The royal blue walls of Doinyo Lessos Creameries, with the words “MILK” splashed in giant, white glistening letters rises up to meet visitors. In stark contrast to the muddy brown streaked walls of the neighborhood, the newly painted compound feels fresh, clean and orderly.
Doinyo Lessos Creameries is in Eldoret, Kenya, the heart of dairy country in the western Rift Valley. Billing itself as the ‘Kenya’s oldest creamery’, the company collects milk from local farmers to produce cheese, ice cream, yogurt and fresh/tinned milk and ghee. Inside, we find the co-owners, Rosemary and Brian Cuthbert, finishing up their morning meetings.
When Brian and Rosemary took over management in 2011, they knew they would need to standardize their practices in order to grow. In 2013, a local government contact introduced them to Partners in Food Solutions (PFS). Together, they focused on projects around strategic planning, improving their financial management systems and enhancing their quality assurance policies and processes.
At first, it was challenging to right-size the solutions. “Everyone we’ve worked with knows their stuff,” explained Bryan, “But there was a gap between what they wanted and what we could do.” In the end, they focused on breaking down issues into discreet steps that could be implemented as resources became available. Doinyo was already on their way to hiring a quality assurance manager, but the volunteer recommendations spurred them into action.
After making sure each one of us donned a white lab coat, covered our hair and removed our jewelry, Esther Kerigo, the quality assurance manager, proudly showed us around processing facility. Standard operating procedures for health and hygiene were clearly posted; boot baths are installed outside each processing area and toilet facilities had just been upgraded. The storage warehouse, she admits, still needed a bit of help, but all staff had been trained in good manufacturing practices, so it was only a matter of time before it was tackled.
These investments have paid off. In 2015, an independent auditor found significant improvements in the hygiene status of the factory, moving from 48% (unsatisfactory) to 75% (pass). More importantly, the rejection rate of their products by grocery outlets dropped from 15% to less than 1%, tightening up their revenue stream. “What we did [with PFS] was a catalyst,” explains Bryan, “It affected our quality in a big way.”
Watch a video profile of Doinyo Lessos HERE.