinese customers," she added.

Centrofood Industries' current portfolio of products includes chilly and garlic sauce, fruit juices and jams as well as bottled drinking water.

The first CIIE that was held in Shanghai between November 5 and 10.

Kenya, which was represented by President Uhuru Kenyatta, was one of the African countries with a country pavilion.

Austin Mucheso, acting chief manager product, market development and promotion at Export Promotion Council (EPC), said that China is one of the largest importers of goods in the world.

"We are therefore putting all our energy into China to ensure we get our products into the lucrative market," Mucheso said.

He said that Kenyan products that have potential to be successful in China include coffee, tea, macadamia nuts and other manufactured products.

Irene Mumo, director of Trueways Enterprise, also participated in the CIIE. Mumo said that her organic honey emerged as a favorite for Chinese consumers who are embracing healthy foods.

She added that she secured large orders from Chinese consumers and is currently looking for finance to expand her operations.

Mumo noted that another challenge she will face in exporting to the Asian country is lack of enough quantities.

"I therefore plan to begin aggregating honey from small scale farmers from across the country in order to supply to my clients," she revealed.

She observed that in order to penetrate the Chinese market, she will package her products in small dosages in order to ensure that they remain fresh.

Fridah Mbaya also reaped rewards from her participation at the CIIE. The director of Nyumbani Coffee Enterprises hopes to introduce Kenya's renowned coffee to Chinese consumers.

"The only challenge I experienced was the need to upgrade packaging in order to appeal to sophisticated Chinese buyers," Mbaya said.

The women entrepreneur said that she hopes to benefit from the coffee drinking culture that is taking root in major Chinese cities.

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