From hawking porridge to building a milling enterprise

Maize Flour Milling Machine Mill Machine for Porridge

Ambitious man breaks the mold to achieve great gains in the business world

By Hustle Correspondent

When Patrick Hunja sat for his secondary school examinations in 2002, he realized that his chances of proceeding to a tertiary institution were quickly diminishing; his family did not have any funds to finance his university education. Not one to give up easily, he eked a living working in a nearby poshomill. A resilient and hardworking man, he worked diligently, learning the ropes of the milling business.
Although the job was fulfilling and catered for his basic needs, he realized that he wasn’t cut for employment and quit his job.
Entrepreneurship was beckoning, and the easiest way to start was to join his mother at the coastal town of Mombasa, where she hawked porridge at construction sites.
Once in Mombasa, Hunja worked hard. As a people person, he didn’t have any trouble to get people to try his porridge. He worked so hard that he added more than 100 customers in the first six months.
With a booming business, and a growing client base, Hunja knew it was time to go it alone. With his savings of Kes20000, and the skills he had acquired while working as an apprentice at his mother’s porridge business, he launched his own business; making and selling porridge. He rented out a small room at the nearby Kongowea market which he converted into a kitchen, with the bare minimum kitchen utensils that enabled him to make and sell porridge.
“I could sell five jerricans of porridge each day, with a mug going for Kes5,” says the young entrepreneur who schooled at Kiarithaini Secondary School in Karatina.
Hunja’s business was flourishing. The most successful people never settle for less, and Hunja knows this only too well. That’s why he decided to diversify his business to set it up for the next phase of growth.
In 2006, he plunged into the flour distribution business to address a huge gap that he had noticed while selling porridge.
From a porridge seller, he wanted to become the premier porridge flour distributor in the coastal region. To kickstart his new kline of business, he could travel to as far as Western Kenya and Tanzania to buy cereals, which he could mill to make flour, to be sold to retailers and to other porridge sellers in the area.
They say that every enterpreuner has his Eureka moment, and Hunja’s came in the form of the milling enterprise that he had just started. The new line of business was blossoming with every passing day. It grew tremendously, to a point where the budding businessman launched his first milling plant.
With his savings of Kes2500000, Hunja set out on a journey to start a small milling plant in Mombasa. His idea, which has since turned into UjiVita enterprises, has paid off handsomely.
Today, it has grown into five milling plants spread across Lamu, Kilifi, Malindi and Mombasa. With a milling capacity of over 144 tons per year, his is not a small outfit. Besides, he also owns and operates Patrimut Enterprises, a transport company that runs five long haul trucks. The company also transports most of his flours to different parts of the country.

How did he do it?
“I have come to appreciate the role of financial institutions when it comes to growing a business,“ he says. Over the years, he has banked on loans to grow his firm.
However, he says that working with borrowed capital calls for diligence and discipline, as there’s always a temptation to divert the funds to other uses. Other than that, Hunja says that it takes patience to run and grow a business.
Having achieved so much in the world of business, he says he isn’t settling into a comfort zone any time soon. “I want to first grow my business to a point where it becomes a household name in Kenya and in the region.”


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