The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted the lives of many Kenyans living in the US, with some losing their jobs, sent on unpaid leave, or forced to shut businesses for those who are self-employed.
But for 28-year-old Moses Mbai, a Kenyan entrepreneur based in Dallas, Texas, the pandemic is a ‘blessing in disguise.’
In September 2018, Mbai launched 5th Generation Coffee, the first black-owned online coffee company in Texas.
Slightly over a year after he started his business, Covid-19 broke out in China and spread across the world, halting nearly all sectors of the economy in many countries including the US.
Despite hurting many businesses in the US and around the world, Mbai says the pandemic presented his company with a perfect opportunity to grow.
Mbai explains that the company registered increased orders during the pandemic, making record sales last month. The company recently launched a new product, coffee soap, which he discloses is selling fast.
"We just launched our Coffee Soaps which are handcrafted and naturally made with shea butter with organic essential oils on the site and during a pandemic, I kept the faith, and this has been the best month in business. I learned to stay focused and give consumers something that could benefit them at a time like this,” Mbai told a Kenyan news outlet.
"We are thankful for all our customers supporting our black-owned small business during this difficult time. We sold out this week. We're restocking our Coffee Soap later this week."
Mbai, a Texas Southern University Business Management graduate, sources his produce from his family’s 200-acre plus coffee farm in Kiambu, Kenya.
"We own a farm in Kiambu, Kenya I would see how hard my family worked on this coffee farm day in and day out. A year or two after graduating from college, I’m sitting a job I hate and realized I wanted more out of my life. I want to be my own boss. I’m tired of being controlled and told what to do in corporate America,” he said.
"As I was drinking coffee the idea hit me. Like a ton of bricks to sell coffee from my company here in the states. It had never been done before, so I decided to take a chance and here I am today."
"Our coffee farm is Grade A sustainable. Every order is roasted fresh before being mailed out," he added.
Mbai, who was named The Trailblazer of Dallas at AODI Influencer Ceremony in January, says a majority of his employees are African-Americans.
"…within this industry there is little to no diversity so that’s something unique about 5G Coffee. We are in a time where people want to support Black Owned Businesses and Small Businesses so that strategy of identifying who we are and really have our customers follow our journey as we grow sets us apart from well-known brands."
"One thing I've had to fight is that Black-owned businesses don’t value customer service. I pride myself on listening to the customer. Apologizing and fixing issues. Customer service is everything to me and my company," he stated.