Ruth Mwanzia is making it rain…well not literally. She grew up in Kitui, a semi-arid region in Kenya that often faces water scarcity and drought. Being a #MotherlandMogul in the making, Ruth decided to start her own water bottling company, Koola waters. Koola waters manufactures, distributes, treats and packages water.
As a child of her community, Ruth is also involved in several corporate social responsibility (CSR) ventures in Kitui, as well as other parts of Kenya. Read on to learn what it takes to enter the water manufacturing business.
Why did you decide to enter a business in manufacturing, distribution, treatment and packaging of drinking water?
I wanted to make a difference in my community. Having grown up in Kitui, a region in Kenya that experiences semi-arid type of climate, we faced many challenges to do with water; water scarcity, drought and water shortages. After I graduated from campus, I asked myself what I could do to address this situation. Thus, Koola waters was born.
Koola is a company that specializes in manufacturing, distribution, treatment and packaging of pure drinking water. Through Koola waters, we supply water to eight regions in Kenya including Kitui.
What do you think of the water manufacturing industry in Kenya? What makes Koola waters stand out from the rest?
It’s a competitive field and it’s a fast-growing industry. Why we stand out, first all our water is very sweet because its UV treated and well micro-filtered. Koola water goes through seven stages of filtration.
Second, we care about the community and we are involved in many CSR activities. Third is our unique packaging, the customer and the community are always at our heart.
How are you making impact in the community?
We are making an impact in the community by engaging in various community activities to give back. We do lots of tree planting activities in Kitui, mentorship activities across different universities in Kenya, work with several Kenyan charities and we also support a local football team in Kenya.
What particular challenges have you found offering employment to other young people?
- Lack of experience, but through regular training they are able to gain the experience for the job.
- Lack of stability: Many of the young employees have no clear vision of their careers. They join a company and once they find another good opportunity they will switch. This is always a huge loss to the organization.
- Discipline issues: Not all, but most of them, are unaware of work culture environment. They do not turn up on time, they do not strictly follow the HR rules. Many of young employees try to take leaves more than they are provided with. This is a question of discipline.
Yet above all this, I love working with young people. Through mentorship, education and training, they are able to gain the skills required for the job
What different marketing strategies have you used to promote Koola waters?
Koola waters employ different marketing strategies;
- We work with main stream media, where we do features so people are able to know what we do
- We also do digital marketing, we are very active in social media
- Finally, we engage in content marketing and brand publishing
Are there any challenges unique to your industry that you’ve discovered?
- Small-scale bottled water companies are often confronted with price wars that erode profit margins and at times even lead to losses.
- There is also the effect from regulatory-related constraints. For example, increases in the import duty of plastic pellets and the ongoing hot topic of the regulation on the management of water resources.
- Cost structure, which is dominated by the cost of plastic packaging and distribution costs. This has made our industry quite sensitive to fluctuations in the exchange rate. The industry is heavily reliant on imported plastic, raw materials and gasoline.
- Competition from well established brands in the market.
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