Enterprise : Meet Muhammed Njagala , the porridge maker
Posted Tuesday, January 22 2013 at 02:00
The types. He makes different types of porridge ranging from pumpkin, oats, rice, milk and soya.
Porridge, the nutritional breakfast staple for infants, is what Mr Muhammed Njagala, the 35-year-old entrepreneur makes to earn a living.
Through the Child Nutrition Project, Mr Njagala makes different types of porridge ranging from pumpkin, oats, rice, milk to soya, all of which attract many customers. Mr Njagala parts with at least Shs1.2 million for the porridge sales monthly.
“The ingredients of my products are weighed in proper quantities and that is what my customers cherish most. Unlike other porridge types that are pre-packed, my porridge is weighed on a weighing machine before the customer to ascertain value for money,” Mr Njagala said.
Mr Njagala set out to start this initiative in 2009 with production of coffee as beverage and soya powder. However, the beverage market was too concentrated, that he decided to move into manufacturing children’s food.
“I decided to move into porridge production because I noticed there was a wide gap and big market awaiting exploitation. People give birth everyday and these children consume heavily,” Mr Njagala explained recently in an interview with Prosper magazine.
He processes this food from Zana, off Entebbe road, where the manufacturing plant is stationed. Here, oats are imported from Dar-es-Salaam, soya from Congo and Kasese, maize from Jinja and rice from Paidha and Mbale districts are processed into consumable powders.
Asked about the secret of making his product consumable, Mr Njagala says he roasts the soya beans before crushing them into a fine powder. The rice, maize and oats are ground.
“When these powders are mixed, they make good porridge powder which is nutritious for babies.”
These powders are then transported from Entebbe road to Kampala to his shop at Mukwano arcade, where retail and whole sale purchases are made.
And his customers testify. Ms Grace Nansubuga, a trader in Kikuubo and buyer of Mr Njagala’s products says that the oats porridge in particular, is bought occasionally for her six-month old grandson for his nourishment.
“He loves it and takes it daily. He is so healthy, chubby and hardly gets sick, I guess this porridge is what does all these wonders,” she shares.
A well mixed package of porridge powder contains oats flour, sugar, non-fat dry milk, mineral mix and vitamin mix that is, potassium chloride, potassium citrate, calcium carbonate, salt zinc sulphate, manganese sulphate, vitamin D3, E, A, Floxide and vanilla.
“With this, the porridge is complete and the child is assured of all nutrients.”
Over the years, market for Mr Njagala’s products has grown with more consumers ordering for them as a healthy breakfast choice. This has also increased sales.
Today, he not only distributes to tens of outlets, up from two supermarkets initially, but also operates a shop in Kikuubo, Kampala. And at his shop alone, he serves at least 50 customers daily, a figure higher than the four customers he used to serve at the start of his business.
Like any growing business, the hiccups are unavoidable. The fluctuating price for the different raw materials of porridge is his major challenge.
“Importation costs for oats are alarming in addition to the market prices. We used to buy these cereals at lower prices but with the fluctuation in the Shilling against the [US] dollar, we buy these cereals expensively,” he says.
Since the depreciation of the Shilling in 2011 when it hit a low of Shs2,900 against the dollar, his business has been affected. The high price of raw materials translated to consumers in form of higher prices, has discouraged some potential buyers.