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Wanjiru Mambo: Entrepreneur Finds Success in Potato Value Addition after Failed Restaurant Business

Wanjiru Mambo
Wedgehut Foods Limited founder Wanjiru Mambo PHOTO/How We Made it in Africa

Wanjiru Mambo is the founder of Wedgehut Foods Limited, a processing company in Ruiru that deals in potato value addition.

She established the company during the COVID-19 pandemic when she was trying to clear stock from a restaurant that she ran with her partner.

Wanjiru would sell potatoes to her neighbours until she thought of doing value addition, a move that led to the establishment of a fully fledged processing company.

Here is her story as told by EAFeed.

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck the nation, Wanjiru was operating a restaurant in Nairobi’s Upper Hill area alongside her partner.

Shortly after, the government announced a lockdown in parts of the country, including Nairobi, as a preventative step but it drove them out of business.

Unfortunately for them, they had just stocked meat and potatoes not long before the lockdown was announced and promptly effecfed.

“We had no where to take them, I took the potatoes with me and managed to dispose them at my estate. I used to park my pickup at the gate and people would buy it,” she said.

In an interview, Wanjiru said she sold the first batch of potatoes and placed another order for more through her mother in Limuru.

At that point, she began to consider ways to enhance the potatoes’ worth rather than just selling them as is.

“It’s an idea that I had come across from somebody else who, unfortunately, were out of business but they were willing to help me and even sell me some of the equipments that they had,” she said.

Wanjiru started working on the fundamentals, such as registering the company, after gaining access to the necessary documentation.

A processing unit at Wedgehut Foods Limited PHOTO/How We Made It In Africa

She received financial support for the firm from friends and family, especially her husband, who she characterized as being very encouraging.

“It’s been a process, we just acquired the basics that we needed. We started by processing 300 kilos a day and now we’re doing almost five tonnes. It’s a process and you upgrade the machines if need be,” Wanjiru told KTN News.

Under her company, Wedgehut, Wanjiru makes several products including French fries, potato wedges, lyonnaise, potato cubes and whole peeled potatoes.

These products are peeled, cut, cleaned to remove starch, vacuum-packed to reduce oxidation and chilled.

Wanjiru sells her products to schools that serve fries to students, fast food joints and restaurants that don’t do potatoes processing.

She also supplies them to supermarkets including Naivas, Quickmart, Safari Park Hotel, Ole Sereni, Carnivore, Empire Lounge, ChickenInn Java, Galito’s and Strathmore University.

“We do not freeze the products, if you want to do that there is a different process that needs to be followed which includes blanching the potatoes, so we pack and deliver immediately,” Wanjiru said.

In the future, Wedgehut plans to expand into the production of potato flour in a bid to reduce waste and make use of all sourced potatoes including the smaller ones.

“These ‘waste’ potatoes can be crushed and processed into a powder. If we fortify it a bit more, it is perfect as a ready meal. Just add water and you have mashed potato,” notes Wanjiru.

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