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Norda Industries rises like a phoenix from the ashes to top SME in Kenya

For 14 years, Norda Industries has treated the market to fast-moving consumer goods, processing and selling different snacks such as baked corn rings and corn curls as well as potato crisps. Urban Bites, one of the company’s anchor products is one of the most recognisable snack brand in Kenya and East Africa today. Other products in its stable include Ringoz, Tamu Tamu, Bitez, Urban Stix and Cribaz.

The company was founded in 2008 by Tajdin Hussain Jaffer, his wife Khatun Jaffer and their grandson Faraz Ramji. The pair owns FMCG Industries that has operated successfully in Rwanda for more than 60 years. ‘‘We entered the Kenyan market in search of growth opportunities,” says Shaheen Lilani, Norda’s managing director who joined the company in 2017.

Today, the company has about 330 employees and supports dozens of smallholder farmers by buying their produce as its main raw material. These growers are in groups of 20 or more individuals per cooperative. They supply potatoes to Norda as a unit. “Working with small-scale farmers for the supply of good quality potatoes, better pricing of products and planning,” says Shaheen on what has made the business stand out in the market.

Resilience has also been a strength for Norda. In 2017, the business suffered a major setback when a fire destroyed its premises in Kenya. An investment worth more than Sh100 million went up in smoke. “We lost everything physically and financially. The family experienced immense psychological damage. We had to shut down our operations for seven months,” the MD recounts.

When the business reopened in 2018, it came back stronger than before the disaster, with larger capacity machinery. Then in 2020 when Norda had projected even more growth and stability, the Covid-19 global pandemic struck. “Unlike many businesses that were laying off their workers, we were lucky to double our workforce.”

Shaheen says affordability, taste and quality products have been the brand’s strengths, which have fueled its growth in the last decade. It may be a family business, but Norda is run with professionalism like other companies. “Good governance is key to our operations. We have engaged a consulting firm that is helping us audit our processes,” says Shaheen

Rebuilding from fire engulfing the entire factory in June 2017, Norda Industries’ post tragedy success story is like no other. The fast growing snacks manufacturing entity rose like a phoenix to become the overall top SME in 2022. Norda has become a household name with significance in high quality and affordable snacks in the East African Community.

Multidisciplinary team, well thought strategies and planning in the past five years necessitated bouncing back to success under the leadership of outgoing Managing Director Mr. Faraz Ramji and Mr. Shaheen Lilani, directing the business to present.

Norda Industries’ mission is to be innovative and provide quality and outstanding products at affordable prices. The organization’s mission implementation is pivotal in Norda’s gain for a sizable market share and tremendous growth that saw the snacks manufacturing company emerge as top SME in the just concluded KPMG top 100 best performing companies in Kenya.

In quest for diversity and wider market reach, the company continues to embrace innovation through research & development with aid of technology in coming up with new flavors, designs and categories aimed at exciting its ever-grateful consumers. The shareholders and trade partners’ support with constant involvement has been pivotal in the organization’s milestones achieved this far.

The company solemnly relies on potatoes and maize for raw materials to its market leading products, all sourced from farmers and maize millers respectively to its ‘Buy Kenya, Build Kenya’ initiative. Norda Industries prides in manufacturing market leading products under the brand names Urban Bites, Urban Stix, Cribaz, Ringoz, Tamu Tamu, Bitez and recently launched Knax. Not the least, the company is venturing in sweets manufacturing under the brand Safi Sweets, comprising mint, fruit drops and lollipops. Commitment in following best practices to ensure highest quality standards are met consistently remains key in the organization.

The product range has continuously gained substantial market share locally and across borders to Uganda, Tanzania & Rwanda. With an ambitious expansion strategy, Norda’s management always advocated for new product launches in meeting diverse consumer needs and a responsibility awareness to its consumers in ensuring food safety is top priority.

The Norda family has always registered its utmost gratefulness to its esteemed directors and business partners as demonstrated in support and continuous involvement.

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