Former casual labourer creates cassava value addition empire

A visit to his aunt for business idea became the light bulb moment for Alex Ombuto who has found a fortune in cassava root which he adding value in making crisps, snacks and nutritional porridge in a business venture with a Sh480,000 annual turnover.

Being out of job where he used to be a casual labourer, Alex Otieno Ombuto decided to visit his aunt in Mombasa to get some business tips. With a drive to try his hands on any business, he decided to go back to his home in Kisumu and try cassava value addition.

 “I had no idea that the cassava root I always perceived as food for people living in abject poverty could be used for making affordable crisps, doughnuts, chips ,snacks, nutritional porridge and even ugali”, said Mr Ombuto. Since he introduced the idea to Kisumu residents, commercialisation of cassava has been tremendously gaining popularity and many entrepreneurs and farmers are embracing the root and its products.

The trend has picked up around the upmarket Kilimani in Kisumu town where the business is booming due to the high demand from Asians and Indians living in the region.

“Indians love homemade cassava crisps and doughnuts so much that they often flock my business premises in the evening to take some home”, said the 42 year-old entrepreneur and a resident of Kilimani estate.
His business targets schools, local hotels, offices, supermarkets and small retail shops.

“More often, industrial buyers are attracted by my homemade-level value addition that simply involves cleaning, chipping and drying which greatly reduces their production costs at their plants”, he said.

From his modest savings of sh3,000, Mr Ombuto and his wife Florence Ombuto are now running a business with an annual turnover of Sh480, 000. They have also employed six workers whom they pay Sh250.

The father of six now versify his business by of land to plant cassavas reduce costs. He plans to expand his export his products in the potential growth needs of many customers.

The price of his home-crisps ranges between Sh100 and Sh300, depending quantity and size of the. However, for his clients supermarkets and hotels, purchased in bulk at a cost depending on quantity. Given the location of the couple enjoys monopoly.