On March 10, 2021, the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection announced that an estimated four million Kenyans live and work abroad.
A good number of them would confess that living abroad may not be as rosy as it seems. Among the challenges they face is that of adaptation, from the lifestyle, to the climate and the food.
Such was the plight of Lucy Kinyanjui, a social worker from Gatundu, who went to America as a student on attachment.
Speaking on Daring Abroad, she narrated how her desire to have Kenyan delicacies made her set up a business in Seattle, Washington.
She revealed that she decided to import indigenous foods from Kenya when she spotted a gap in the market that arose from an increased demand of certain foods by her fellows in America.
Kinyanjui sells dried vegetables and porridge, which is not only popular among Kenyans but other African immigrants as well.
"The most popular are the common amaranthas (dodo), African nightshade (managu) and cow pea leaves (kunde)," she stated.
Lucy admitted that she is forced to sell some of the perishable goods at a relatively higher price, owing to the cost implications of importation.
"I only bring them by air cargo. By the time it gets here it is very expensive because it has very short shelf life," the Lukinya International owner explained.
Her catalogue includes beverages such as juices and a local favourite concoction of water, ginger, lemon and honey, popularly known as dawa.
Kinyanjui expanded her business to include textile, artefacts, paintings and daily tools.
Her prominence attracted the attention of a number of local manufacturers, who partnered with her. She is currently the sole distributor of two major manufacturers in America.
The entrepreneur has also partnered with Kenyans locally to produce clothes, which she sells in her store, in the process creating employment.
"I have about six tailors who specifically do the work for me. They are in Nairobi," she disclosed.
Kinyanjui was feted with the 2021 African Achievement Award for service to community. She uses proceeds from her business to support vulnerable members of the society especially women and gives to charity.