Driving Innovation and Dominance in Packaging: An Interview with Maurice Oyuyo, CFO at Silafrica

In this exclusive interview, CFO Maurice Oyuyo highlights Silafrica’s vision and position in the packaging industry in Kenya and East Africa. Oyuyo sees Silafrica as a dominant player in the packaging space, focused on tailored solutions for packaging, improving plastic usage, and providing innovative solutions to B2B customers. The company offers a wide range of products, including high-quality crates and innovative foldable crates that address environmental concerns.

Interview with Maurice Oyuyo, CFO at Silafrica

Maurice Oyuyo, CFO at Silafrica

What is your vision of Silafrica?

For me, Silafrica means dominance in the packaging space. It is a company that wants to find solutions that tailor towards packaging, improving the usage of plastics and being able to offer solutions to other business-to-business customers. When I walk around, I see a lot of innovations, a lot of thought in terms of what they are providing, and a lot of solutions in terms of what is impacting businesses here in Kenya. Just by being there and interacting with businesses, that is what I am looking at. How I can be part of that core that is redefining the packaging space. When you look at the foldable crates, that is an ingenious idea that for the time being nobody will be able to replicate, or even be able to measure up to because it solves a specific problem. That is why I look at the business today.

What is Silafrica’s scope of business?

From my point of view from a few months of interaction, I see the business as one that has a good footprint across East Africa and a business that is willing to advance its technology and be able to offer solutions that are superior to the local competition. I do not see the business as one that looks into what the other competitors are doing, and want to do, but one that wants to take leadership in the space that they are playing in, be able to create value, be ahead of the pack in terms of competitiveness and to continue innovations. Then we can give customers exactly what they are looking for and that way we can stay ahead of the competitive pack.

What are some of the products you offer?

In the rigid plastics space, we provide crates. Whenever you see a Coca Cola crate, the first thing I look at is who is the manufacturer and where it comes from. You look at the quality of those crates. As a business we did not know where they came from or who made them, so to be able to see the core of these products in the manufacturing process actually gives me a lot of pride to know that Silafrica has been at the forefront for a long time now as a business. The thing that I love the most is the foldable crates. I had heard about it, but I had not been in the business. You look at exporters of avocados, they spend a huge amount of money on disposable cartons. When you look at the back end of it, you need a lot of trees to manufacture those cartons and forests are not one of the big things in Kenya, or probably East Africa, so we need to be able to find solutions that not only protect the environment, can be used for some time and are actually durable. It is just the realization of how far the business has come and the level of innovation and technology that is being put into play here. I do not think that is something that you can easily copy or match up with but you have to think harder to be able to play in that space. When I was living near the airport, I noticed crates that you put your bags and shoes and whatever in and I thought, well, somebody made these crates somewhere. It is just one of those amazing things you see in Silafrica. Now I look at the bottom of crates to see who is making them as I know this company is in a massive space in our lives that you probably do not notice if you do not play in that space.

Circular economy has been the heart of Silafrica but it comes at a cost, so what are its impacts?

Cutting edge technology comes at a huge cost in terms of investment. For me, it is very interesting and exciting to see how the board views this because to be able to invest ahead of the curve without having had a proof of concept is not cheap. Some investments take time to recoup when you look at the landscape and the changes that you are making, but I am certain that those investments will pay off.

What are the benefits of Silafrica’s plans to open businesses in other countries?

I think being able to move into southern Africa and be closer to customers who operate in that space would cement our relationships and operations with them, and give us top of mind choice in terms of how we conduct our business. I think it is a good initiative simply because when a customer knows they can rely on your business they can then invest in it and build up their business around you. That helps a lot in the process.

What are the benefits for investors to invest in Silafrica?

I think it is an exciting opportunity for investors looking at investing in this region, or in the plastics industry, because there are not many players in that space who are able to say they have the footprint that Silafrica has across the region. In terms of products and product offerings, I do not think there are many beyond Silafrica in this region in terms of what they are willing to offer and what we have in scope here. So, when I look at Silafrica as a business, I think it is right for investors who are looking to have a good footprint in the region.

Africa is projected to have the world’s biggest population in the future. Do you think it can become a manufacturing leader like China has been?

Absolutely. Actually, it is a very interesting conversation. I have attended some high-level conversations with one of the big banks, not just in Kenya, but across the region, and part of the discussions they are having is that this is the next frontier. The biggest labor force will come from Africa. The biggest marketing will come from Africa. The available land for expansion is in Africa. When COVID struck China, the whole world was paralyzed, so the world is looking for an alternative to diversify operations and investments, so as not to go back to what it was a couple of years ago. Essentially, it is a great opportunity to be able to have a footprint on this continent. And to do that now I think is a necessity because it will be near impossible in the next couple of years to get such a footprint as all eyes are on this continent and everybody is trying to step in and then create their future portfolios from here. That is what I see now. The banks are willing to fund those exercises, and everybody is needing to put money behind those conversations to make sure they create a platform to drive the world in the near future.

What inspires you to do what you do?

For me, I think the biggest attraction for this position was simply because of the footprint. Being able to walk across the continent and see what opportunities you can drive within the continent. To grow shareholders value, but above all seeing the kind of offerings that the business is offering. I found a business that is offering solutions, and so being a part of a business that drives solutions and addresses value for the stakeholders were the biggest attractions. And of course, also the team that they have in place. When I spoke to them during my interview process, I found a team that is excited about building a business and being able to drive a business that can grow value. I found that to be a very interesting challenge. It was not just a business where you come in and do your job 8 to 5 and then go home. It is a business where you can drive and develop and put infrastructure in place and be able to propel this to the next level. That was quite a big motivation in my decision.

ABOUT SILAFRICA: Silafrica has been the leading manufacturer and supplier of the most innovative and sustainable rigid plastic packaging solutions in Kenya and East Africa for beverage, food, personal and home care, and chemicals since 1957, implementing revolutionary packaging solutions, such as: foldable crates, recyclable stretch wrap, in-mould labelled yoghurt cups and multipurpose crates.


WEBSITE: https://silafrica.com

LINKEDIN: www.linkedin.com/company/silafrica

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/silafricakenya

ADDRESS: Plot 4 – Migwani Road, Off Enterprise Road, Nairobi, Kenya

CONTACT: (+254) 722 330 476

EMAIL: info@silafrica.com

ABOUT AKSHAY SHAH: www.linkedin.com/in/akshayshahafrica


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