Student Spotlight: Njuru Mwangi- Taking Local Dishes Global
Galileo Galilei, one of the greatest scientist of all time, said Passion is the genesis of genius a thought that Njuru Mwangi cannot argue with. The 24-year old is the proud CEO and founder of Sufuria.com; an online platform for sharing African cuisine recipes. This already thriving web-based business, has grabbed media attention seeing Njuru featured on local television and print as one of the finalists in The Next Big Thing in a local competition organised by Business Daily.
Sufuria.com is a startup incubated at Strathmore Universitys @IBizAfrica, an incubation centre run by @iLabAfrica Research Centre. Njuru is currently in fourth year at Strathmore University pursuing a Bachelor of Business Information Technology (BBIT).
What is your Family and Education Background?
I am the last born of four siblings; I have three elder sisters.
I attended Sunshine High school, Nairobi, for my secondary education before joining Strathmore for the BBIT course. I attained a mean grade of B in K.C.S.E.
What inspired you to start Sufuria.Com and why that name?
I can say Sufuria.com was inspired by my mother and sister. I visited Mombasa once and brought my mother some coconuts which unfortunately went bad because she had no idea how to incorporate them in a meal. That incidence made me realise that if my mother had had prior knowledge or easy access to information on how to make meals using coconuts, she would have put the coconuts to good use and they would not have gone to waste. As for my sister, she buys many magazines and would regularly peruse through them when she needed to cook certain dishes, a situation I believe many other people face. I therefore felt the need to come up with an easily accessible platform where anyone can get information on cooking; hence Sufuria.com.
It took me a couple of months to actually come up with a suitable name; I was looking for something easy to remember and people would easily identify with. The name sufuria instantly takes ones mind to the kitchen, making this easy for potential consumers of the information shared on this website.
When did you start Sufuria.com?
The concept stage was from August 2014 but we launched the first version of Sufuria.com in March 2015. This is a platform whereby we share African cuisine recipes. Right now, our focus is on Kenyan dishes; the recipes we share are free to use for everyone. Apart from the recipes shared, we ensure that captivating images of the dishes are also part of the website content.
Where do you get the recipes from?
We have two categories of recipes: individual recipes, and chef certified recipes. However, it is important to note that all recipes on our website are certified, and I have personally tried them all. I am a avid user of sufuria.com.
What are your greatest achievements from this start-up?
I feel that my greatest achievement is solving existing problems in society; doing something that people find useful. I receive requests for various recipes such as baby food recipes, breakfast recipes etc while others get a chance to share their recipes with individuals who are foodies just like them.
Pitching Sufuria.com to H.E. President Uhuru Kenyatta during his visit at our campus was icing on the cake, and having the media positively cover my story created a tremendous achievement that has helped Sufuria.com generate enough awareness and publicity required for a product like ours, it has helped us move to the next level.
What challenges have you faced while running the Sufuria.com?
Currently the challenge I am facing is juggling school work and this project, because at the end of the day I have to win both. I am taking evening classes, this has freed up my days and enabled me to work on the website. Inasmuch as this project is important and means a lot to me, my first priority is academics; this is my final year so I have only six more months to push on.
It is a tough balancing the two but I am actually enjoying myself.
What are your future plans for the site?
We will be sharing videos on how to prepare certain dishes very soon; this will help viewers to go through a step by step demonstration on how to prepare some of the cuisines.
Within the next one year we hope to share at least 5-10 main dishes recipes from each of the 42 tribes in Kenya. After that we will focus on the East African market hence creating diversity to give users a chance to not only try local dishes all over Kenya, but across the East African community.
In the long term, we plan to have shared recipes from different cultures across the African continent.
What is your source of motivation?
At first, when I had ventured into business my drive was to attain financial stability but that has changed. Right now what motivates me is the people who take interest in my work; waking up to find requests and comments about the website content makes me feel like I am solving someones problem, and that for me is a great motivation.
Who is your role model?
I have different role models for different fields, in the entrepreneurial field I look up to the late founder of Cheki car website, Mr. Carey Eaton. I admired how he related with people and how he handled his business with integrity.
How did you end up at @IBizAfrica Incubation Centre?
In 2013 I pitched the idea on Sufuria.com, it was incubated. So far it has been working out well and it is an achievement I owe to the research centre. The centre has been very instrumental in the success of this start-up.
I encourage students who have start-up ideas to pitch during the Friday sessions held at @IBizAfrica every last Friday of the month.
For more information on pitching of your ideas for your start up visit:
@ILab Africa Research Centre or