Toilet paper is a common thing in Kenya’s households but were it not for a bold move by tycoon SK Macharia, majority of people would be using leaves and old newspapers after a long call.
The founder and chairman of Royal Media Services introduced the tissue paper in Kenya in late 1970s.
Back then on the rich and high-end hotels had toilet papers but after Macharia visited Europe he thought of investing in the production of the tissue paper, a move that changed not only Kenya but the East Africa.
Macharia was then financial controller for the Agriculture Development Corporation and in 1976 while touring Italy he saw a simple manufacturing of the tissue paper from waste papers.
According to the book “A Profile of Kenyan Entrepreneurs” by Wanjiru Waithaka and Evans Majeni, Macharia was mesmerised by the idea and he took a roll home.
He approached the Kenya Industrial Estates (KIE) to research it and have it produced in mass quantities but KIE declined to invest Sh3 million to start it.
He decided to invest but National Bank of Kenya (NBK) boss a Mr RS Atwood refused to give him a loan.
He got a loan of Sh7 million months later when Stanley Githunguri (former Kiambaa MP) became the NBK boss.
Macharia established Madhupaper in Nairobi’s industrial area and started producing ‘Rosy’ toilet paper that he supplied locally, to Uganda and Tanzania.
Rosy became a household brand in the region but in 1985 Madhupaper was placed under receivership by Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) over Sh50 million loan.
The move by KCB was however seen as harassment by the government then run by late President Daniel arap Moi who was not in so good terms with Macharia.
He lost the case and his company was sold by the KCB to Chandaria Industries Limited.