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Making millions out of nuts

The small signboard at the entrance to Patrick Wainaina’s firm in Thika summarises his passion: “Welcome to Jungle Nuts, where we are nuts about nuts.’’

For someone new to the firm, the motto can give the wrong impression that you are meeting a commoner trying out his luck in a remote area along Thika Light Industries.

But Mr Wainaina is the successful entrepreneur behind Jungle Nuts Company, a Top 100 company that processes Macadamia, cashew and peanuts.

Jungle Nuts sources Macadamia from small-scale farmers in Kiambu, Muranga, Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Embu, Meru, Kitale, Bungoma and Taita. One kilogramme retails at between Sh60 and Sh80.

In 2009 when companies were grappling with the global economic crunch, Jungle Nuts posted more than $6 million in turn over.

Jungle Nuts has a network of more than 80,000 farmers and 250 permanent staff.

Interestingly, none of his products are consumed locally.

The company exports its products to the US, China, and the UK.

“My history starts from the Kenya Nuts Company where I worked as an engineer in 1996. I am a trained mechanical engineer,’’ he says.

After resigning from Kenya Nuts, Mr Wainaina headed to the US to study marketing, convinced that the trip would unlock his success.

In the US, he found himself chasing for success that seemed beyond his grasp.

After completing his studies, Mr Wainaina embarked on seeking employment, but nothing was forthcoming.

The first job that presented itself was attending to the elderly and though it was not his preferred option, he took the job in order to make ends meet.