Abdureshed Shafad, the Chief Executive Officer of African Foam Industries Limited, a fast growing foam manufacturing company in Athi-river town Kenya, had kept an idea under the warps until 2013 when he established the firm.
Shafad knew very well as he was growing up that in the business world it’s not about ideas, but it’s about making ideas work, and therefore when his friend approached him with an idea of starting mattress business in Kenya he immediately embarked on it.
In fact this businessperson was lucky to have set his feet in Kenya’s manufacturing sector that has continued to experience considerable growth over the review period, which is attributed to the increased purchasing power between Kenya’s middle class and upper class populations.
During a recent exclusive interview with Business Mirror, Shafad elaborated why he took his courage in booth hands to drum up this business.
BM: What motivated you to take the plunge of setting up a foam business in Kenya knowing the increased competition of these products in the retail market?
Shafad: The increasing demand of high quality mattresses in Kenya’s retail market was the driving force behind starting African foam Industries Limited. My close friend who had already made a go of foam business was an eye-opener for me to enter the market and improve the quality of people’s lives through the production and supply of foam based products that satisfy their needs.
Just before making inroads in the foam market, our firm conducted a visibility study that revealed that there were untapped opportunities in Kenyan market, especially on foam products for lower and middle-income earners. The sustained property boom had also allowed retailers to establish outlets at prime locations near residential neighbourhoods, offering more convenience to consumers. Indeed, retailing in Kenya is on an upward growth trajectory, especially supermarkets.
BM: What advantage do you see African Foam have in the market for it to remain ahead of the pack from other mattress producers?
Shafad: Being a leading local manufacturer of mattresses in the country has helped us to get stable in the market. Our manufacturing factory in Athi-River town, Machakos County has the largest foam-making machinery capable of producing various densities of foam. It also has the latest foam production machines to produce contemporary designs of mattresses available in the market, and cutting and sizing machines give us the ability to cater forall market segments.
The fact that we know the mattress market is competitive has made our team jump on the bandwagon and promote the high quality mattresses produced in the factory. The retail boom which has emerged lately in Kenya with the entry of global retail chains has given the firm an opportunity to increase its production positioning it as the largest manufacturer of quality foam in the country and East Africa.
BM: Can you tell our readers what type of foam products you manufacturer as well the secret behind the positive growth of African Foam?
Shafad: The major foam products we manufacture include: mattresses which are of different types like light duty, medium duty, heavy duty, super heavy duty, baby mattress and orthopedic mattresses. We also produce foam sheets as well pillows.
African Foam has been able to understand the foam market in the country therefore inventing high quality products. Out staff know that nothing works better than just improving the company’s products, and to generate lots of buzz for our products we have promoted consumer loyalty by packaging and branding durable products.
BM: The boom in Kenyan retail market has created an opportunity every supplier will not let go. Which key retail outlets are your products currently available and what are you doing to increase the brand visibility in the industry?
Shafad: Our firm has put a stake in the ground of penetrating the Kenyan retail market fully. So far leading supermarkets like; Homematt, Genesis, Muindi Mweusi, Easy Mart just to mention a few stock our bedding products.
Emerging of new retail brands across Kenya is something we have gotten a load of. The firm has ensured that the brand remains visible by inventing new and unique products that are affordable to our customers.
BM: What plans do you have underway to ensure that African Foam becomes and remains the giant in Kenya and East Africa foam sector?
Shafad: The large and growing Kenyan population which is set to offer steady and ever-growing demand for retail products is making us play our cards right so that we are able to reach many customers.
I am determined to see that Africa Foam’s brand is well recognised both locally and internationally. Opening branches across Kenya as well as in other countries across East Africa region is the current plan we have. This as a result will definitely enable us to increase visibility of our products.