A Kenyan entrepreneur manufacturing cellphone and laptop charging cables has been shortlisted for a continental award that spotlights entrepreneurial excellence.
Kirinyaga-based Anthony Muthungu, who runs Totosci Holdings, has been shortlisted for the Kenya-South Africa Chamber of Business award under the technology category, along with three other contenders.
“I am elated to be among the participants of the conference that will be held in November in South Africa. It means that our work is being noticed and it pushes our morale to keep doing better,” Mr Muthungu told the Nation yesterday.
The two-day forum will push African governments to create an environment that will attract domestic and international investment. One of the four shortlisted companies that garners the most votes will take the award home.
“I am hoping that we win by garnering as many votes from family and friends… and even if we do not bring it home, it does not mean that one’s idea is inferior,” he said.
Mr Muthungu, a fresh university graduate and a teacher by profession, has manufactured 9,000 USB cables, of which 1,619 have been sold in less than three months.
Each cable sells for Sh300 and this means he has pocketed Sh485,700 since August 13, when his sales business opened.
His charging cables are in high demand, he says.
"I have no complaints, because my business is attracting customers every day," he said, adding that he has distributors helping him to market his products.
Mr Muthungu said that although his cables are more expensive than imported ones from China and other countries, customers still prefer them because of their high quality.
His manufacturing base in Kiangwaci, Kirinyaga, becoming the first Kenyan to venture into such a business.
Born in Tetu, Nyeri County, Mr Muthungu always dreamed of being self-employed and this explains why he took eight years to graduate from Karatina University.
He enrolled in 2013 but it was not until 2020 that he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in science. He majored in physics and mathematics.
While in the university, he would study for one year and then leave to do his own work making wheelchairs for the disabled.
"I kept deferring because I wanted to learn while gaining experience on how to be self-employed," he said.
When he completed his studies, he embarked on making Covid-19 ventilators to earn a living.
The idea of manufacturing the devices arose from his experience of buying substandard USB cables that did not work.
"The USB cables I bought for use would discharge from the phone instead of charging and I felt I didn't get value for my money," he said.
Through his company, Mr Muthungu started researching how to make cables. At first he bought some faulty phone cables, each for Sh10, from the residents and took time to study them.
He spent time researching why the cables and connectors in the market failed. After the research, Mr Muthungu made up his mind to start the business.
With Sh2 million in initial capital from his savings, friends and family, Mr Muthungu bought a Sh480,000 manufacturing machine from China and raw materials. He rented a building belonging to Kenya Industrial Estates and started making cables.
He uses normal copper wires and other materials bought locally. To cut production costs, Mr Muthungu sometimes uses recycled plastic waste.
The plastic waste materials are collected from markets and villages and then melted at the factory before they become useful insulators for the cables.
Mr Muthungu has 12 workers, most of whom are university graduates.
He manufactures type C iPhone and Android chargers.
The company has the capacity to manufacture half a million cables annually.
The cables are approved by Kenya Bureau of Standards and certified by the Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency as a ‘Made in Kenya’ product.