Patrick Wainaina ‘wa Jungle’: Kenyan Who Rose from Taking Care of the Old and Sick Job in the US to Building One of the Largest Nut Companies in Kenya

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Many successful people all over the world have often started from a low point to reach where they are or successfully succeed in life, and such is the story of Patrick Wainaina ‘wa Jungle,’ who rose from nursing the elderly in the USA to building a profitable nuts company in Kenya.

Wainaina’s narrative begins in 1996 when he made a pivotal decision to leave his role as a mechanical engineer at the Kenya Nuts Company.

Driven by a desire to broaden his horizons, he went to the United States to pursue studies in Marketing.

Little did he know that this move would set the stage for a transformative career and the establishment of Jungle Nuts.

However, life in the U.S. proved to be challenging as securing a well-paying job proved elusive.

Undeterred, Wainaina took up employment as a caregiver for the elderly, a role that not only provided him with a source of income but also instilled in him a deep sense of resilience.

During this period, he managed to save approximately Sh300,000 and immersed himself in studying the intricacies of the macadamia industry, laying the groundwork for his future endeavors.

Upon returning to Kenya, Wainaina rented a warehouse, purchased second-hand machines, and embarked on the entrepreneurial journey.

However, financial constraints soon presented themselves, leading to the temporary closure of his business. Despite this setback, Wainaina’s determination remained unshaken.

Turning to employment at Safaricom, he joined a Sacco, saving Sh20,000 monthly for five years. This disciplined approach allowed him to regroup and re-enter the entrepreneurial arena.

Collaborating with a friend, he formed a group and secured financing from a micro-finance institution.

Armed with newfound resources, Wainaina traversed Central Kenya, forging connections with macadamia farmers, and rekindling his dream of establishing Jungle Nuts.

With a combination of savings, strategic alliances, and industry knowledge, Wainaina felt confident enough to kick-start Jungle Nuts. His initial breakthrough came from a connection made during his time in the U.S., securing a contract worth Ksh400,000. This early success not only boosted his business but also laid the foundation for the company’s reputation.

Jungle Nuts went on to achieve significant milestones, winning the Top 100 SMEs award in 2011. The company’s impact extends beyond economic success, with initiatives like the Jungle Nuts Foundation providing mentorship programs and employment opportunities that have touched thousands of lives.

Expanding beyond its original focus on cashew nuts, macadamia nuts, and peanuts, Jungle Nuts has diversified its product line to include hass avocados, macadamia oil, avocado oil, and assorted dried foods.

Their sourcing strategy involves obtaining cashews from the Coastal part of Kenya and macadamia from the mineral-rich highland soils of Mt. Kenya.

The company collaborates with farmers in various regions, including Kiambu, Meru, Embu, Kirinyaga, Murang’a, Nyeri, Kitale, Taita, and Bungoma.

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