How merchandising machines are making life higher for Kenyans

By Andrea Dijkstra

Enterprise reporter, Nairobi, Kenya

Picture supply, Jeroen van Loon

Picture caption,

Shopkeeper Jackson Opati (proper) has switched to a milk merchandising machine

Shopkeeper, Jackson Opati, has stopped promoting packaged milk from his retailer and as an alternative switched to utilizing a merchandising machine allotting recent milk. “This ATM is a extra profitable enterprise,” he explains.

Mr Opati runs a small grocery retailer within the crowded settlement of Kibera in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi.

For the final 12 months, or so, his store – constructed from wood poles and corrugated sheets – has hosted a milk merchandising machine from US-Kenyan firm Zaidi Applied sciences. It’s considered one of 9 such machines that Zaidi has working in Kenya.

Utilizing a small panel on the entrance of the machine, he keys within the sum of money {that a} buyer desires to spend and seconds later the corresponding amount of milk pours right into a recycled plastic bottle or bag that the client brings from dwelling.

“Since I obtained the merchandising machine, the variety of prospects has sharply elevated,” he says.

Picture supply, Jeroen van Loon

Picture caption,

Clients can spend as little as they like – the machine will dispense precise quantities like a petroleum pump

Monday to Thursday, Mr Opati sells 150 litres of milk a day. On Fridays and weekends that jumps to 300 litres, giving him 6,000 Kenyan shillings ($53; £40) in revenue every week. “For me, it is a good enterprise,” he says.

“These merchandising machines have develop into essential for us in Kibera,” says considered one of his prospects, Caroline Atieno, whereas queuing in entrance of the tall machine, which is embellished with footage of black and white Friesian cows.

She has 5 kids and says she will get by loads of milk: “With this ATM, I can spend no matter I would like on milk, at the same time as little as 10 Kenyan shillings (9 cents; 7p), primarily based on the cash that I’ve in my pocket.”

It is a key attraction of the promoting on this method, Kenyans who reside in such settlements, typically earn lower than a greenback a day, so with the ability to purchase recent produce in small portions is a large bonus.

“The milk can also be less expensive than the packed lengthy life milk which is offered at most locations in Kibera, and [it] tastes higher,” Ms Atieno provides.

Picture supply, Getty Pictures

Picture caption,

Tons of of hundreds of individuals reside in Kibera – many surviving on wages of lower than a greenback a day

The pasteurised milk from Zaidi’s ATM goes for 65 Kenyan shillings a litre, whereas packed ultra-heated (UHT) lengthy life-milk usually prices round 110 Kenyan shillings a litre and is barely offered in packages of 200ml, 300ml or bigger.

Lately, merchandising machines have been popping up throughout Nairobi’s quite a few casual settlements – promoting milk, cooking oil, clear renewable cooking gas and sanitary pads.

“We determined to begin promoting milk by ATMs because it removes the price of packaging, improves the prices of logistics and permits us to promote milk with out attracting VAT,” says Graham Benton, co-founder and chief government of Zaidi Applied sciences.

“The ATMs additionally assist us to unlock the 80% of the market that has remained untapped by bigger, regulated companies.”

Media caption,

The clear gas dispensers popping up throughout Kenya.

The machines have additionally offered new enterprise alternatives, explains Vivian Kenyatta. The 28-year-old single mum shaped a youth group of 20 members. “With our financial savings, we needed to begin a enterprise to uplift ourselves and these ATMs seemed to be slightly inexpensive.”

Whereas they didn’t have sufficient pooled money to open an entire store, they have been in a position to purchase a cooking oil merchandising machine for 100,000 Kenyan shillings ($890; £670) this 12 months and hire a small area, from the place they promote the oil.

“We make a revenue of round 400 Kenyan shillings a day, which we placed on a checking account and we’d use for emergencies, like when considered one of our group members must go to a hospital,” the only mom explains this whereas she dispenses cooking oil from the machine right into a recycled plastic cooking oil bottle for her subsequent buyer.

Picture supply, Jeroen van Loon

Picture caption,

For Vivian Kenyatta a merchandising machines was a great way into enterprise

Though working merchandising machines in disadvantaged areas of Africa comes with challenges.

Usually, store house owners can solely afford the very least expensive machines, which could not be appropriate for meals. In addition they might not be capable to pay for correct upkeep. To save cash they may flip machines off when they’re empty – which means any residue goes unhealthy or congeals within the system.

Energy cuts, that are quite common in Kenya and neighbouring nations, are an added disruption.

Zaidi Applied sciences has developed a unique enterprise mannequin to counter a few of these points: it owns and installs the merchandising machines, the shopkeeper then pays for the electrical energy and gives water for cleansing. In return they obtain a fee of 4 shillings for each litre of milk they promote.

Unscrupulous shopkeepers have additionally been recognized to dilute milk, however Zaidi Applied sciences are engaged on a tamper-proof system – after pasteurisation, the milk containers will likely be delivered to retailers and slotted into the machines by the supply drivers, who will then lock the merchandising machines.

“The methods will likely be automated, in order that we will see if the door is tampered with, or, if the milk violates our temperature thresholds, permitting us to take the system offline till a technician can come and repair it,” explains Mr Benton.

Picture supply, KOKO Networks

Picture caption,

KOKO Networks designed its machine for the African market

Know-how firm, KOKO Networks, has developed its personal merchandising machine system particularly for the African market, to provide its bioethanol cooking gas.

Just like the milk machines, the KOKO machines can dispense very small quantities of gas, to cater for cash-strapped prospects.

“To guard gas high quality and guarantee protected dealing with… our ATM’s have plenty of security options and sensors. Our gas can solely be allotted right into a registered KOKO gas canister and with the ATM we keep away from creating mountains of plastic bottling waste”, says Sagun Saxena, government director at KOKO Kenya.

When prospects refill their gas canister, they purchase the gas straight from KOKO, utilizing cell cash funds, whereas KOKO pays a fee to the shopkeeper.

The corporate was launched in Nairobi in partnership with Shell in 2019 and now runs greater than 750 bioethanol merchandising machines in Kenya and can enter different East African nations within the coming 12 months.

Mr Saxena sees plenty of alternatives for merchandising machines within the meals sector as properly. “At present packaging, dealing with and buying and selling through small retailers provides loads of prices,” he says.

“That is why retail costs for meals are larger in small, native retailers versus even the bigger supermarkets in Nairobi. Bringing these prices down by using merchandising machines, will profit many households.”