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Peter Kuguru: How Softa Soda Owner Endured Unfair Competition, From Breaking Of Company Bottles To Destroying Billboards

Peter Kuguru: How Softa Soda Owner Endured Unfair Competition, From Breaking Of Company Bottles To Destroying Billboards

Peter Kuguru is a trailblazer in the world of Business. Often referred to as the man who dared soft drink giant Coca Cola, he established softa, a soft drink that became loved by many children in the late 90s and early 2000s. His journey, however, begins in colonial Kenya where as a young person he experienced the upheavals and hardships of the British era.

He is the founder of Kuguru Food Complex Limited, a top beverage manufacturer. He went on to have different subsidiaries including: Softa Bottling Company, Cateress Milling Sanitary Pads and Diapers International and Just Real Estate.

Education and Early Career

The seasoned businessman graduated with a Bachelors degree in Food Technology from Massey University in 1972.

He then went on to serve as the Chief chemist at Kenya Commercial Creameries, and later as the production manager at house of Manji. He would later become one of the founders of Kenya Bureau of Standards.


Despite having a good job, he desired to venture into entrepreneurship and in 1975 began producing snacks including potato crisps at his home.

In 1978, he left employments and ventured into catering and baking. After acquiring a multi million loan from the bank, he started manufacturing a South African sorghum beer named Chibuku.

The brand was a success and this encouraged them to start producing more foods. They ventured into maize milling but soon his alcohol drinks venture was stifled due to what they termed as an unfair playground.

Softa and other ventures

Since he had already established connections in the beverage world, he decided to take a plunge into soft drinks manufacturing. This was how the idea of softa was introduced.

They set up the bottling company and in 1998, Softa was launched with different flavors from cola, orange, bitter lemon, pineapple to lemonade.

The drinks became a hit and they used vernacular radio stations for advertisements. However, he would later say that their competitors began rising against them.

Not only did they begin using the stations but they also went after their distributors advising them against selling their products. He also told The Standard that competitors went physical and broke down bottles and tore down billboards.

This got to them and they stopped distributing the drinks countrywide and focused on the central market.

They also ventured into manufacturing of juice, water, animal feeds, sanitary towels and diapers in order to streamline their income. They were inspired to create a leak-proof pad using Chinese technology.

The end of softa

In November 2016, the company announced that Softa was exiting the market after they failed to sustain operations despite venturing into manufacturing of bottled water, and production of sanitary pads and diapers in order to stay afloat.

At the time, the factory consisted of bottling line, water treatment plant, syrup room, chiller, carbon dioxide plant, crates, bottles, and boilers. While they sold some assets, others remained as part of Kuguru Foods.

His other company Cateress Milling produces Cateress maize flour and Mpishi. Kuguru was founded by him and his wife in 1988 before they incorporated other family members.


The businessman released a book titled Trailblazer: Breaking through on Kenya. Here, he has detailed his life growing up during the fight for independence and his political journey. He has talked about the dirty tricks in politics.


The married father of 9 is the son of the late Davidson Ngibuini, who was reportedly a powerful minister during the Jomo Kenyatta and Moi era.

He served as the member of parliament for Mathira constituency and was said to have 7 wives and about 45 children. It is also reported that rather than give his children an inheritance, they bought it from him with Peter being among his first children to buy land from the father.

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