#HerDiary: Are there affordable manufacturing spaces for entrepreneurs in Kenya?

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Been lazy the last week, but I have been answering most of your questions on twitter. Keep engaging, I learn from you every day. I had mentioned that we would talk about branding this week.

Last time out, I wrote about how I had to jump through hoops just to get a business license in Nairobi. You can get to that if you missed it!

However, the majority of you have been asking me to write about where to find manufacturing spaces that they can rent cheaply.

You can do it from your kitchen as a start. But this will limit you when you want to get your product to retail. The Government does not recognize residential homes as fit manufacturing spaces. This is understandable.

It is really expensive to rent out a warehouse in Kenya when you are starting out. Good news! There are two places I want you to check out. These are public-funded facilities. By the way, if you know any others, comment and I will do a write up on it.

Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute (KIRDI)

KIRDI is a national research institute mandated to undertake multidisciplinary research and development in industrial and allied technologies. The major divisions are: Engineering, Energy and Environment, ICT, Leather and Textiles, plus Food Technology Divisions.

If you have a product in mind but don’t know how to produce it, the good engineers at KIRDI will develop it with you for as little as Ksh 5,000 – depending on what product it is.

In my case, I did food ingredients in the food and technology divisions. I was charged Ksh 10,000 per employee, to train how to make 5 products.

Photo: KIRDI

I call it a bargain as I got an expert to teach me how to process the ingredients. I also got lessons on the kind of preservatives to add and the different stabilizers needed. The training took 6 days.

The good thing with this institution is that they are affiliated with KEBS. This means you can jump a lot of hoops if you train with them. KEBS officers actually come to the facility to pick your products. This is something they would not do if you’re manufacturing from home.

KIRDI also offers incubation services for up to one year. It’s a shared space known as common manufacturing, where SMEs choose dates that they will need the facility and produce from 8pm to 5pm, at a very affordable rate.

Their offices are located on Popo Road, off Mombasa Road, Nairobi South C, Dunga /Lusaka Roads junction, Nairobi, Industrial Area and Kibos Road, Kisumu: KIRDI Western Region Centre

Kenya Industrial Estates (KIE)

This is also a Government institution. It was established to facilitate development and incubation of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) countrywide. KIE avails flexible and affordable manufacturing spaces

Did you know that Mastermind Tobacco started from KIE?  Interesting, huh!

SMEs being incubated at KIE are able to access financial support for machinery, equipment and working capital. There is also support in the form of shared utility services, management and technical assistance including skills upgrading, marketing, accounting, legal, secretarial services and internet and networking.

I have not come across anyone who has been incubated there. I do know that their charges are less than the warehouses you can rent on Mombasa Road.

Their Nairobi office is located  on Likoni/Lusinget road in Industrial Area. KIE is also found in more than 15  towns country wide. Word of note: KIE may be merged with other institutions to form one big development bank. We will be here to write about it.

Kamaitha will be sharing with you #HerDiary every week! If you just can’t wait that long, you can follow her on Twitter @Kamaitha

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About Author

I am an entrepreneur learning to write about my journey. I enjoy golf, watching F1, cooking and neo soul music. Let's make entrepreneurship a fun topic to talk about.

3 Comments

  1. Great article i wish the government could educate or inform the public more visibly on this as Kenya is bursting with talented young people ready to be entrepreneurs.

  2. Thanks so much for the article,it’s very informative.
    Can you give the contact (phone number) of KIRDI please?