How I make easy money from my energy saving jikos innovation

How I make easy money from my energy saving jikos innovation

Dr. Fridah Wilumila Mugo is the founder and managing director of Motozero Ventures, a firm that specializes in producing energy saving devices for cooking and warming known as fireless cookers. Photo | Pool

I was previously employed in many capacities. I am currently the Chair at the Department of Urban & Regional Planning at the University of Nairobi, where I am also a lecturer. I have also worked as a consultant in Natural Resources Management for various organisations locally and internationally.

I got trained on how to make my energy saving devices while working at the Ministry of Energy. This was early in my career in the early 1990s. I was trained by the Bellerive Foundation, which is now a part of the Aga Khan Foundation. The idea was to develop these devices at a low cost so that we could assist households to reduce their energy costs, save on time, and improve on health. From this training, I trained all Home Economic Officers in the Ministry of Agriculture. Thereafter, I began training women on it being a lucrative business. The venture was then born.  The business was only incorporated in 2018. Before that, it was more of a hobby.

Because the business began with very meager resources, it broke even almost immediately. It has since grown into a large venture over the years with clients in every continent. The huge chunk of cost is the labour required to mend the devices. However, there have been challenges. The biggest has been the lack of product awareness. There are people who think the product is a basket for putting clothes or a puppy’s bed. To dispel this lack of awareness, we have been creating and sharing videos on social media on what the product is, and how it is to be used. This has resulted in increased uptake of the technology.

I save through the business. Most of the money the business generates is ploughed back into it in form of materials and production equipment. The business also sets a certain percentage for saving through cryptocurrencies. This type of saving has seen the portfolio jump by over 450 per cent in just one year.

Investing too much capital in fixed assets that are not productive and not bringing an equal return has been my biggest money mistake. I constructed a modern facility even though there were no adequate sales or revenue to justify such heavy construction expenditure. Though the money was from my savings, I would still have, in hindsight, put those resources to better use and scaled slowly.

The business would be in an even better place if I had put emphasis on marketing. In all our years of operation, we have never seen the kind of growth that we have experienced in the last two years, thanks to the keen advice of my son, Samson Ngure, who has been instrumental in developing a thorough marketing strategy with specific focus on social media.

In this day and age, I do not think it wise to just have one source of income. But I would put an emphasis on management. You must be able to manage all your affairs so that one doesn’t hurt the other. I love both my job(s) and my businesses, of which I have a couple. From my years of career and business experience, I would tell women to focus on solving problems and serving others in their ventures. In this, there is no failure. It is as simple as that.

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