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Former policeman Haji Mohamed reaps big from exporting bottled water to Somalia

Haji Mohamed at his firm. He wants to expand the business to South Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi. [PHOTO: KEVIN ODIT/STANDARD]

Sunday, August 11, 2013

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He had set his focus on joining the global ranks with his brand of now popular bottled mineral water.

Haji Ahmed Mohamed, a father of six, is now the proprietor of Guru Mineral Water Company based in Mombasa  that produces Jasmine Premium Drinking Water.

The former top police officer married to Aziza, had to quit disciplined forces job to pursue the business of his choice.

The company started in 2009 has surpassed owners expectations and is today one of first pioneer suppliers of bottled mineral water in Somalia.

“My enlistment in the disciplined forces prepared me well for life’s challenges ahead. I credit my tenure in the police service, where I served with dedication for more than two decades for the recent turn of events in my business venture,’’ he said.

An idea conceived

“I researched extensively prior to venturing into water business. In fact, at one time while still a serving police officer, I went on a 60-day annual leave and sought temporary employments with a reputable mineral water company in Nairobi,” he said.

Mohamed, who likes spending his free time in mosques and reading the Quran gained lots of experience in the short duration he spent at the Nairobi-based water company.

“I gained enough knowledge and when I returned to Mombasa, I had already coined an idea of going it alone in business,’’ he observed.

He left the police force on February 24, 2010. Since then, he has given all his best to the water bottling business. His initial start up capital, which he says came monthly savings was about Sh1 million.

He used it  to buy water bottling and purifying machines from Davis and Shirtliff. He had the vigour and energy to excel and according to him nothing could stand on his way.  “A business trip to Dubai served as an eye-opener. I saw some of the latest equipment used in water bottling and on return, I  made orders that were delivered after making payment,” he said.

The company’s turnover is about Sh10 million. Mohammed said he makes a net profit of  between Sh300,000 to Sh350,000 monthly.   To date, his firm operates from a building in Bombolulu along the busy Mombasa-Malindi highway. The company has employed more than 30 workers. His products are to be found in homes, hotels and even airlines that use his branded bottled water in-flight.

Mohamed concedes the water bottling sub-sector is one of the most crowded with new investors joining the Sh12 billion industry each day.

Crowded field

It has attracted huge firm such as the Kenya Tea Packers Association ( Ketepa), whose core business is processing and packaging of tea.

Ketepa produces the Maisha water brand. SABMiller recently joined the fray by buying Crown Foods Ltd, the producers of Keringet bottled water. Kenya’s bottled water sub-sector has more than 350 players.

It is dominated by a half a dozen brands that account for more than 60 per cent of the total sales. Apart from those in direct employment, Mohamed says that there are close to 300 hawkers who sell his products in and around Mombasa city.

“I am proud to have been able to contribute to job creation in our beloved country,” he said.

Mohamed partly attributes his motivation to venture into business to the Kilome MP John Harun Mwau, who has built a vast business empire despite having served in the police service.


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