Five years after the launch: Laki Laki ready for next step

In 2011, social entrepreneur Joost Timpers took his business model of Laki Laki, revolving about a freshly produced, healthy yoghurt drink, to Kenya. Five years later, he has succeeded in the first part of his mission – providing a steady source of income for a local orphanage. Laki Laki may be ready for next steps, such as partnerships with orphanages in other parts of Kenya. “Possibly even by franchising outside Kenya”, Timpers says.

Joost’s plan of locally producing and marketing a yoghurt & fruit drink that is beneficial to both tourists as well as young Kenyan orphans, has come a long way. He found a local orphanage with a cow farm, which was able to produce the milk in the right quality. He hired the right local staff. He reached an agreement with the investors that enabled him set up a production line.

Local-style label

Timpers also developed a beautiful yoghurt bottle with a local-style label. All quality control hurdles have been taken and Laki Laki found its way to consumers via supermarkets and other retail channels. Laki Laki was also ‘adopted’ by the local hospitality industry that loved the idea of local fresh produce, both for the good cause that it supports and for the great taste and quality of the product.

Hotel chains

“Today, we are successful among large and well-known international-chain hotels. Hilton was our first customer in this industry, later followed by Villa Rosa Kempinski and Fairmont Hotels, with three hotels in Kenya. Together with Doxis Bekris, the Executive chef of Fairmont, we developed a buffet concept whereby products are displayed in containers with a nice wooden stand. Products are kept cold in crushed ice. Also Fairmont wanted to show their commitment to vulnerable children in Kenya by having their logo on the product”, Joost explains, who is exceptionally proud of his team of six employees who have helped make the product a hit in Kenya’s hotel scene.

5,000 litres of milk

Production is now at 50.000 bottles per month, from a milk production of 5,000 litres. Laki Laki also had to make some choices. “The product is no longer available via Kenya’s retail channel. There is quite a lot of competition in supermarkets. Also catering for this channel can be very complicated at times, especially in terms of logistics. The hospitality scene better suits our strengths, with weekly delivery runs and larger volumes.”

Lewa Childrens Home

Another ‘next step’ is the change of location. “We found a new and larger orphanage, Lewa Childrens Home in Eldoret, with a larger cow farm and better facilities for our factory. Although we face higher cost of logistics, this turned out to be the better deal.” Supported by expertise available at the Eldoret cow farm, Laki Laki was able to expand its product range, with Gouda cheese and Greek yoghurt. “The change allows us to boost our revenues at our current customers. This will hopefully allow us to take the next hurdle – becoming a more stable and self-sufficient company, more robust and geared to overcome temporary setbacks. And in the end, to become social enterprise that actually makes money to invest in further development and expansion.

Partner with other orphanages

“We do get requests from other orphanages in Kenya to partner with them the way Lewa does. We may also look into similar opportunities in Tanzania. It would require us to set up a franchise formula. We would need the support of our investors – seven private investors, ed. – and a lot of courage. The achieve is robustness, we are looking for the one large customer that can takes us to the next level.”

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