What are your full names, your age (if you do not mind), the name of your business and your role in it?
Peninah Njeri Kang’iri, 40 years old and a mother of 2.
I am the founder of Nina’s Cuisine’s, a catering company based in Kiambu but with operations countrywide and specialising in Outside Catering.
What’s Your Story? How did you start, what is your motivation, what problem are you solving etc.
The origin of Ninas’ Cuisine has been a long time coming. I have loved cooking since I was 5 years of age as I watched my mum prepare the family meals. Eventually, she would let me have my own jiko to prepare my own meal after much nagging. My food would then end up being better than hers and a favorite with my siblings.
I was also exposed to large scale catering from a young age as my mum used to also volunteer to cook at local church weddings or other ceremonies. While in high school, l took home science as a subject, took it seriously and enjoyed every minute of it. l continuously improved my culinary skills and again, my siblings could not have enough of what I had in store for their taste buds.
Immediately after high school, I joined a church where the youth were heavily invested in catering for all the church weddings, we would use that time to bond as we also honed our skills. From that exposure, I considered my interest in cooking as just a mere hobby, and when I joined college, l pursued a diploma in Social Work and Community Development and a second diploma in Co-operative Development. I was employed for 12 years, first by a Microfinance organization as a Loan Officer, followed by a Mission Hospital as a Social worker, and finally by a Cooperative Sacco as a Credit Officer.
At home, I had taken my cooking a step further by looking up recipes and trying them out, setting up buffet and hosting family for every conceivable occasion. My growing son would continuously insist that whatever we cook should be packed and sold to other people for them to also get a taste of what we were eating in our home. It is at this point I realized I needed to do something about it.
In early 2019, while in church, I became acquainted to one Alex – now turned friend and mentor – who had his own catering company. I got really excited to see the business side of cooking and immediately volunteered to help out in his events. This went on for about 9 months, during which time I gained the confidence to start out also though as a side hustle while still in employment.
By the end of that year, I got my first event!
The event was to cater for about 60 people. I, however, did not have a registered company name or the resources needed for this event. I had to go back to my mentor Alex again and he offered to “rent” me one of his finest chef to come help out. Believe me, that event was a resounding success. Alex, wherever you are, thank you so much for your support and guidance!
After seeing what I was able to do for those clients, I would later come up with a name for my business and have it registered as Ninas’ Cuisines.
In mid-2020, unfortunately I lost my job following layoffs at my employers. The company was experiencing dwindling business fortunes because of the pangs of Covid-19. This again pushed me to think fast and hard as I had to provide for my children with no source of income. For me, this was now time to go full time into what I thought was just but a side hustle. Truth be told, this has so far been the best decision I ever made.
Nina’s Cuisine’s is celebrating its 2nd year in the culinary space. We have successfully catered for over 20 events with the highest number served standing at 1,000pax. We have also served over 300 individual meals on customer request. Our clientele has mainly been Nairobi residents due to the proximity. Our growth is mainly attributed to the high quality and flavor of our meals.
What motivates you to do what you do everyday?
What motivates me most is seeing a client happy and exceeding their expectation. Among my family and friends, I have become the go to caterer. I enjoy what I do, and even when we have to work all through the night to cater for big events, the success of the event is motivation enough for my next event. I have learned from each past event in order for me to make the next one even better. At Nina’s Cuisines, we are growing day by day because we embrace failure as learning process also.
Who has been your biggest motivation to do what you do?
My children. I have realized that the more they see their mum do what she loves, the more they are happy. I don’t know how true this is but I am told, a happy mum equals a happy home.
What unseen opportunities do you see that may result in making your business a huge success?
Business grows by identifying emerging customer needs and catering for that need. Nina’s Cuisines has recognized that need and has grown further into hiring out of catering equipment.
What is your parting shot for those wishing to join the entrepreneurship train?
For those interested in entrepreneurship, identify your gift and talents. Remember there is no school that can give you a gift. We go to school to sharpen what we already have. You are not poor in anyway, it’s just that you have not nurtured the gift in you.
How can clients reach your business?
Instagram : @ninascuisines
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Get real time update about this post categories directly on your device, subscribe now.