Have you ever wondered what Meru people in Nairobi do? We caught up with Duncan Munene, the owner of Kafein Bistro who refused to give us a photo of himself. We were curious to know how he got to where he is today. This restaurant is fine living redefined. They have these Italian sodas you’ll not find anywhere else and in this hot weather, you’ll ask for a second glass. It’s one of those places their food pictures make your tummy rumble with hunger pangs. Also, their waitresses have the best purple polo shirts I have seen so far.
Where in Meru are you from, Duncan?
I am a proud son of Mikumbune, Nkubu. (You can almost hear him say Nkubu Massive 🙂 )
Did you just wake up one morning and decide to leave a good job to get into entrepreneurship?
No, it took me a few years of diligent saving and planning. I knew I wanted to retire early and come back home (from the US where he has been for a while). I didn’t know how soon. I also knew I wanted to invest in the coffee industry because I have grown to love coffee. Growing up I would pick coffee berries and take them to the factory. I would carry the rejects back home and dry them which would later be sold. My siblings and I took care of my family’s coffee during school holidays but I never took coffee. I would wonder how coffee tasted until one day my grandmother roasted coffee in a pot and ground it. She made very delicious coffee. I have loved coffee since then.
What was your inspiration?
When I set out I wanted fulfillment that came with being self-employment and of course a source of income. I happened to also make a difference in a few people’s lives by creating jobs
Why a Cafe?
Have you tasted the Kenyan coffee? I mean the gourmet variety? We have some of the best coffee in the world, so I wanted to provide Kenyans with a taste of their very best. Coupled with healthy Kenyan dishes. You should try our full Kenyan breakfast it consists of – Two boiled eggs, Beans in Coconut Sauce, Steamed Sweet Potato or Nduma, Grilled Tomatoes and Fermented Porridge.
Was that the inspiration for the name, Kafein Bistro?
Yes, it was, I love coffee and it sounds nice so we just went with it. We just tweaked the name a little.
You mentioned that you saved for some time before the venture, did you use only savings as capital?
No, I had loans from friends and family. I have people who have stood with me through the toughest times to make Kafein Bistro what it is today. We are not there yet and it is not easy but this is one of most fulfilling things I have done in my life. I am grateful to have a supportive spouse, family, and friends. I also happened to meet a diligent consultant hotelier, Miriam Nabakwe who has been instrumental in the set-up of the business.
What are the challenges have you faced as you tried to set up Kafein Bistro?
The insane number of licenses you have to pay for and get is heartbreaking. The systems to get the licenses work but they are just too many. I wish there was a way the licenses could be packaged by business type. Getting a good location and one that was ready in time to begin operations was a major setback as it took one and half years to commence.
Here is a video to give you a feel of what we felt…
Would you advice any investor or entrepreneur to explore the Kenyan Market?
Yes. I have had people ask why I decided to invest here even with the corruption and the grim looking economy. The Kenyan economy is growing. You can’t make a long term decision based on teething problems. Kenyans are resilient and just because the economy looks like it’s failing it is not. We have weathered worse storms and this isn’t an exception. We will emerge stronger as we always do.
How have you been able to balance your personal dreams and your family’s dreams?
I haven’t been able to. It’s just one of those things you take a gamble and hope everything will work out and that you will not disappoint anyone in the process. So far, I thank God we have been able to hold everything together.
Why did you pick Ngong’ road?
We did not exactly pick Ngong’ Road, we were looking for a location that wasn’t crowded with Café’s but viable. That’s when we found Marsabit Plaza, I could say it was luck and of course some good Karma.
Isn’t there too much competition in the restaurant industry?
Yes, there is but you can’t fail to start a business because there are similar businesses. You just have to be strategic and offer something exceptional that will set you apart from your competitors.
How do you unwind?
I honestly don’t have a straight answer for that. I don’t remember the last time I thought about unwinding. Being a new entrepreneur I am at the point where I am breastfeeding, changing diapers and trying to clear nappy rash for my business so I unwind in my sleep.
What advice would you give Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurs – at – heart?
For entrepreneurs, I would advise you all to be resilient. If you feel uncertain but you still want to venture into a certain business do it. You learn and grow by doing.
Kafein Bistro is located on Marsabit Plaza on Mezzanine floor opposite Ligi Ndogo/Harlequins Grounds on Ngong road. For more info, visit their website kafeinbistro.co.ke or just walk in and enjoy the finest coffee and ambiance made in Meru.