For close to 90 years, no Kenyan dared enter the beer market. It took one woman,TABITHA KARANJA, to jump into the dreaded unfair ground for it to move and she, to take her rightful place in the industry.
Tabitha Mukami Karanja needs no introduction to Kenyans. When the history of astute businesswomen in the continent is written, her part will occupy a generous segment in the record. Her determination to set up a brewery in a country where one company dominated the sector is well documented.
Here is the interview:
What was your first job? I worked as a librarian with a government parastatal. I later started a hardware business.
What challenges did you face while starting up Keroche Industry?
I battled with banks unwilling to part with desperately needed start-up capital, wealthy and exclusive competitors, uncooperative government officials and even a shut-down of my offices.
Who had the biggest impact on your career and why?
My family. I have always felt the responsibility to succeed and never fail them. They have also held me up and encouraged me during tough times.
What keeps you awake at night?
I owe the success of Keroche Breweries to Kenyans who decided to support me no matter what. How to satisfy our customers keeps me awake. We are currently thinking of expanding the beer section. I will be at ease when I know Kenyans can get constant and regular supply of their beer throughout the country.
What are the top reasons for your success in business? Having a vision, a dream and a cause. Hard work and resilience have also been key. Finding the right team to work with you is also paramount.
What challenges have you had to deal with in recent years?
In 2003 over ten depots in Central Province were raided by the provincial administration. I almost gave up as many forces including politicians and provincial administration conspired to bring down her emerging business.
But when I thought of my dreams crumbling down, I would get renewed energy and this motivated and made me stronger.
Most recently as politicians campaigned their way around Kenya, Tabitha came forward to say the Uhuruto were posing a threat over her business since they had asked Kenyans to steer away from her beer.
What are your future career plans?
My future lies here at Keroche Breweries. Right now our focus is to build more on the five year strategic plan for the company. We are hoping to fully increase our market share in Kenya to 30% and 20% in the spirit and beer markets respectively.
Then we hope in the next three years to explore the East African market before finally going African. My dream is to see Keroche grow to the whole of Africa.
What is your message for Africa’s aspiring young business people and entrepreneurs?
In whatever you do, money shouldn’t be your only objective.A mother of two boys and two girls, Karanja always has time for the family despite her busy schedule. She says that in most cases, dinners are shared and birthdays are marked in a special way as ‘family is the best thing in her busy schedule’. Her advice to fellow women it to be strong and not to shy off from their dreams as nothing is impossible.“I knew what I wanted in life and I worked day and night to achieve it and here I am.”Tabitha says.
Source-How we made it in Africa