Peterson Maina Muriuki is the Founder of Magical Foods and Juices Limited, a fresh juice and courier service operating in Nairobi, Kenya. His organization delivers fresh fruit juice to several Counties in Kenya, in areas that include Nairobi, Kiambu and Mlolongo.
Muriuki, a seasoned entrepreneur who manages a network of motorcycle riders, believes that empowering the youth should be synonymous with any business model. He says that young people have the potential to shape the future of a country’s economy.
What inspired you to start Magical Foods?
I wanted to help people. Mostly young people. These people are hustling. Their job is to drop their CVs in each and every office thinking that white collar jobs are there. I often meet with young people and I talk to them. I ask them, ‘what is your problem?’ And then I came to realize that many people are discouraged because of a lack of employment opportunities.
I have dropped 20 to 30 CVs in so many offices. None of them called me back, not even for an interview. It gets to a point where you discover that you have reached the end of the road.
What strategies have helped you get to where you are today?
I like to work with groups of people, not individuals. As a group you have an objective. As a group, you have a plan. You can decide on what you want to achieve. And then you set your mind based on that objective. You alone, may fail to meet your objective. But as a group, you can do it. I can be part of a group of 10 people with a Patron, a Chairman and a Treasurer.
Me, I work mostly with Saccos because young people must learn how to save wisely. You have to have a plan. When you wake up in the morning, you have to know where to start, where to end.
You find that some people wander around for an entire day because they don’t have a plan.
What does one need in order to start a successful business?
The first thing you need to do is to identify what you are capable of doing. For example, I am a good motivator. I can motivate people, I can do business. When you identify the business that you want to do, you do something we call research. You need to have proper decision making skills before you venture into any business.
And a business must not be one that has been copied and pasted. You can’t copie someone because their success is not necessarily your success. The first step must be to analyse any business that you are interested in starting.
The second step is to determine how much capital you will need. You need to determine what materials you will need. You need to research the market to determine where your company will make you the most profit. You need to look at things like staff to determine how much manpower you will need. And then you need to look at requirments like licenses and work permits.
What are some of the challenges you have faced since starting your business?
The first thing that I found to be challenging was the requirements. The requirements needed to start a business are very high. Government reforms like devolution have made license and permit fees very high.
Also the cost of medical insurance for employees has risen because of these reforms.
The other problem is what we call competition. Competition is another burden, because in our country we have this habit of to copy and to paste. You start a business and you use a lot of money, but people copy your idea and flood the market with the same businesses.
The other problem in this line of work is that fruits are seasonal so they can get very expensive. You sometimes have to bring them in from other parts of the country.
Transport is another challenge. Because you have to transport the juices. We use motorcycles because of city traffic.
What advice do you have for people joining the job market?
I think young people need to think ahead. Some people take jobs because they have no choice, because they don’t have any other options. And that is one of the biggest mistakes that you can make in your life, to take a job because you don’t have anything to do. I advise people to be specific.
I am also part of a program called Magical Youth Empowerment. It is not for profit. I do it for free because you know consultants are very expensive. So young people or entrepreneurs are not able to access these people. That’s where I come in. I do it just to educate young people.
You find out that some people are educated. Some of them have even done three different courses and not even one of those courses can get them employed. And when young people face these problems, they tend to get into activities like drug abuse, prostitution and crime. They become irresponsible.
So we have to educate these young people on how they can be reliable, how they can be responsible. If we don’t help this young generation, we will not have a future. Our future depends on this young people. They are tomorrow’s leaders.