Ruth Mwanzia:Why I started water purification company

 ”Have courage to do ethical business,defend quality and  practice ageless qualities such  as  honesty and trust”Ruth Mwanzia

Ruth Mwanzia is the CEO of Koola Waters Ltd ,a 2017 top 30 under 30 CEO ,China Embassy Entrepreneurial awardee, an awardee of Nazarene University for social impact. She reiterates that the art of resilience, focus, constant quality improvement and people conscious business are paramount success factors of her innovation The 29 year old CEO talked with Impact Voices  about her entrepreneurial journey.

Ruth Mwanzia in her  Karen Office.PHOTO|TOM MWIRARIA

 How was the idea of starting a company born?

I was born in a family of three in Kyondoni village-Kitui. Kitui experiences two rain seasons but the rain is usually sporadic and non-promising. As  a  little  girl   aged five ,every morning before going  to  school  I would  walk though thorns  and desolate  surface for  45  minutes to fetch water from a  seasonal  river  named Ithekethe.The river was a dirty trickle ,it  was  brown, sometimes yellow.It moved lazily over sun-baked stones.We  shared  it’s waters with our famished donkeys,goats,sheep and cattle. An entire  family would use a ration of  two jelicans  per day. It is the same  water  we  used for cooking ‘cleaning’  utensils  and washing clothes.The water  still had a sour ,putrid ,taste  and it permanently stained the teeth with a brown tint. It did not care for toddler’s  unsteady teeth nor the elderly’s  scarce  teeth.We  would  boil  the  water but  basic boiling  does  not kill all the  pathogens such as  viruses, bacteria   and  protozoa  present in water. Sometimes there were dysentery and cholera outbreaks. It claimed the lives of children and many an adult.

How did you start the Company?

I joined African Nazarene University in 2012 to pursue a Bachelor’s degree Mass Communication-Electronic Media major. Despite shooting a barrage of applications to media houses I never   got a chance. My career bubble as a videographer or producer was  burst giving up  is not my portion .I changed gears  and  took up an internship with Water  Resources Management Authority. I  garnered experience in water  management and water  technologies such as reverse Osmosis ,administration ,communication and  public relations.I knew  time was ripe to impact on those thirsting souls. Vivid consciousness of water menace in  Kitui constantly  urged me  to  intervene. My immediate thoughts were to dig a community borehole or buy a water bowser to supply safe and affordable water to families in sheer need. My family advised me to focus on water manufacturing, treatment, purification and distribution .I valued their insight and chose to treat, purify and distribute water for human consumption. With savings from college I  started  the company Koola in 2014 .

Ruth Mwanzia and her team.PHOTO|TOM MWIRARIA

  What level is your company?

In a loop of  three  years  the  company has  steadily grown to become  a  middle  level size with  fifteen employees. I began with small purification machine but with time the company acquired a bigger  and  more efficient machine. We also dug a borehole in Karen.The production capacity is  1000 liters per day.

What are some challenges that you encountered?

It was an uphill task acquiring the first ten customers and penetrating into prospective markets .The prospects would resist our product. They  woud  be  skeptical of  the  product because  there  are counterfeits  and  products  of  weak quality that have littered the market .

We faced stiff competition from well established brands -establishments with a strong budget muscle and elaborate marketing function. At the onset we were not getting the right people to work and that was a major hurdle.

How did you overcome the challenges?

We gave out many samples  and leave  business cards with potential   customers hoping someday they would dial up .After they trusted  our product, the  customers  would  call and  make  an order .We  retained the  customers  by  timely delivery  consistent  improvement of the  product  and  aggressive marketing campaigns. We make the brand visible through social media and taking about it whenever we get the slightest opportunity to take about the solutions we offer. My background in communication and public relations has contributed to the thrift off the businesss,I’m an ambassador of the product wherever I go. Thus far our market share has reached ten counties and growing.

We faced off with competition by mapping out our competitors,ridging their weakness and consistently improving of our product to make it crispier.

To  attract  the right employees  we adopted  new hiring approach We  not only hired based on skills and  experience but attitude ,professional ethics ,readiness  to fuse with our culture and  live our values  . Initially we were not getting right people to work with; we did not have an efficient work force.

Resilience was the bone and spine that saw Koola waters become a middle  sized company .

What advice do you have to young entrepreneurs?

The root of successful business is to believe in the light that prompts one to take entrepreneurial path. Take a brave step and start  despite the odds because the  circumstances  are temporary and  passing .Bravery  is  starting even when  venturing into business frightens. Have courage to do ethical business, and defend  quality and  practice ageless  qualities  such  as  honesty and trust. Even if resources are meager, do not procrastinate the idea –begin and   bootstrap  by cutting  unnecessary  costs. Multiply the little profits by injecting back   into business  while  retaining a   fraction of it in liquid for mundane  business needs. Market aggressively especially using low cost new media, word of mouth and seek referral. I urge entrepreneurs to set big discrete goals and until the magnitude of the goals scares them  but be bold enough to rise up  each dawn  in pursuit  of  the  dream. Break the goals into small reason daily, weekly and monthly steps .Put your mind, effort and  soul   into achieving of the milestones . Before you know it you will have achieved the goal within the predetermined time scope. Once the  goal  is   achieved ,set  another goal and  keep expanding .Be  focused   lest you  be ensnared and  distracted by other  ideas before  the big idea becomes fruity. Above all trust in   the counsel of the Almighty, He knows what the best is for you.

 By  Tom Mwiraria






3 thoughts on “Ruth Mwanzia:Why I started water purification company

  1. martinmutuku says:

    Ruth Mwanzia you are doing a great job and going places. I’m inspired by your entrepreneurial story. I like this part, “Above all trust in the counsel of the Almighty..”


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