Sylvia Kuria is an organic farmer, trainer, and founder of Sylvia’s Basket, a retail organic produce outlet based at Soko Safi Mall on Ngong Road next to Green House Building in Nairobi.
In this piece, she shares about the passion behind her business and how she has used technology to upscale her business.
How she started
In 2009, Sylvia started a kitchen garden that got her questioning the food safety she was feeding her family. So, in 2013, she decided to try out organic farming which confirmed just how harmful pesticides are for the environment and human health.
“Weaning my children into solids, made me resolve that I would feed them with whole food that is not laced with chemicals.”
She researched and attended various organic farming training that helped her get started. With time, she began selling her organic produce to her friends and doing vegetable deliveries to homes and offices.
“I used to receive the payments on my personal MPESA line. This was not very efficient because business money was getting mixed up with my money. I would end up buying my household bread and milk with the business money, which caused such a headache when doing the reconciliations,” says Sylvia.
Automating the Payment system
As her business expanded, Sylvia opened a website and had to rethink how to safely make online payments in a professional and efficient manner. “
“I incorporated iPay’s payment system which accommodates various payments in one platform. The advantage of using iPay is that the system generates reports of all my sales. This helps me to do weekly reconciliation and these records will always be available for referencing or cross-checking.”
Sylvia opened an organic shop in November 2019 which enabled her to expand her product offering.
“I always had a dream to have a shop that provides an outlet for organic farmers including the small players. Through the iPay platform, I can conveniently pay organic farmers who bring to us 5 – 10 kg produce as well as settle all my supplier payments weekly directly to their bank accounts.”
This efficiency in payments has enabled her to focus on her core business and the business has grown from 20 -30 baskets deliveries per week to 50 – 70 baskets in a span of five months.
Reduced Prices during Covid-19 pandemic
With a mantra that good health is for everyone, Sylvia’s basket is intentional about keeping their vegetables affordable. The shop remains open during the Covid-19 pandemic to ensure its clients have their usual weekly basket of vegetables and fruit in season.
“In this time of a pandemic, “we are aware that many people have their incomes compromised, so for the next few months, until we are back to normal, we have reduced the prices of our leafy greens and will continue maintaining these low prices so that Kenyans have affordable and healthy food to eat during this pandemic,” says Sylvia.
At this time, when there are global health concerns, it is important to boost one’s immunity. Sylvia recommends an increase in the intake of various types of vegetables, including multiple coloured vegetables like beetroots, pumpkins, and leafy vegetables.