Balminder Singh Sochi made his entry into the Kenyan market by venturing into the lucrative engineering industry. He ran the Kisumu Engineering Works Limited which served most sugar mills and machinery in Nyanza and Western regions.
The tycoon also ran a garage for reconditioning motor vehicles engines in the Western region, a successful venture that attracted clients from across the country.
But his empire started crumbling after the sugar industry faced a financial crisis. Incessant and delayed payments from sugar companies forced him to shut down his firm, but the garage remained open.
Sochi’s garage business also did not flourish following the entry of the Japanese who specialised in the used engines market, leaving his business with no customers to serve.
The depressed Indian tycoon took to social media, auctioning his two multi-million empires. But that did not mark the end of his story in Kenya, he reinvented himself through a different venture.
Sochi received advise from one of his allies to venture into chili farming, a lucrative business that has since catapulted him to his days of glory.
â€œA friend of mine in the United Kingdom learnt from the social media that I had put my machinery on sale and called me. He asked me to use the proceeds to produce green chili and export it to him in the UK,â€ he stated during an interview.
Sochi took online classes and carried out extensive research to gain enough knowledge to start his chili farming business. To start off, he bought a 10-acre piece of land at Nyabeda village of Gem sub-county in Siaya where he planted four acres of green chili (Demon F1) in June 2021.
â€œActually, the crop is fast maturing and easy to manage especially when there are no pests or disease attacks,â€ he stated.
He acquired support from Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) and this saw his crop mature in just two and a half months after planting.
From an acre, Sochi made a harvest of between 500 – 600kgs and a total average weekly production of 1,500 kilos.
â€œGreen chili has a huge market in Europe because of the rising number of Indian hotels and restaurants there,â€ he stated.
“Export market pays well. Furthermore, you cannot sell 1,200 to 1,500 kgs every week locally because the demand is not there.”
With the introduction of direct flights from Kisumu, Sochi has found a solution of exporting chili abroad. Initially, he would first transport the products to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi before processing them for export.
â€œI have paid through the nose to export the chilies from Kisumu to the UK. Managing the quality and temperatures from the farm and the road to JKIA is not a cheap venture.”