In August 2018, Samuel Mboya graduated from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology with a degree in Procurement and Contract Management.
Instead of idling around while waiting for a job, he turned to his hobby – making donuts.
Today, the 23-year-old is the sole proprietor of Donut Thrills KE, a start-up that makes donuts in different flavours and sells them mostly to students.
“I started making donuts as a hobby when I was still in university. The idea was to get some money to supplement the pocket money I got from my parents. After I graduated, I started taking the baking business seriously because I was out of school and had bills to pay,” he says.
It is now a year since Samuel embarked on this venture as a full-time job. And so far, he is able to take care of his basic needs.
What’s more, he has bought two more doughnut-making machines, and once in a while employs a couple of young people on contract to help with production and distribution.
“I was taught how to make donuts by a friend. Initially, I was doing it just for fun. I helped her do deliveries, and she taught me how to bake. When I decided to make donuts for sale, she gave me the necessary equipment and I started to bake them at home,” he explains.
Initially, he made just about 10 packets a day. But when he decided to transform his passion into business, he started making up to 40 packets a day depending on demand. He needed to sell more to meet his expenses.
On average, Samuel makes 10 packets, which cost him between Sh600 and Sh700.
His basic ingredients include flour, sugar, baking powder, milk, butter and essence (depending on the flavour).
He sells the plain donuts for Sh150 a packet, Sh180 for the dark chocolate type, and Sh200 for the white chocolate kind. An assorted pack goes for Sh200.
“I market my products primarily on social media, and through referrals from happy clients. I have also set up a website, www.donutthrillzke.com, to make it possible for clients to order and purchase the donuts online.
"The special aspect about my donuts is that I bake them, rather than deep-fry, which gives them a unique taste. I set up the website four months ago when I realised I needed a stronger online presence to draw in new clients.
“I hired a developer to create the website because I do not have the necessary skills to do so. I have not given up on looking for employment. But I decided not to put my life on a hold as I wait for my dream job. This business has made me discover my passion for business,” he says.
Samuel targets offices in Nairobi and its environs. But students, especially those around Juja where he lives, are his main clients.
Currently, he has 15 regular clients to whom he delivers the donuts in their offices.
Every day, he sells at least 30 packets. He chose to focus on Nairobi and its environs because he had limited capital, and also because he first needed to build strong networks and connections.
He plans to expand his business to other counties.
One of the greatest challenges he has encountered over the last one year was understanding the highs and lows of business and learning to respond appropriately.
For example, due to the current economic times, the profits often fluctuate and some clients disappear.
At one point, he had to cut the prices of the donuts so that more people could afford them.
There are also periods when he reduces the number of packets he bakes in a day to avoid making losses. That ultimately reduces his profits.
“A key lesson for me is that you must be passionate about whatever you are doing. You must dedicate your time to your business to satisfy your clients. You must have a clear vision, and be ready to start small,” he says.
I am trying to get certification from the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) so that I can supply my products in supermarkets. I also plan to get a bigger working space and to employ more young people to help me.
Currently, I have four machines, a factor that has significantly improved my output. I am also working towards coming up with gluten-free donuts for that that are intolerant to gluten."