Over the years, Kenya has proven to be a country thriving with economic success. Numerous Kenyan companies started from the ground up have achieved massive success in the East African economy and even Africa as a whole. One such company is the Bidco Africa Ltd. Bidco is East Africa’s leading manufacturer of Fast Moving Consumer Goods. Started in 1985 and it has continuously grown over the years to be the home of some of East Africa’s most loved brands across the edible oils and fats, hygiene and personal care, and most recently food and beverage brands.

Bidco Africa has won over 30 awards and recognitions in the last thirty-two years and is an acknowledged leader in the East African Manufacturing sector. Bidco was the first company to establish a fully operational refinery in East Africa. It was established in 1970 as a garment manufacturer in Nyeri, Kenya. In 1985, the former chairman, Mr Bhimji Depar Shah and his two sons Vimal Shah and Tarun Shah saw a growing need in the African market for soap products. They relocated to Nairobi, and set up a soap manufacturing plant. Bidco only produced three soap products; Kuku, Sabasaba and White Star.

In 1991, Bidco set up a state of the art refinery in Thika. The growth and expansion continued by Bidco acquiring various brands from other companies such as Elianto from Unga Group in 1994 and Kimbo and Cowboy from Unilever in 2002. After a rocky start, overcoming challenges with distribution and marketing, Bidco managed to break into the market and became the success they are today.

In 2013, Bidco reported an annual turnover of more that USD 500 million. In the same year, Vimal Shah was ranked as the richest man in East Africa by Forbes with a net worth of USD 1.6 billion.

Here’s how you can achieve your own success:


Bidco was started by a family and believes that all employees and partners are a part of that family; the Bidco Family. They believe in Africa, which can be seen in their commitment to using local raw materials and making quality products that are affordable to all, regardless of their income. The company truly believes in their products, ensuring their quality and safety. They also work towards promoting a sustainable business practice with the elimination of waste, recycling and use of renewable energy.

In addition to this, Vimal Shah truly believes in being motivated by the desire to grow and improve the communities around him. He speaks against using money as a key motivator in his business and believes in empowering those around him to succeed.

“Money motivates you for a certain time, but when your basic needs are met it doesn’t motivate you anymore. My biggest inspiration today is to arouse the leader inside every other human being. I want them to know that they too can achieve their dreams. I was born here. I went to school here. Even for university I did not go to Harvard, I studied here. You too can do it.”

-Vimal Shah

If you’re looking to start a business venture, ensure that your business is in alignment with your personal goals, and vision. Let it be reflected in the way you interact with both your customers and employees. Of course when starting a business one of the main goals is to turn a profit and earn decent money however, this shouldn’t be your only motivator.


Bidco’s brands are designed to enhance the quality of daily life. Their purpose is to promote a Happy Healthy Living through spreading the goodness of mother-nature in all homes. The message is communicated via extensive advertising & media campaigns including strategically located billboards, promotions and special events. In addition to mainstream media and advertising, Bidco believes in being a Socially Responsible Corporation. This is the goal that informs the company’s focus on aiming at sustainability. This has been done through social investments in education, engagement with farmers and activities aimed at environmental conservation as well.  The company also works on a system aimed at producing zero waste.

Market your business. Let people know what you’re working on. Use the resources available to you such as social media, newspaper ads and if you can buy some airtime on local T.V and radio stations to promote your business.


When trying to build your business, you may come across sceptics and naysayers. Always have your goals in mind and focus on the big picture. “If you come with something new today they will give you 100 reasons why it won’t grow. That is why your own conviction is so important. Look at the best case scenario and the worst case scenario. Be persistent, never give up,”


Work with what you have and make the most out of your situation. Starting small allows you to learn the basics and teaches you how to manage your resources. You will also be able to lay down a strong foundation for when your business takes off and begins to grow. Starting small is necessary to build the required character traits to handle growth and success. There is truly no such thing as an overnight success. Most times, when we see someone take off and achieve massive success, it is because they have spent years behind the scenes refining their craft and building their business i.e. putting in their 10,000 hours. Shah’s advice is “start small, aim big and keep at it.”


Hire people that have the Same visions and goals as you in order to ensure that your company thrives. Hiring the right employees for your business is important no matter what kind of work you’re doing. Having quality employees will help your company run and grow. Vimal says; “The best thing about competency is that you can build it by employing people who have the skills to deliver what you need. And the concept of outsourcing manpower has made it easier to acquire competency in business.”

Also see:


Vimal Shah: How to become a successful entrepreneur

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