In our segment of #HustleMtaani, Nairobi Leo sat down with Nyambura Munyua. Nyambura has a Facebook page Cottage industries Kenya ARISE with over 16K followers and brings together Cottage Industrialists. 

The Cottage Industry is small-scale manufacturing of goods normally carried out from home backyard using simple machinery and available raw materials. 

Nyambura is actualizing the 'buy Kenya build Kenya' mantra by supporting and encouraging the growth of cottage industrialists in the country as well as marketing their products for clients. 

1. Why the Cottage industries idea? 

I encourage people to engage in Cottage Industries. I have a platform that brings together Cottage Industrialists; we demystify manufacturing by encouraging cottage industrialization.

The Cottage Industry is small-scale manufacturing of goods normally carried out from home backyard using simple machinery, available raw materials, and few employees. They have the potential to grow into full-blown factories and thriving products.

2. When did you start the Facebook Page? 

I founded a group on Facebook called Cottage Industries Kenya Arise in 2020. During the first Covid lockdown in Kenya. I was on holiday during the Chinese New Year holiday and the covid pandemic locked me down in the country. Having lived in China for 6 years, I came to understand the concept of cottage industries and the impact the movement has on the Chinese economy.

The Facebook group was my third attempt at starting a cottage industry movement by encouraging Kenyans to import machinery and processes and not-finished products. While new in China, I visited a Chinese shop that had an array of Kenyan products on display. To my dismay, the Chinese excitedly explained how much he loved Kenyans, as they were able to scale up his business from a cottage industry to a fully-fledged factory that was producing Kenyan counterfeit consumer goods. That was a very disturbing revelation as counterfeiting kills home industries.

One of the products at Cottage Facebook Page 

3. How has the progress and growth of your group been like?

Our growth has been purely organic. We started with five members and we are currently at 16,000. Initially, members associated the name with rental cottages for Airbnb. However, with relentless education on what the Cottage Industry is about the movement is gaining traction and a lot of interest from Kenyans who are supporting Kenyan businesses. I am currently running a Like, Share, Buy campaign caravan aimed at creating awareness about the Kenyan Cottage Industry. The response has been overwhelming. It is my joy to see Kenyans making a deliberate effort to buy and consume Kenyan goods and services.

Fruity jams and jellies

4. What challenges have you learnt along the way?

There are numerous challenges that I have encountered in the journey. Demystifying and educating Kenyans about simple manufacturing has not been easy. Most people have a very negative perception of the government, and the inability for state-owned entities under the ministry of industrialization to undertake aggressive marketing. Many Kenyans are not aware of their existence or mandate. We have many gaps in the customer experience focus. Most of the cottage industries are yet to embrace customer service. A good product with a bad customer experience is dead on arrival.

The African 'sausage' delicacy 

5. Lessons from my experience

 Kenyans are very enterprising and doing a lot of small-scale manufacturing behind closed doors.

 Kenyans are looking for government incentives and subsidies that will support them in cottage manufacturing.

 Numerous investors are looking for scalable cottage industries to invest in.

6. What does the future hold for cottage industrialists?

The future is in manufacturing and now is the time to rise up and take a position. Just identify a need in the market and get running with it.

Handmade soaps 

7. How can people reach you?

We are on Facebook as Cottage Industries Kenya Arise and Instagram as Cottage Industries254

8. What message do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Patience and consistency pays, start small and believe in your own dream. Be your own cheerleader and have an abundance mentality and spirit. 

Here are some of the products on Cottage Facebook Page: