Merican Limited is a commercial kitchen solutions provider. They custom make kitchen equipment for hotels, restaurants, coffee shops, bars, clubs, resorts, staff cafeterias, hospital kitchens, supermarkets, schools and any other commercial space that requires kitchen equipment.
According to Fred Akuno, Merican Limited Business Development Manager, the process begins with Merican Limited checking out the space where the kitchen is to be. They offer advice on what needs to sit where depending on the cuisine and the number of people to be served. The next step is to design the kitchen using AutoCAD (a commercial computer-aided design (CAD) and drafting software application) to give the client a clear view of the future kitchen and how it will relate with the surrounding space. A quotation is then given to the client. When an agreement is made Merican comes up with a production schedule after which they deliver the equipment. Delivery within Nairobi is free while the client bears the cost for deliveries outside Nairobi. The final step is installation and maintenance.
Merican Limited is a one stop shop for commercial kitchens. They locally fabricate about 85% of the equipment in their workshop and import what is unavailable locally.
Fred Akuno has a background in Business Management. He also worked for some years in a company that provides a similar service. While at this company, he noticed a gap in the market; that there was a section of customers who were being left out. He started Merican in order to fill this gap in the market but also, and more importantly to him, to provide employment opportunities for the jobless Kenyan youth.
The main challenge the company has faced has had to do with cash flow. According to Fred, it is difficult to earn the trust of financial institutions that are loath to give out loans to entrepreneurs without collateral no matter how promising their business idea may be. This leads to slow growth of the business as it becomes dependent on sales revenue. The money from the sales is used to run the business, pay salaries and take care of overheads; without any sales, the business grinds to a halt.
Merican Limited plans to launch a CSR project within the year targeting the less fortunate members of the community and especially those residing in the Sinai slum located near their workshop.
The company serves the East African region from their Nanyuki Road base. They plan to strengthen their internal processes including moving to a bigger space and acquiring larger machines before they can look into further expansion of the company.
From his personal experience, Fred Akuno’s advice to budding entrepreneurs is, “It’s always about self-belief, discipline and also the need to know that your reputation is what sells you most. When you get a job from a client, deliver it first then look into other things later. It’s about financial discipline, respect for your client and belief in your dreams.”