Date & Timestamp : JUL 2013
Posted : admin, 10 July 2013
By John Mulford, Director of RCE
Michael, a soap manufacturer and entrepreneur, encouraged Bob to join the BDC class because Bob was just starting a peanut butter manufacturing company. Michael, Moses, and I made a trip to see their company- first, to Agape Baptist Church where they have a small (very, very small) office from which they sell product to church members; and then to their home where they manufacture the product. They are following the first “S” of the 5-S BDC motto—start Small.
Bob & Joyce have quite comfortable incomes—both are lawyers—which they use to fund their entrepreneurial dreams. They bought property in an up and coming suburb and built a simple one-story home in 2009. For the next three years, they used all their surplus income (above necessities) to build a nice two-story home. They had hoped to use the first home as their manufacturing plant; however, finances became tight, so they are renting out the single-story home to a family.
That didn’t stop them, though. They are starting their production in the yard and in a spare room of their house.
Start up has been a learning experience for them.
- First, they tried roasting the peanuts in a saucepan over a small, portable propane stove. It took a few days to roast 20 Kg of peanuts and they burned up so much fuel that it became prohibitively expensive.
- Next, they tried a small charcoal stove like a hibachi. It was less expensive to operate, but still very time consuming.
- Finally, their helper suggested building a wood fire in the corner of their yard and using a bigger pan for roasting. But they still have the problem of inconsistent quality of the roast. Some peanuts get burned while others aren’t roasted enough.
- The second step in the process is peeling the skin off the roasted peanuts. This is another time consuming task that can take even longer than the roasting. They do it by hand, outside on a few rough boards.
- Finally, they bring the peeled peanuts inside to grind them in a small electric grinder.
- Recently, the grinder broke down. They had trouble finding parts, which shut down production for a few weeks.
Bob decided he needed to make some investments in equipment if he was really going to do this as a business rather than a hobby. He sold one of his two cars and purchased an electric roaster and a peeler from China—total cost delivered to Mombasa, Kenya about $1,400. Now he is facing a bill of $1,350 to get the equipment from the port in Kenya to his home. That illustrates the challenge to doing business in a land-locked country. The roaster can do about in an hour what is currently taking him two days, and it will give him a consistent roast.
Bob and Joyce are amazing people. They have a dream to supply quality peanut butter to all of East Africa. Bob and Joyce are Kingdom Entrepreneurs. They have a dream from God and the faith to risk much to pursue it. They want to provide good jobs to people throughout the value chain. They want people to see the gospel through their business. In fact, their label has John 3:16 printed right under their name. Some of their friends recommended against that, saying they would alienate non-believers. Recently, people have come up to them and said, “Aren’t you the peanut butter with the Bible verse? We like that.”
I had the opportunity to share stories about small start-ups in the U.S. that grew to large companies, and to pray with them asking God to bless their venture. What a privilege! I have shared so much detail on this business, because most people have no idea what business start-ups go through in any place, but especially in developing nations. It was a great encouragement to me to see Bob & Joyce pursuing their entrepreneurial dream. Bob’s wife, Joyce, says she plans to enroll at the BDC after Bob finishes.