business lessons Tabitha Karanja
Home Opinions Insight & Analysis 5 Business Lessons from Tabitha Karanja, Founder of Kenya’s 2nd Largest Brewery
Insight & Analysis - March 12, 2022

5 Business Lessons from Tabitha Karanja, Founder of Kenya’s 2nd Largest Brewery

Also known as the Iron Lady of Beer, Karanja broke into the male-dominated brewing Industry.

To be successful in any business venture, it’s essential to ride on lessons trailblazing entrepreneurs like Tabitha Karanja, also known as the Iron Lady of Beer. The female entrepreneur’s prowess has seen her build a thriving business against all odds.

Tabitha is the founder of Keroche Breweries, the first alcoholic beverage wholly owned by a woman and operated by an indigenous Kenyan. Through her determination and perseverance, she emerged as one of the most successful women entrepreneurs in Kenya and a true force to be reckoned with in the beer brewing industry in Africa.

Here are five business lessons you can learn from the vibrant Kenyan entrepreneur Tabitha Karanja.

Don’t shy away from what you believe

Tabitha believes that in this 21st century, entrepreneurs, especially females, should not be afraid to be in healthy competition with men in the workplace. “What a man can do a woman can do. It’s time we showed them through action”, she said.

She started Keroche Breweries and became one of Kenya’s leading entrepreneurs in a  male-dominated business. She chose to go where no one else had gone before and shattered the mould by becoming Kenya’s first homebrewer of beer and alcoholic beverages.

What you make of business challenges matters

Before reaching the milestones with her brewery company, Karanja encountered many discouraging challenges. However, her fortitude helped her pull through. She chose to command the difficulties rather than be subdued.

The first obstacle was the crisis with her brand, following claims that they were unhealthy to consume. She also had to face a tax case in which she was ordered to pay Ksh. 1.2 billion in 14 days. Karanja battled and won the lawsuit. In addition, the Keroche Breweries billboards were removed due to allegations of unscrupulous business practices.

According to her in an interview, “the way my challenges came, you could never try to think of giving up because if I ever gave up, it meant that I could have hurt a generation, especially my children and anyone trying to come up in business. Then people would have later said, you remember that woman who started a beer business and closed down?”

Be on the lookout for a market gap 

Tabitha Karanja discovered an opportunity in the industry. She found a vacuum in the local beer sector neglected by the existing beer industry. As a result of the neglect, consumers drink anything they can find in their local villages. 

Hence, she focused on this lower end of the market. She set out to create a cheap, high-quality, international standard drink with moderate alcohol content. She penetrated this market with her easy-to-drink, inexpensive, and delicious beer. The goal was to create a beer blended for moderate consumption organically and without sugar. The product was a success, and she collaborated with the Kenyan Bureau of Standards to guarantee that the product met international quality standards.

Start your business with your capital

The best way to start a business is with your capital. According to her, “When you want to start any company, start where you are and with whatever you have. And that’s what we did. Start selling your products, and when they get well received in the market, the banks will be ready to open their doors.

When we started doing well in the market and of course, we didn’t have the capacity for the increasing demand, that’s when we went to the bank, and they were now ready to finance us”.

She did not begin with significant capital from the bank. She started small by producing a maximum of 200 litres of fortified wines at the family farm in Naivasha with five staff, using her money from the hardware store.

Dare to think big

Karanja says “Think big, do not think small. We are brought up as young women and girls to think that it is men who achieve, it is high time that we must agree that women can be business leaders”.

Tabitha Karanja did not let the stereotype in the industry deter her. Through this, she built Kenya’s first brewery into a profitable enterprise. She succeeded where others had failed in the face of a monopoly.

She said, “People thought it was not possible to break the monopoly of the existing company that was there because it has been there for 80 years. People thought it was normal for us to have only one company in this country.

I was too determined and said ‘no’. I have travelled many other parts of the world, and I saw no country had only one brewery; people had many choices, so I said that I have to go forward and let the people decide”.

READ ALSO: 7 Business Lessons from Olugbenga Agboola, Flutterwave Co-founder

Leave a Reply

Check Also

100 UK Companies Turn to Four-day Workweek with no Pay Cut 

A major victory in the battle to fundamentally alter Britain’s perspective on work h…