Banana crisps have become a fast selling commodity in Kenya’s Kisii county thanks to one young entrepreneur who dared to tread an unusual path. There has been an increase in the cultivation of banana lately in the east African country but unfortunately, there seems to be no ready market for the produce. But Askah Nyakwara is trying to fill the void that creates glut.
When I started I was processing 5 kilograms per day but right now I’m processing 1,000 kilograms.
Operating from the Kenyan Industrial Research and Development Institute (KIRDI) in Kisii county, she makes her now famous Ritoke banana crisps. KIRDI runs a banana processing plant that trains and provides research for entrepreneurs looking to develop start-up agribusinesses. The entrepreneurs also get a chance to rent space and equipment at the facility as they work to grow their business. For eight hours a day, Nyakwara’s 12 man team Ritoke Banana Crisps company produces several kilograms of crisps for the market. Askah decided to invest in the production of the crisps because she believed it would be commercially successful.
“Our farmers do not have a ready market for their product, so I decided to add value to our product so that our farmers can have a ready market, two – to prolong the shelf life of our bananas here in Kisii,” said Askah. The increase in her current production is a testimony to her belief in the venture.
“When I started I was processing 5 kilograms per day but right now I’m processing 1,000 kilograms, now as you can see the market is growing and people now have known the product in the market,” she said. Now Ritoke Banana Crisps is expanding its product range to include banana cakes. In Kisii county where the crisps are readily available at supermarkets, they have become the favorite among consumers. Walter Nyakundi, a customer said: “Finally we have our own so I want to appreciate this and I want to tell our locals and even people who traverse this area that – have a taste in this banana crisps. They are really delicious”.
Its crisps are also being exported to clients in Holland.