When all his six USB cables stopped working despite being brand new, Anthony Muthungu saw a business idea and has never looked back.
Muthungu founded TotoSci Holdings Ltd, Kenya’s first USB cable manufacturing company based in Kirinyaga County.
Before he started making the cables, Muthungu embarked on research to find out why they broke down despite being in good condition.
“I started asking my friends on Facebook to sell me their USB cables that were not working. Within a short time, I had more than 5,000 USB cables,” he said in a recent interview.
“I documented each cable, identified mistakes, and then said to my team ‘let us build a cable that is durable, authentic and of high quality’, which we did.”
Muthungu, who holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics degree from Karatina University, then assembled a team of computer, software, mechanical and electrical engineers.
“So, we have a lot of strength when it comes to technical know-how,” Muthungu said.
The team embarked on getting the right equipment, opting to have them locally made and only imported what they could not find within the country.
“We import some (machines) from China as well as fabricate others at Nairobi’s Industrial Area,” he adds.
The factory located at the two-storey Kenya Industrial Estate (KIE) building at the Kiangwaci Centre, Kirinyaga County, produces between 300 to 500 USB cables per day, but Muthungu plans to scale up the production.
“We will be able to make even 10,000 pieces per day if we can get some machines,” Muthungu said.
The company sources raw materials such as injection plastics, wires, and recycled plastics locally and import connectors from China and India.
TotoSci sold its first product two weeks ago and has so far sold nearly 1,000 cables. They have a wholesale shop at Almana Hall, opposite Luthuli House in Nairobi, where they sell the micro USB cable at Sh135, Sh165 for type C, and iPhone Sh200.
The company has employed five people directly with an additional 20 indirectly on the supply chain. Muthungu said he has invested about Sh3 million from his personal savings as well as from friends.
“You start small then you grow. But if you wait until you get Sh3 million to start a business then that will not happen. You make one step at a time and that is how I have been able to reach here,” he noted.
The company’s products have been approved by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) and the Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency (Keproba).
“I would be lying if I say that the government has not supported me,” he added.
Muthungu said he is looking to start manufacturing earphones by 2023 and assemble phones by 2025.
“By 2026, hopefully, we will have started making phones, earphones, and chargers all at a go.”
He mentioned high taxation, stringent regulations from government authorities, and costly fuel and electricity prices as his main challenges. He disclosed that they spend roughly Sh80-Sh90 to manufacture one USB cable.
“If the government can eradicate counterfeit products then we will be able to compete with imported products,” Muthungu asserted.