The Silicon Review
Founded in 1985, Bidco Africa is East Africa’s leading manufacturer of Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG). The firm has grown over the years to become the market leader in the edible oils and fats categories in Kenya and the region, manufacturing hygiene and personal care products.
Headquartered in Thika, Kenya, Bidco Africa has been and continues to be seen as the trendsetter and innovator in merging technology with everyday products, be it in production or Sales and Distribution. The company most recently set foot in the Food and Beverages product categories with noodles, juices, water, carbonated soft drinks, and energy drinks.
Bidco Africa’s founders have been instrumental and passionately at the center of its growth and entrepreneurial journey. The company’s Founding Father, Mr. Bhimji Depar Shah, continues to inspire generations with his evergreen spirit of hard work, resilience, and vision that challenges all team members to explore their potential fully. His eldest son Tarun Shah steers the entire team spirit at Bidco with his hands-on involvement in the operations and supportive nature to ensure that all departments share the success of the organization. The Founder and Chairman, Vimal Shah, is a distinguished business leader who has made a positive and impactful difference on all fronts, both in the public and private sector. “Bidco Africa exists to serve the daily consumer needs and to enhance happy, healthy living by branding, transforming, and distributing the goodness of mother nature,” said Vimal Shah, Founder and Chairman of Bidco Africa.
In its journey of over 35 years, Bidco Africa met various challenges as would have been expected of a small local business with a titan vision of challenging the MNC’s head on. Bidco Africa, was able to overcome every hurdle due to its eagle-eyed focus and persistent approach towards its goal.
As Bidco continued to grow its basket of brands, it faced opportunities and challenges in different forms. Lag and delays in getting statutory approvals was one of the challenges Bidco tackled. These included challenges of standardization permits and fortification marks from various authority bodies. “We overcame this through advocacy for the industry and pushing for mutual collaboration that enabled us to carry out tests and analysis in external laboratories that were in turn used for approval purposes,” explained the Founder and Chairman of Bidco.
Lack of ideal infrastructures such as bespoke machinery and production input materials was another challenge that Bidco had to cope with. To achieve the desired quality of products being developed, Bidco often had the challenge of getting the right equipment and raw materials, which led the company to import these through a pool of recognized global suppliers. “We also saw an opportunity to develop local suppliers in the various segments value chain and have been successful in achieving this through creating local farmers, use of local suppliers of packaging materials and of some of the production raw materials.”
The need for differentiation was yet another challenge that Bidco encountered. Customers and consumers are dynamic and ever-evolving. The need for differentiation in a mostly commodity-led market has been at the forefront of all of Bidco’s product developments with the sole purpose of ensuring that they produce brands that are part of a happy, healthy living ecosystem. “We have imbibed innovation and technology to set our products apart from the rest in the market,” said Mr. Vimal Shah.
Infiltration of cheap import products into the market is a problem that continues to be a challenge in a liberalized market everywhere. Bidco Africa has always played a major role in pushing the envelope for stringent legislation, driving advocacy, and ensuring a conducive business environment for all.
“Today, Bidco Africa can proudly claim that 1 in every 4 houses in Kenya uses a Bidco Product. This is a true testament of how a small business can overcome challenges with focus, dedication, and the right strategy,” exclaimed Vimal Shah. “As we have grown over the years, we have never compromised our quality processes or integrity to capture the market.”
A People-Centered Organization
Bidco Africa’s team – right from the Chairman to those at the shop floor-level – are driven by the same passion and fire to want to make a difference where everyone stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the same responsibility of ensuring that the customer is put first.
To achieve this, Bidco has created a human capital-intensive environment. “We have deliberately invested in a philosophy of change management so that we are a people-centered organization. This way, we ensure that all our team members share the company beliefs and aspirations so that all the attitudes, values, and the processes at the workplace are seamless, with the least resistance to change,” said Mr. Shah.
Bidco Africa uses a startup mentality when it comes to its recruits. The company actively recruits individuals who have the hunger to address perspectives with a design thinking approach and who see the future to scale up through out-of-the-box thinking as if Bidco were their own company.
Africa continues to rise in different dimensions, and we see Bidco Africa playing an integral part in it. With the Africa Continental Free Trade in place and Bidco’s footprint in over 18 Countries in Africa, the company has a tremendous opportunity to serve 1.3 Billion consumers in Africa.
Born of a strong legacy and a rich heritage, Bidco maintains the focus on its goal of grabbing, growing, and sustaining the number one market share in African markets by 2030. “We seek to do this by enhancing the everyday experiences of our consumers and spreading the goodness of mother nature through products that enhance a happy and healthy living,” concluded Vimal Shah, Founder and Chairman of Bidco Africa. “There are multiple exciting things that will touch our stakeholders in a special way as we go about our growth and expansion.”
The Leader Upfront
Vimal Shah, Founder and Chairman
As the flag bearer and growth driver of the company, Vimal believes in the robust economic potential, entrepreneurship opportunities, gender balance and a circular economy, as the strong impetus that will move an Economic Africa forward.
Vimal Shah has served in several advisory capacities in both the public and the private sectors including being a member of the 3GF (Global Green Growth Fund) Advisory Board and the Tony Elumelu Foundation Advisory Board. Until April 2015, he was the Chairman of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance-the apex private sector body in Kenya, and is a former Chairman of the Kenya Association of Manufacturers and the East African Business Council.
Vimal was the 2012 recipient of the East African Entrepreneur of the Year award awarded by All Africa Business Leaders Awards (AABLA) in partnership with CNBC Africa and Forbes Africa. In recognition of his contribution to national development, Former President of Kenya Mwai Kibaki awarded him the ‘First Class: Chief of the Order of the Burning Spear’ (CBS) in December 2011-the highest national honor for a private citizen in Kenya.