Story courtesy of Business daily 9th December 2013, I just had to share. Click the link for more stories and to access the Business Daily a Kenyan newspaper.
The story below is of someone very important to me i am proud of you Mr Wanjohi you are my inspiration. I plan to follow in your foot steps. Kudos to Both you and Tshepo.
John Wanjohi escaped death by a whisker during the xenophobic violence in South Africa. He says the chaos may have made him lose his livelihood, but turned his long-time business idea into a reality.
Together with a South African friend, Mr Tshepo Monnanyana, the two started Hipora Business Solutions East Africa Ltd, a logistics firm that specialises in verification of supermarket supplies to reduce losses.
‘‘After the war targeting expatriates in 2008, I left all my belongings and only carried my passport,’’ said Mr Wanjohi, now in his 50s at his office at the Panari Sky Centre on Mombasa Road, Nairobi.
Started four years ago, Hipora now employs 700 people.
In South Africa, he was a finance manager at Shoprite Company and after landing in Kenya his first assignment was taking calculated risks on how to start his own venture and restore the lost opportunities in foreign land.
‘‘It was starting from scratch. But the business idea that I had in mind needed neither capital nor space. I only needed the grace of God and patience to make my dream come true and ensure we turn around the retail sector from enormous losses,’’ he said.
Mr Wanjohi said he had seen retail shops in South Africa and Tanzania outsourcing services during stocktaking to cut losses from staff theft, collusions and shoplifting.
He was hoping to set up a similar business in Kenya, but at that time ‘‘life in South Africa was good and there was no sign of any danger.’’ But after the violence, an opportunity presented itself.
Supermarkets lose billions of shillings from rackets involving transporters, receiving and packaging teams. Those that outsource loss management services survive, he said.
‘‘This is still a big business in South Africa,’’ said Mr Monnanyana. Mr Wanjohi says he saw an opportunity in Kenya as no investor was offering similar services. Starting off from scratch, with his partner, they wrote a proposal to Tuskys Supermarkets and after a short while they struck their first deal. They started by employing workers.
‘‘I placed a small advert in one of the local dailies inviting applications,’’ said Mr Wanjohi
The successful applicants were taken through a two-week intensive training on technical skills of how to prevent loss through proper stock management and documentation during receiving, security procedures as loss control methods, stocktaking and how to detect shoplifters and other softer skills including customer service.
After the Tuskys Supermarkets deal, Hipora Business Solutions started marketing itself as a brand and within three years in operations, it had more clients from East Africa.
‘‘Tuskys offered us even the space to operate from. It was a good reception given we hardly knew each other as client and service provider, I am always grateful for this’’ says Mr Wanjohi without divulging details on how much he made from the Tuskys deal.
His customers now include Nakumatt Supermarkets, Naivas Supermarkets, East Matt, Easy E Matt, and Maathai Supermarket among others.
Mr Wanjohi says integrity has made them remain relevant in the market and create a strong clientele base that has seen the company grow.
‘‘We don’t use software or computers in stocktaking, we do manual work. We don’t assume what is in the box is accurate. We unpack the boxes, confirm and get the correct figures,’’ said Mr Wanjohi.
‘‘We have trained people we call double checkers who check the stock coming in and out of the supermarkets and we inter-change them regularly to avoid any potential collusion between them and supermarkets administration or even suppliers,’’ he added.
Under the contract, no deliveries are paid to retail suppliers until Hipora confirms that the amount to be paid corresponds with the quantity and quality delivered.
The company also works with warehouses and institutions that buy goods in large quantities and receiving and dispatch sections which are prone to stock losses. Hipora is now targeting county governments intending to buy items in large quantities and enhance accountability during supply and in distribution.
Hipora also provides companies with loss control managers, stockroom controllers, front end checkers, floorwalkers who check anomalies that may occur in the supermarkets.
‘‘Front end checkers ensure the right stocks that entered the store/supermarket leave through the point of sales accurately. This is a concept of ensuring supermarkets sell what they receive through human resources controls, with minimal or no losses of stocks,’’ said Mr Monnanyanna who is the director of operations at the company.
Success of the company has attracted competition. Mr Wanjohi said some of their employees quit and have started businesses in loss control management.
“Competition in any sector is good. It helps to shape up the quality of services offered and mould healthy businesses,’’ he says.
So how is the business doing in Kenya? ‘‘We are in serious business and the company is doing well. We cannot complain… Success of any business should not be measured by how much one puts in the pocket but by the number of people one has helped to grow.”
Like most entrepreneurs, the two say they want a fat pie of the global business.