Against All Odds - Visually Impaired Googled her business
by OpinionKenya Posted on 16/09/2013
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Florence Gaturi Nyaga is enabled differently. Having lost her ability to see in 2005, she was in despair. Eight years later, she is the CEO and proprietor of Yoj Enterprises, producing high quality Yoj Peanut Butter. Florence is a practicing counselor and is currently pursuing her PHD in Counseling Psychology at Kenyatta University.

The journey to where she is has not been easy. When the doctors told her that retinal detachment was irreversible, she was highly discouraged and life almost seemed to have come to a sad ending. However, with a young daughter Joy (from where the name YOJ is derived), Florence could not afford to give up. She joined Machakos School for the Blind and later the Kenya Society for the blind.

In August 2012, Florence was invited by a friend to attend a conference organized by the National Council for People with Disability. The event saw several physically challenged people demonstrate what they were doing to edge a living. There was a particular women's group which had discovered the art of making peanut butter.  Florence began thinking about the peanut butter idea, never mind that she could not see the demonstration. 

As soon as she got home, Florence began searching for information online about peanut butter; its making and the nutritional advantages. Using a software which reads content in computers for blind people, Florence began preparing information in readiness to start her business.

One of the things she loved most about peanut butter is that is is cholesterol free. This makes it good for people with diabetes, whom, if not well taken care of end up being blind. Most visually impaired people began by being diabetic. Taking peanut butter would not only reduce the chances of losing sight but would also make a living for Florence and her daughter.

After a lengthy online search for the peanut butter roasting and grinding machine, Florence could not get any local manufacturer. However, a friend directed her to a Chinese factory in Industrial Area of Nairobi City. Armed with only a stick and undying determination, Florence stepped out of her home in Zimmerman and made her way into the factory. When the Chinese men in the factory saw her, they were deeply moved by her determination and offered to give her the machine at a special price. However, at that time they were out of stock and the next consignment was in the high seas.

Florence required 50,000 Kshs to buy and get the grinder to her home and production house in Zimmerman Estate. She did not have that much money.  She was at that time pursuing her Masters in Counseling Psychology, educating her daughter and had a guide to pay, not to mention the other recurring bills. However, where there is a will there is a way. Florence deep passion and the will to start her own business made a way for her when Special Needs Empowerment Program (SNEP) assisted her in raising the 50,000 Kshs.

Florence was now good to go. She immediately employed two staff members and took them trough a training on how to make the peanut butter. She also got certification from Kenya Bureau of Standards which saw her product licensed to carry the Diamond Mark of Quality. She also purchased barcodes and went on to package the peanut butter in a most modern way, ready for sale in any Supermarket.

Initially, Florence would sell to friends and family. Most of them came back for more and this encouraged her to boost production. Within no time, she was supplying to local mini-marts and retail shops. Currently she is working hard to ensure that the product gets to the shelves of major supermarkets in the country. In the meantime, she is exploring other markets, among them online marketing. See the Yoj Peanut Butter shop here.

The future is very bright for Florence despite her inability to see. She is now an employer and hoping to expand her business. The next big thing for Yoj is increasing production. Florence has plans to purchase a Peanut Roaster, one which costs 120,000 Kshs. Left to the business, this money is a lot to raise but Florence has a n iron strong will to get the roaster. She has already written to several organisations for funding and is expecting positive feedback.

Other than the roaster, the increasingly fluctuating price of peanuts is a big challenge. This makes the price of Yoj Peanut Butter vary and is not good for the customers who like prior planning before purchasing. Yoj Enterprises is also looking for distributors for the fast moving Yoj Peanut Butter. Currently, the peanut butter can be ordered online or found in some mini-marts especially along Thika Road.

If you wish to be a distributor, please fell free to email us on yoj@opinionkenya.com and we will get back to you.

 

 

 




   

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