Kingsway Group of Companies: Manish Shah Shares Kingsway’s Latest Business Ventures in Kenya

In this exclusive interview, Manish Shah discusses Kingsway Group of Companies’ diverse business ventures. Known for its hospitality operations such as the Village Market Mall and hotels, Kingsway also focuses on special economic zones to foster manufacturing and trade partnerships across Eastern and Central Africa. Shah highlights their innovative agro-processing initiative aimed at maximizing groundnut utilization and empowering local farmers, and outlines Kingsway’s strategic moves into electric vehicle manufacturing and fiber optics, emphasizing their commitment to sustainable growth and investment opportunities in Kenya and the region.

Interview with Manish Shah, Executive Chairman at Kingsway Group of Companies

What are the key sectors Kingsway Group of Companies operates in?

Kingsway Group is primarily involved in hospitality. We have the Village Market Mall, which is specifically built as a family recreation and entertainment mall. We also have two hotels, and have recently acquired another.

Additionally, we are promoting investment in Kenya through special economic zones. These zones attract partners in manufacturing, services, and trading, not just for Kenya but for the broader Eastern and Central African region. Our strategic location within the diplomatic circle allows us to create services that cater to the needs of this community. For instance, we are developing long-term stay apartments with detailed features tailored for our target market.

We are also venturing into agro-processing in Kenya with a new project focused on zero waste. Every part of the groundnut will be utilized to produce various products like peanut milk, peanut butter, peanut cream, and RUTF, a high-protein product for malnourished children supported by UNICEF and other agencies. Even the peanut shells will be used to manufacture biodegradable items like plates and cups. This initiative will benefit peanut farmers in Kenya by introducing groundnuts as a significant cash crop, which is currently underutilized.

Could you elaborate on your manufacturing operations within the Special Economic Zones?

Kenya has recently signed trade agreements with the US and Europe that grant absolute duty-free access for goods produced in Kenya. This means that any product manufactured in Kenya and exported to these markets will be imported duty-free by those countries.

Currently, there is a noticeable trend of China dumping electric vehicles (EVs) into various markets. In response, we plan to start manufacturing two-wheelers in Kenya, then expand to three-wheelers, and eventually to four-wheelers, including passenger electric vehicles. This progression represents a significant industry shift for us.

However, this opportunity is not limited to us alone. Others can also benefit from these favorable trade terms and export to a broader global market, not just within Africa. Our neighboring countries, too, will find these products crucial as they adopt new, forward-looking methods of transportation.

Typically, what can be done within the Economic Zones? Can you provide some details?

Having extensive experience in trading, importing, and distribution in Kenya, we have a deep understanding of the market needs. For instance, Kenya is planning to lay down 100,000 kilometers of fiber optic cable. Anyone manufacturing fiber optic cables and related accessories in Kenya would significantly benefit from this initiative.

Understanding the future market potential in Africa, especially with Kenya’s ambitious plans, is crucial. The fiber optic industry is particularly important for Africa’s growth. This is why we chose to focus on this industry. In the future, without robust internet infrastructure and the use of IoT in both manufacturing and services, Kenya risks being left behind.

Could you also talk about the agro-industry and agro-processing projects in more detail? What are your plans, and what will these projects bring to the market? Who are you planning to sell to, and will you be exporting these products? Can you give us more details on that and the advantages these projects offer?

Currently, peanut farming in Kenya typically yields two crops a year, but with proper techniques and support, it could potentially increase to three crops annually. Additionally, the variety of seeds currently used for peanut farming is relatively weak. By providing farmers with stronger seed varieties, we can significantly boost yields.

Peanut farming in Kenya is predominantly done by women. Therefore, empowering these women is crucial because, in Africa, women often bear the primary responsibility for their families. Enhancing the value of their farming efforts can positively impact generations.

A major issue in the current system is the presence of numerous middlemen. Our goal is to streamline this process by using IT solutions to create a direct farm-to-factory system. This approach leverages Kenya’s M-PESA app, enabling immediate, direct payments to farmers for their products. This eliminates the need for middlemen and ensures that farmers are fairly compensated without delays or interference.

How exactly will this process work? What is your role in the whole operation?

Kingsway Group of Companies will play a key role by setting up collection centers. One of the biggest issues local farmers face is dealing with aflatoxins, which occur due to improper storage conditions and lack of heating. This often leads to significant losses, as the product can become non-consumable and might even need to be discarded.

By establishing these centers, we can ensure proper storage and handling of the peanuts. After collecting, we will process them into various products such as peanut milk, peanut butter, and peanut cream. We will also produce peanut oil for cooking and massage oils. Additionally, the peanut shells will be used to create biodegradable plates and other disposable products, which are eco-friendly and break down in the soil, unlike plastics.

Can you tell us more about the investment opportunities Kingsway Group of Companies offers to international investors? What possibilities are there for those who want to joint venture or partner with you?

We provide a wide range of investment opportunities because we have a deep understanding of market dynamics in Kenya and Africa. For example, one major global challenge is climate change. Our group is addressing this by planting bamboo trees.

Bamboo is an excellent choice because it can be converted into a sustainable alternative to traditional wood, which can be used for furniture, housing, and other purposes. We have recently started this project, and the benefits of planting bamboo are significant. Bamboo grows rapidly, much like nails; it can be harvested and then regrows. This means that farmers can earn steady revenue for the next 40 years or more by supplying bamboo to us or to a factory for wood conversion.

There are numerous investment opportunities in Kenya and East and Central Africa. Investors can partner with us and potentially achieve higher returns than they might currently get in Europe or other regions, all while enjoying secure financing and solid investment protections.

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