Cassangano: Where Affordability Connects with Need
Moses Gichuru is managing director of Bonde Soko Services and a TruTrade franchisee. He has been in the cassava sourcing business for eight years now, supplying processors with cassava to make porridge flour. Bonde Soko now wants to move up the value chain, tapping its sourcing network for cassava which it will process to make Cassangano flour. Cassangano is a mixture of wheat and cassava flour produced to meet standards demanded by the Kenyan market. Blending wheat with cassava reduces the gluten content of the flour while adding vitamins A and B12 ensures the flour conforms to government fortification policies.
The target market is the low income households who usually use flour which is directly milled and does not undergo fortification, standardization and inspection processes. Therefore cassava blended with wheat flour and suitably fortified provides a cheaper and nutritious alternative to wheat-based baking flours that less well-off consumers are currently using. Bonde Sonko has applied for certification from the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) Certifications, after which Cassangano will be launched on the market.
‘At long last the poor will enjoy good chapatti. Flour from wheat is too expensive for low-income consumers so by mixing wheat with cassava, we provide less expensive flour that can be used to make chapattis and mandazi,’ says Moses.
He explains that by blending cassava and wheat, the retail price of the Cassangano product reduces a 1 kg packet of baking flour by 11 Kenyan shillings compared to the same packet of pure wheat. This makes it much more affordable to Base-Of-Pyramid (BOP) consumers who either bake mandazi and chapatti at home for breakfast or eat at BOP food kiosks on their way to work, at lunch or at dinner with their families. Bonde Sonko packages the flour into 10kg, 5kg, 1kg and ½ kg bags in the production unit.
However starting up a new business is not all roses, Moses has been faced with a number of challenges.
‘The hardest parts of establishing this startup have been the issues of getting the premises and a production home for Cassangano. After some hiccups finding premises which would pass the NEMA and Public Health inspections, we rented a compound where we can develop all the facilities that we need.’
After the market survey, testing the mixed flour and trying the different recipes on the consumers in Nakuru, Kisumi and Nairobi, the consumers’ feedback was; ‘The flour makes chapattis with a good color which are soft, tasty and sustaining.’ Feedback from vendors indicated that Bonde Sonko needed to prepare different flours for various uses and so it has now developed a plain flour for chapatti, a self-raising flour for mandazi and wholewheat flour for the health market.
Bonde Sonko employs 10 workers, five work in the factory and five as marketing agents on a commission. The plan is to market Cassangano through the BOP outlets that were used for the market tests in Nakuru, Kisumu and in Nairobi.