Building Kenya’s Future, Today: Petoma Works Limited

Petoma Works Limited leverages its expertise and experience to fulfill infrastructure needs all across Kenya, though faces obstacles in financing the necessary resources.

Based in Nairobi, Kenya, Petoma Works Limited is a civil engineering firm literally working at building up the country. Previously, Petoma was involved with structures and infrastructures: schools, churches, warehouses, roads, and more. Lately, they have worked within the energy sector, and not just in the capital region; from Turkana in the northwest to Lamu in the southeast and most recently in Kakamega County, Petoma has done work all over the country since its inception in 2007.

Petoma’s strength is its keen understanding of the country’s infrastructure needs and its experience working alongside communities, builders, and fabricators all over Kenya. Petoma often faces a familiar obstacle, however: a general lack of financing resources and the long process many traditional lenders require SMEs to navigate. Recently, Petoma’s work building sub-stations for Kenya Power needed a cash outlay to cover the fabrication costs of the structures responsible for bringing power to thousands of people. Traditional financiers require collateral and have long wait times. Petoma didn’t have the luxury of either. In their own words, they were stuck.

Kountable was able to fund Petoma’s contracts quickly, bringing power to thousands of people.

A friend told Petoma’s Tony Mutemebei Ndungu about Kountable. Curious, Tony reached out. Within a day the ball was rolling, and a Kountable representative was en route to the Petoma offices. Within three weeks, in what Caroline Mukiri Kiambi refers to as a “blessing,” Petoma was fully funded. Its track record of success along with its contract and its local purchase order were more than enough to satisfy Kountable’s criteria. Thanks to this partnership, Petoma’s business and reputation flourished and thousands upon thousands of end consumers were quite literally empowered.

“We are a service-oriented company,” says Caroline Mukiri Kiambi, who is among Petoma’s directors as well as its chief administrator. “We supply end-to-end solutions to clients, meaning we can do design; we do design of buildings, design of roads, design of structures like warehouses, community-based projects like churches [and] schools. Our products are basically services; we offer services in the construction industry.”

Petoma’s contract with Kenya Power represented the eleven-year-old company’s biggest and most expensive foray into the energy sector. It wasn’t a risk, but it wasn’t a sure thing either. When a partnership with Kountable worked out for Petoma, not only were Tony and Caroline excited about the funding — they were also blown away by how easy Kountable was to work with. They discuss the experience in terms of its general ease and speed.

“Their [efficiency] is awesome,” says Caroline. “And their systems, their procedures — I think they are at another level which is not currently experienced in Kenya.”

Tony agrees. “We had projects whereby we approached banks, but due to the time-consuming approval process and the volume of documents required and a lot of background checks, we were not able to get finances because, again, it took a lot of time and so the project really lapsed.

“ Banks are not very keen on financing the projects,” he continues. “Kountable has really come in to help us in that. When they did our valuation we were approved and they were able to finance us on good time and they seriously came through for us.”

This newfound partnership between Petoma and Kountable has people on both sides of the table excited and ready to take on more challenges together. “It took us less than three weeks to get the financing” says Caroline. “That’s the reason we are here today — because now the project is running, we are no longer stuck.”

Better Options, Best Outcomes: Abon East Africa Wins Big

Abon East Africa serves thousands annually, supplying commercial laundry equipment.

Based in Nairobi, Kenya, Abon East Africa specializes in the supply and installation of commercial laundry equipment. Well-regarded by its local community, Abon works with large-scale businesses and organizations serving thousands of people annually, including major hospitals, hotels, and learning institutions. Abon provides training, regular equipment inspections, and maintenance to its clients, offering a comprehensive service which benefits its clients, its city, and its country.

Though Abon was experienced at fulfilling smaller contracts, their goal was to increase the scope and impact of their projects.
When an opportunity to supply the Kenyatta University Hospital with laundry equipment presented itself, Abon was selected by the hospital’s brain-trust to satisfy the contract. However, Abon lacked sufficient collateral to receive a loan to make the necessary procurements, and traditional lenders would not be an option due to Abon’s insufficient collateral. For a moment, the contract was even rescinded.

The same week the contract was almost lost, Abon was referred to Kountable, which analyzed the scope and viability of the project and came back with an answer within ten days. Because Kountable could be nimble with its turnaround, it defied both custom and expectation, and in the end, everyone came out a winner. Kenyatta University Hospital got its equipment; Abon East Africa satisfied its contract and better positioned itself for long-term success; and Kountable facilitated yet another entrepreneurial success story.

With Kountable, Abon was able to fulfill larger contracts without the collateral necessary to satisfy traditional lenders.

“This is one of our biggest projects we’ve done, ever,” says Joel Gachau, about his company’s estimable undertaking at Kenyatta University Hospital, a site Abon East Africa supplied with over $2,000,000 of equipment.

“Before, they’ve been $20,000, $50,000 — we could finance [them] with the collateral we had. But this one exceeded our limits.” Because the short- and long-term goals of his business required the fulfillment of larger and larger contracts, Mr. Gachau was somewhat stuck; he lacked the sufficient collateral to qualify for a loan to make the procurements to satisfy the contract.

The situation got so dire that the contract was actually rescinded for a moment — a massive and frustrating blow to a local supplier whose impact on the community cannot be understated; Abon was already servicing every hospital in the Nairobi area in some capacity, in so doing creating jobs and lessening the region’s dependence on foreign contractors. When Kountable was suggested as an alternative to traditional financing, Mr. Gachau pounced. He describes the experience as going from hopeless to hopeful.

“By the time we went to Kountable, we had reached the end,” he says, in regards to the financing that didn’t seem like it was going to come. “That was the final, the very, very final solution. And it worked. Our banks to some extent would have financed, but our collaterals were not enough, they were not adequate. But Kountable actually had better options; that’s how the project came to be.”

“Initially we used to shy away from projects up to a certain level,” says Mr. Gachau. “Now we have somebody to back us.”

In working with Kountable, Abon has been able to expand its operations and further serve its community. “The sky is the limit,” says Mr. Gachau. “Now I can negotiate any deal. I have no worries; I believe.”