German Manufacturer Stihl, has invested Sh500 million to set up shop in the Kenyan market as the regional hub for Eastern Africa.
Through its subsidiary Stihl East Africa, the firm is bringing a wide range of innovative products in agriculture, forestry, landscaping, construction and cleaning sectors, aiming to increase its market share by 50 percent.
Stihl East Africa Managing Director Francois Marais says the investment is spread across warehouse facilities, training facilities and staff recruitment among others.
‘We are currently looking to employ 30 staff members across East Africa, of which 25 will be located in Kenya and 5 others in the markets that we present. These staff members will majorly focus on sales, customer support and comprehensive training of our dealer network so that our customers can enjoy specialized service and fulfilling customer experience when they acquire our products.’ Marais explained.
The firm sees a lot of potential for growth in the East Africa Community including the DRC who joined the East African block recently. In Uganda and Tanzania, Stihl has importers. In Rwanda it has a dealer. The firm plans to have footprints in Ethiopia, Eritrea and Southern Sudan in due course.
‘We are very well known for our forestry products, but Sihl has also developed a huge range of agricultural products specifically aimed at the emerging market. Our focus in Est Africa will be to establish this product range throughout the region to bring mechanization to farmers that haven’t been able to afford it in the past.’ The MD further explained.
Mechanisation,’ he observes ‘is the key to food security, not just regionally but worldwide as well. The human population is growinbg worldwide, and there is a huge pressure on agricultural producers to grow more food in the limited space that is available to them. At Sihl, we believe that the mechanisation threshold should be lower than a farmer just buying a tractor and plogh. And, therefore, we have developed a range of products that bring mechanisation to farmers for less that $1000 (about Sh 100, 000).’
This, he adds, will help unlock East Africa’s agricultural potential.
This range of products specifically tailored for smallholder farmers includes tillers, mist blowers, sprayers and water pumps.
Stihl also offers to the market a variety of construction products that include concrete cutters and cut-off saws.
‘We have identified the huge and rapid expansion of infrastructure growth in Kenya and other countries around East Africa and we believe that our products can really support the sector to be more efficient. Infrastructural developments by East African governments are key to sustainable long-term economic growth.’ Mr Marais explains.
On forestry, the Stihl EA MD notes that Kenya has a 7.4 percent forest cover, below the 10 percent recommended average by the UN worldwide.
‘This has to be tackled and sustainable solutions found to grow the forest cover in Kenya. Sihtl might seem like a counterintuitive partner in this process, seeing that our products cut down trees, but our business is very much situated around sustainable forestry cultivation and harvesting. We are involved in many industries and many initiatives throughout Kenya that create sustainable forestry growth. And we believe that that is the future’
Sihtl East Africa Sales Manager John Wachira said over 20 dealers are already stocked and ready to sell products.
He tells customers to expect quality, durable products at a convenient location and accessible to them, and at an affordable price.
They should also expect parts for their machines, original parts for that matter. Additionally, they should also expect warranty and timely repairs of their faulty products as well as professional and competent service at the dealers,’ he continued.