What you need to know:
- Through iPoP Africa business, Momanyi and her co-founder, Debora Nyanchama, are making snacks from the grains.
- With a Master's degree in food science and nutrition from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), Momanyi’s journey began with a research project on the baobab tree in Kilifi and Kitui counties.
- During her research, Momanyi stumbled upon an interesting breakfast combination of popped sorghum and milk in a house in Kitui.
How often do you consume indigenous grains such as millet and sorghum? Although others enjoy sorghum and millet or amaranth in the form of ugali or porridge, majority of the Gen Zs view the grains as food for the poor.
However, Dorah Momanyi Kwamboka, 30, is changing the narrative by making all classes of people enjoy the indigenous grains.
Through iPoP Africa business, Momanyi and her co-founder, Debora Nyanchama, are making snacks from the grains.
With a Master's degree in food science and nutrition from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), Momanyi’s journey began with a research project on the baobab tree in Kilifi and Kitui counties.
During her research, Momanyi stumbled upon an interesting breakfast combination of popped sorghum and milk in a house in Kitui. Intrigued by this traditional delicacy, she wondered how she could leverage sorghum in modern, convenient food products.
“During the research, I visited a house in Kitui and the family was using sorghum, baobab and milk as their breakfast food. This caught my attention and I decided to explore it further. When I came up with the research idea in Nairobi, my colleagues rejected it, but deep in my heart, I was determined to do it. That’s how my desire to pop natural snacks started,” Momayi told MyNetwork.
In 2021, Momanyi's vision became a reality when a Japanese company introduced a revolutionary machine for popping sorghum. Inspired by this breakthrough, she adopted the popping technology and decided to commercialise her business, reclaiming the sovereignty of indigenous grains.
“My co-founder and I purchased the popping machine on hire purchase. We decided to explore our interests, and that is how the business was born.”
iPoP Africa focuses on providing consumers with convenient, healthy, and nutritious snacks that are free from oil and gluten, while being rich in whole grains.
“Some people are very mindful of their weights. We all know the social insecurities of weight gain, including the risk factors for non-communicable diseases. This is why we offer products that are full of nutrients and at the same time free from contents that accelerate weight gain,” Momanyi added.
The company has developed a range of snacks and breakfast cereals made from various indigenous grains, including yellow indigenous maize, millet (Pearl and finger millet), sorghum (The red and white sorghum), and brown rice.
To further enhance the nutritional value of their products, iPoP Africa fortifies the products through a process called "food-to-food fortification."
This involves incorporating other natural foods, such as almonds, cashew nuts, pumpkins, and a variety of spices like lemon, ginger, and cinnamon to the grain during processing.
The result is a delectable range of snacks that not only taste great but also offer a wealth of essential nutrients.
Aside from their commitment to healthy eating, the company is dedicated to environmental sustainability.
Through their "One snack one tree initiative”, the company plants a tree for every product purchased, promoting reforestation efforts and raising awareness about the importance of preserving nature.
“Our goal is to turn every snacking moment into an act of mitigating and adapting to climate change. At the same time, we are promoting sustainable food systems and improving a smallholder farmers’ income in the indigenous grains value chain.
“Our products are available on our online platform, Green Spoon, which allows customers to conveniently order their favorite snacks and cereals.”
The company has a physical presence along Kangundo Road, where they participate in organic market days, generating a minimum revenue of Sh6,000 per day.
Although a small-scale enterprise, iPoP Africa has managed to create employment opportunities by hiring four part-time workers.
Their success has afforded Momanyi unique opportunities to showcase her innovation on the global stage.
She attended the One Young World Summit in Manchester, UK in September 2022, and traveled to Benin for the Ruforum Conference as a young innovator, receiving a grant award of Sh300,000 for her business.
“I have also attended the Bio Innovate Women Research Fellowship in Uganda in 2021, and learnt so much. This business has opened great doors for me and my co-founder,” Momanyi told MyNetwork.
The company has participated in various exhibitions, where they have proudly showcased their products and attracted attention from potential partners and customers.
Momanyi's journey from a simple research project to a thriving business is testament to her determination and entrepreneurial spirit. Through her business, she is not only revolutionising the snack industry but also empowering local communities by promoting the consumption of indigenous grains and fostering environmental sustainability.
As Momanyi continues to expand her business, she remains committed to her mission of providing delicious, nutritious, and environmentally friendly food options.
“With each bag of our snacks, consumers not only satisfy their taste buds but also contribute to a greener future for generations to come,” she says.