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Authentic Swahili Foods scales up through IIA SME capacity building

In 2019, Invest in Africa (IIA) partnered with Base Titanium, a mining multinational operating in Coastal Kenya, to harness and increase opportunities for local suppliers in Kwale county. Under this partnership IIA has continued to front capacity building for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to enable them to access more market and opportunities availed through the miner’s activities.  

Authentic Swahili Foods, an agribusiness startup located in Kwale County is among the SMEs who have benefitted from IIA capacity building programs, specifically enabling it to penetrate the market effectively. Mr. Suleiman Musa, one of the co- founders of Authentic Swahili Foods, expresses his contentment and joy in enrolling in a business coaching plan, that was implemented for SMEs under the IIA SME Covid-19 Recovery and Resilience program.

As a startup, Authentic Swahili Foods faced challenges in adapting to rapidly changing trends as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. According to Mr. Suleiman Musa, the business development coaching came at the right time when the business was struggling to penetrate the market with its new products. “Through the coaching we were able to scale our product marketing. The coach enabled us to realize that our product packaging did not meet the market standards, so we redesigned it and even targeted new customers” Musa explained during an interview with IIA. According to Musa, this has enabled the business to sell to more customers as opposed to selling to just students who were previously their only target. 

In addition, the coaching enabled the business to design a new business model that has put it on a clear growth trajectory.  Musa said that, by defining the customer value proposition in the new model and designing a marketing strategy, they are now able to predict the revenue returns of the business. This places emphasis on a brighter future for the business which Musa confirms that the coaching was pivotal in setting up the business for continuous growth.

"We are confident that in three years time,  the company will have more product varieties in the market.  We are looking forward to reaching more market nationwide" Suleiman said. 

Authentic Swahili Foods is among the many SMEs who have significantly benefited from IIA’s SME Covid-19 recovery and resilience programs. The program, that has impacted over 3500 SMEs in Kenya so far, is aimed at accelerating the capacity of the businesses to scale up and beat possible market disruptions.