A Look at Our Incredible Women: Meet Grace Gitiha

By Davina Ngei 

Edited by Linda Davis PhD and Maureen Onyango

Grace is the founder of Green Eco Solutions in Naivasha, central  Kenya, where she produces briquettes under the “Makaa Tunza” brand. Inspired by the late Nobel Laureate Prof. Wangari Maathai’s hummingbird story, Grace sought to enable a positive change in the environment after witnessing the decimation of forests in her community and the resulting scarcity of firewood. After learning about carbonized briquettes through an online forum, she started producing and selling this fuel in neighbouring households. Today, Grace distributes briquettes in Nakuru and Nairobi counties to households, hotels, retailers and chicken brooders.

As a new business owner, Grace grappled with implementing business systems and processes necessary for growth, including efficient bookkeeping. Her main focus now is learning to do business “the right way”. Against this background and with support from wPOWER, Grace is receiving tailored mentorship to improve her business strategic plans, sales and marketing strategies, and human resource processes.

Grace Gitiha (left) and her sister Dorcas Mweru (right) at the Green Eco Solutions production site, in Naivasha, Kenya

Mentorship

Grace has been matched with Adeetya from India, an ICT expert who has guided her to develop  astute financial management skills to enable business growth. Based on her expectations for achieving scale, Adeetya has advised her to seek legal clearance certifications needed to conduct her business, pursue support from the local energy ministry and market her products through local media channels such as radio. Additionally, Grace has been advised to conduct a SWOT analysis on her business to establish how robust her business model is.

Most recently, she begun giving daily targets to her employees, which has led to an increase in briquette production of up to 30 additional bags a day, from 40 bags a day to the current production of 70 bags a day. Additionally, after experiencing delays in production caused by heavy rains which delayed the briquette drying process, Grace was advised by Adeetya to increase production during the sunny period, and stock enough briquettes for distribution during the rainy season. This kind of forecasting advice will help her ensure consistent supply to her customers. Moving forward, she plans to incorporate the distribution of cookstoves into her business model as well as retailing her briquettes through other distributors.

“Learn from experienced entrepreneurs for they have a lot to offer and can help one avoid making mistakes. Moreover, Perseverance is key; it’s not always easy.”  

This is the motto she follows every day.