Kenyan firms are increasingly venturing beyond the country’s borders in search of new markets and growth opportunities.
Buoyed by successes back home and hunger for better profit margins, some firms are looking beyond the East African countries and especially Rwanda and South Sudan, that have been the popular launch pads for foreign market forays.
For instance, Ariel Foods, a Kenyan firm that produces food targeting malnourished children for UNICEF and the World Food Program among other global clients recently opened up a processing farm in Alaro in Lagos, Nigeria.
The food manufacturer is a sister company to Insta Products (Kenya) and its entry to Nigeria from where it intends to produce food targeting the larger West African market signals its appetite for a slice of the 400-million strong people market.
Dhiren Chandaria, Ariel Foods chairman, said the new investment will boost food security in a region that experiences some of the worst forms of malnourishment among children and the attendant problems.
“Ariel Foods is proud to expand its production to Nigeria, and play a major role in food and population security in West Africa through the production of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Foods to feed malnourished children and to supplement the diets of persons with special nutrition requirements,” Chandaria said.
The opening of the Nigerian venture was timed to mark a year since the ground-breaking of the Alaro City which is being developed by Rendeavour, the investor behind Kenya’s Tatu City in Kiambu County.
During the launch, Rendeavour also unveiled other multi-million dollar partnerships with firms specialising in housing and construction, detergent manufacturing, energy and media development.
Besides Ariel Foods, other firms that are setting shops in Alaro are Kenol, Universal Homes, HMD Africa, Sana Industries, Loatsad and ASB Valiant.
Alaro City is modelled on Kenya’s Tatu City located in Ruiru, 20km from Nairobi’s Central Business District. It is a mixed-income, city-scale development with industrial, and logistics locations, offices, homes, schools, healthcare facilities, hotels and entertainment spots.
Universal Homes, for instance, has already put up 2,000 homes in Tatu City and the firm hopes to replicate its expertise and experiences in Alaro.
“With 2,000 homes completed and under construction in Kenya, Universal Homes is bringing its high-quality, accessibly priced apartments to Nigeria, in partnership with Alaro City,” executive director John Latham said.
Kenya and Nigeria share similar urban development challenges triggered by rapid urbanisation and poor planning that has worsened the strain on employment, housing, transport and security and other amenities.
New cities like Tatu and Alaro are designed to ease these pressures through the concept of work- and-live gated communities that create jobs by setting up industrial villages while housing employees in the same locality.