Keneth Ndua is an enthusiastic entrepreneur from Nairobi (Kenya) currently attending the 5h edition of E4Impact MBA at Tangaza University College. On the 25th of February 2016 he pitched and won the Grand Challenges Africa thanks to his business STAMP Investment Holdings LTD that produces stoves that purify water.

“My business idea was born in 2012 and since then we’ve made great steps in business development and social transformation.” he told us as we asked about STAMP Investment. He has over 15 years’ experience in implementation of Sustainable livelihoods development, Climate change mitigation and adaptation, innovation, advocacy HIV and AIDS Programmes targeting children, women and youths in urban informal settlements and rural areas.

Now let’s get to know him better!

  1. What is your business about?

STAMP Investments distributes briquettes and multitasking fuel efficient stoves, which enables schools and households in Kenya have access to safe drinking water. This leads to a reduction in water borne diseases and save time and fuel costs (75 %) while cooking.

  1. How can your business improve the life of the beneficiaries of your activities? Can you give us an example of this improvement?

Sanitizing  water using the Jiko Kenya stove reduced the attacks by water borne diseases by 70 % in our case study areas mainly Kitui County-Mwingi (Enziu village), Kiambu county-Thika (Kiganjo village) and Killifi County – (Marembo village), where access to clean drinking water remains a big a challenge. It also reduced the costs of going to health centers for treatment in relation to water borne related sicknesses.  In Enzio Mwingi 70 % of the study groups now have clean water bottles where they store the sanitized water to avoid recontamination. Children under the study were observed to carry sanitized water to the schools every day. Majority of them would share the same with other children. The study reported also 70% reduction in fuel costs compared to previous three stove fire.  90% indicated a significant reduction in teary eyes while cooking in their kitchen, coughing and chest congestion for the women. 66.7% of the the respondent from Kiganjo village indicated that no one in the family members had been sick since they started using the Jiko Kenya (Eco’s) stove. The three groups had been noted to boil water not less than 3 times in a day because the stove forced them to boil water as they cooked. Children played an enormous role in reminding their parents the need to boil water using the stove during cooking. They were able to boil up to 10 liters in a day due to the fact that the Jiko Kenya (Eco’s) stove boils 3 liters at a time

  1. What has been the main challenge you had to overcome in your entrepreneurial experience? How have you managed to overcome it?

Major challenge has been fabricating and getting the right enterprenuaral team. I have been working at outsourcing fabrication services and I have also changed my business model whereby I both sell directly to customers and to vendors to cut costs.

  1. Could you tell us something about your performance at the Grand Challenges Africa?.

I prepared my pitch and shared it out with the organization communication manager for feedback.  The pitch had headings only and photos that explained the process of the business and the impact. It also explained the reason why my business and product is different from other cook stoves around. During the pitch I had the product with me so it was easy to explain the features. Eye contact with the judges and with the audience was crucial. I knew my product well and spent less looking at the slides.

  1. In your opinion, what are the main qualities an entrepreneur should have?

I can resume it in 6 points: 1) Know your product and competitive edge; 2) Stay ahead of your game and always listen to the customer feedback and needs; 3) Avoid copying, try to do things differently; 4) Be honest and where you know you can’t deliver tell the client or customer; 5) Know even to move on and not get stuck at one product that’s not moving; 6) Be resilient and not give up easily

  1. Is there a person you are inspired by, i.e. an entrepreneur or a particular mentor?

Surely Steve jobs the way he never gave up even when sacrificed by people he trusted.

7. What would you suggest to a new-born entrepreneur?

  • Always seek advice from entrepreneur’s who have been in the field for some time and those with services and products that are close to what you have.
  • Seek for mentorship and particularly for professional mentors who have the experience and have credible record.
  • Do your ground work well, research and consult your customers widely before you engage in the enterprise. See if there is a need for your product , how different is it from what others have and what is your competition doing differently
  • Never rush into taking loans to start a business , start with what you have and only look for money only when necessary
  • Entrepreneurship is not easy, many have given up but many also never gave up and they managed.
  • Innovation in product development, delivery is the secret to successful enterprises

8. Could you tell us a particular satisfactory moment you had in your entrepreneurial activity?

The most memorable moment was when some children were being interviewed by some journalists and they had this smile as one of them said the difference the stove has brought into her life. To quote “I never miss school because of stomach aches and amoeba for the last 6 months. The water from the stove has made all the changes.”

9. Why have you decided to enroll in this MBA?

I felt I was making many mistakes in my business and needed training in social entrepreneurship. I searched around and even enrolled for a PHD program and realized it was the wrong strategy. The approach of E4Impact of allowing one to pitch their business before enrolling was unique and this attracted me. The aspect of working with my business during the MBA and not being forced by professors to study what they felt was better was quite attractive for me. The structuring of the course in form of timing and modules was attractive to me.

10. Could you tell us how the MBA has helped you and your business?

The MBA brought a pardigm shift in my way of running the enterprise. Key was changing my business model to cut on unnecessary costs. The pitching sessions and coaching enabled me refine my skills. The linkages and being invited to pitch before investors is great and the students is able to work on their competences. During a pitch to open capital and Sankalp the feedback was great and I was able to refine my business using the feedback. The mentorship process has been the best since the coaches work with you from where you are and develop the process that enable you achieve your goals.

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