Kingdom Impact in Kenya: How Sinapis Equips African Entrepreneurs

Sinapis was founded in Kenya in 2010 with a mission to empower aspiring entrepreneurs in the developing world with innovative, scalable business ideas by providing them with a rigorous, Christ-centered business education, world-class consulting and mentoring services and access to seed capital. Through these means, they strive to create Christ-seeking business leaders, sustainable employment and an improved quality of life for many that they may glorify God in service of His people.

Sinapis runs an Entrepreneurship Training Program that includes 16 weeks of curriculum that covers customers, financials, human resources, operations and Kingdom Business. Upon completing the program, members of each graduating class are invited to submit their business plans to Sinapis. After a thorough selection process, entrepreneurs with the highest potential proceed to Sinapis’ annual Business Plan Competition, a live pitch event that brings together business owners, investors and other individuals in the entrepreneurship ecosystem and culminates with one entrepreneur winning a $10,000 grant. Outstanding finalists in the Business Plan Competition advance into an intensive 6-month accelerator program known as the Fast Track Fellows Program. Entrepreneurs in this program benefit from key resources such as customized mentorship from successful business owners, professional advising from experts in law, branding, accounting, etc., and one-on-one support from world-class management consultants. For those ready to raise investment capital, Sinapis matches them with early and growth stage investors.

As a result of their training and initiatives, Sinapis is seeing its entrepreneurs starting to operate with a Kingdom Business modus operandi. They’re integrating Kingdom Business into their business models, actively discipling and evangelizing, and using their specialized skills for Kingdom impact. Many entrepreneurs in their programs go from seeing business as a vehicle to create a better life for their family to seeing it as a calling from God and as a vehicle to intentionally use for Kingdom and social impact. A big outcome of Sinapis is this reorientation towards a Kingdom Business mentality and they are starting to see the entrepreneurs produce fruit for the glory of the Kingdom. 

Here are two stories of Fast Track Fellows that are seeing Kingdom impact through their businesses in Kenya.

Shiko Kihia – Maids of Honour

ShikoMaids of Honour, a business that trains and places maids in high income households, has a course training and mentorship curriculum that was inspired by Scripture. Different aspects of the word have been integrated into the program because Maids of Honour seeks to transform the people it trains.

Shiko Kihia recounts how God has been using her business, Maids of Honour:

“Several househelps have come from poor backgrounds and suffer from various poverty related conditions. Whenever anyone goes through a Maids of Honour class, he or she has the opportunity to receive Jesus as savior as we normally have a Bible study at lunch time at the Church. Besides this we teach values they are to uphold in the houses they go to so that they too will be lights in this world. These are Service, Love, Joy, Faithfulness, Honesty, Integrity, and Respect.”

Shiko says there are a number of examples of women who have recognized a calling from God to be ministers within the homes they go to.

“When Beaver joined us a year and a half ago, she was a shy and demure girl. Beaver could hardly speak out loud enough for anyone to understand a word she said. At the time, Beaver had come seeking a housekeeping job, but when I asked our trainees to help me find a gardener, Beaver volunteered. I graciously accepted her as gardener, and Beaver played the role well enough. However, when our recruiting officer left, Beaver rose to the occasion and took over her role with much zeal. Beaver today is our lead trainer often taking turns with me in mentoring the ladies from scripture. She exudes confidence and has now trained at least 100 workers who work in various homes in Kenya. She says she owes this success to God and the opportunity that I gave to her.”

“Another example of a helper who was inspired by the word of God to strive to represent Him in their workplace is Margaret, who was employed by Bob Collimore (CEO of Safaricom, Kenya’s largest telecom) over a year ago. Margaret had come to us as a professional cook who had worked in a small restaurant that serves tourists. Margaret wasn’t sure what our training would do for her, but after the training, she marveled at the revelation of what her role in this house was. To date, Margaret says that she is so grateful for this mentoring as it has been her secret to success in this household.”

“Milea recently got a job in a certain ambassadors’ home, and the family instantly loved her and took her on emphatically. They were to travel in a few weeks, and she came back to see me, explaining to me that she had upset her boss and that she would soon probably be fired. After having listened to her story, I simply asked her what she thought would be the best course of action as she was the one at fault and therefore I couldn’t call on the client. Without further ado, she went into the Church over lunch time and repented for what she had done. She left without any report back to me, but later on called me happily to inform me that her boss had forgiven her and that they were off to Singapore.”

“I truly believe that Maids of Honour is a call from God to raise women and men that will take the Kingdom to every aspect of service that they are in and therefore influence homes and various workplaces for the Kingdom. They are being made into disciples leading others to the Kingdom by their prayer life, conduct and an understanding of their calling. They begin to view themselves not as misfits, a bunch of people who by a set of negative circumstances ended up as the lowest of the low, but now as children of the Kingdom, daughters and sons of God accountable to the most high God as their Lord, employer and King.”

Frank Omondi – Ten Senses Africa

Frank4Sinapis helped Frank turn around a failing nut processing company, growing revenue 10x to $2.5m, creating 277 jobs and raising $2.35m in growth capital!

In 2013, Frank Omondi bought into a macadamia nut processing and export business that was at the brink of failure. The company had significant struggles with local management who saddled the company with unsustainable levels of debt and was not fulfilling on customer orders, which damaged its reputation and decimated its customer base. On top of that, there was a tragic accident in which a steam boiler exploded in the factory, causing unforeseen costs and down-time. The business was at the brink of bankruptcy, and the investors were ready to shut it down. But Frank saw opportunity where others saw a business doomed to failure. The fundamentals of the business model and market made sense, and Frank felt that with the right management and proper investment, the business could thrive. He convinced the investors to allow him to buy a significant stake in the business and attempt an epic turn-around.

However, Frank’s background was in tourism and wildlife management. “I had never run a factory before,” Frank told us. “Sinapis couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. It helped me organize my business, plan, create systems and efficient processes, understand and translate financial results, and set up dashboards to measure critical things in the business.” A crucial breakthrough for Frank came during the operations module in which he learned how to map processes, choose and track metrics, and identify bottlenecks in order to increase capacity and accurately predict delivery dates for customers. He also implemented simple performance management techniques. Just by creating a production dashboard that everyone on the factory floor could see (with their target plotted against actuals), productivity skyrocketed 133% from 15 kilos per person per shift to 35 kilos per person per shift. All the operational improvements, including geographically consolidating parts of his process, allowed him to lower processing costs by 55% from $20,000 per container to $9,000 per container. He also indicated that formalizing their hiring processes with more structured and rigorous interview guides, tests, and a probationary period has really helped them bring on the right talent needed to support the growth of the business.

Just after the Fast Track Fellows program, Frank landed over $2.35M in investment capital, allowing him to move to a bigger facility, invest in equipment to increase capacity 700% from 20 metric tons per month to 160 metric tons per month and get the working capital he needed to drive sales growth. He also expanded his product line to include cashew nuts and has just received commitment for $150,000 in order to improve the margins on his lower grade nuts, by pressing them into oil for sale to the European cosmetic industry, in line with his strategy of moving into higher value addition manufacturing.

Frank also said that Sinapis influenced him to have a bigger vision than profits. His driving motivation now is impact. He has built a church in Africa’s largest slum from profits from the business. He employs over 300 women, mostly single mothers from the slums. He’s providing them consistent and higher income and is working to improve their quality of life by offering them health care and is building a nursery at the factory so they don’t spend money on childcare and have peace of mind while they’re working. When asked what keeps him motivated, Frank quickly responded, “Every two weeks when I see the women receive their money, and they can provide for their families…we’re giving dignity to these women.” He’s also passionate about improving the lives of smallholder farmers, 60,000 of whom he’s working with, who receive premium prices since he deals in organic and fair trade and who experience significant increases in yield due to the training Ten Senses provides. Frank says he is constantly hearing stories from the farmers of how they’re now buying cows, improving their houses and taking kids to school.

In the mid-term, he’s setting up a cashew factory at the Kenyan coast where he sources and ships his product, is setting up an oil pressing operation to get better margins from higher value addition, is restructuring the business into strategic business units along product lines and is raising a $5M round of equity investment, which will allow the business to dramatically increase capacity, move into a tax-free zone, increase its supply of organic and Fair Trade nuts and make other necessary investments for the business’ product expansion.

Frank, and his company Ten Senses Africa, is representative of the exciting trend of African agribusiness entrepreneurs seizing massive opportunities for value-added manufacturing that create the jobs and GDP necessary for economic development, and he’s well on his way to achieving his mission of impacting 1 million lives by 2020.

Visit the Sinapis website for more information

With thanks to Sinapis for their kind permission to post these stories.

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BAM is a global phenomenon. God is on the move around the world, calling men and women from all continents to start businesses for His Kingdom purposes. To highlight just some of what He is doing, and emphasise that business as mission is a global movement, we will take a tour around the BAM world for the next six weeks or so. We hope you enjoy the trip!