Rivatex lists successes in 15 years since revival

Modernisation cost Sh6bn, firm working under-capacity for lack of cotton

In Summary

• CEO Thomas Kipkurgat calls company a major contributor to the Big 4, notably manufacturing,

• Rivatex employs more than 1,200 workers directly and another 10,000 people indirectly through the cotton industry

Workers in the knitting section at Rivatex
RIVATEX: Workers in the knitting section at Rivatex

Rivatex East Africa Limited has listed some key achievements since it was revived through government and donor support of Sh6 billion.

The Eldoret-based textile firm also denied claims it was facing a financial crisis, though it admits it's short of cotton and operates under-capacity.

CEO Prof Thomas Kipkurgat said the company is a major contributor to the manufacturing pillar under President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big 4 agenda.

“We are on course to achieve even greater milestones and we are grateful for the support from the government and the President himself," Kipkurgat told the Star.

He said Kenyatta had personally driven the 'buy Kenya sell Kenya', pushing it to expand markets locally and abroad.

Prof Kipkurgat said expansion and modernisation is at 95 per cent with only a few machines yet to be installed.

Rivatex is a vertically integrated textile mill that converts lint into yarn. Since its inception, the facility has become one of Africa's largest textile manufacturing firms.

Following its collapse, the company was bought by Moi University and relaunched in 2007 by the President Mwai Kibaki.

Initially, the plant used old and outdated equipment and was not able to compete with other textile firms worldwide to realise high returns.

Modernisation increased efficiency and production.

Kipkurgat said Rivatex employs more than 1,200 workers directly and another 10,000 people indirectly through the cotton industry.

Production is more than 40,000 metres, compared with an initial 400 metres.

The company has expanded its spinning, chemical store, and finished goods departments.

The firm is rated as having the largest integrated (from fiber to finished product) textile mill in the region with 16,800 spindles.

Its products in the market include suiting material, khanga, bed sheets, overalls, curtains, camouflage, gowns, school uniforms and hospital linen, among many other products.

Kipkurgat said the firm has been reaching out to farmers who used to grow cash crops.

Twenty-two counties are aware of the company's cotton programmes. Rivatex have been giving incentives and inputs to farmers, including seeds and pesticides.

They are being encouraged to plant more cotton.

The counties include Busia, Siaya, Migori, Kisumu, Bungoma, Kericho, West Pokot, Elgeyo Marakwet, Baringo, Kirinyaga, Embu, Meru, Kitui, Makueni, Machakos, Isiolo, Tharaka Nithi, Tana River, Kilifi, Lamu and Kwale.

“For us to have sustainable growth and profitability, we must have a reliable source of raw materials. We initiated backward integration through pilot projects within communities that are our major source of cotton," Kipkurgat said.

The company has a training school that equips the factory and institutions with skills in textiles.

The CEO said Rivatex is a keyin the promotion of local apparel and manufacturing. It supplies products to small cottage industries and SMEs.

 The company relies on seven pillars in the value chain including training, research and extension services, product development, international linkages, market for products and corporate social responsibility.

The CEO said Rivatex produces fabric and stitches uniforms for the Kenya Police, Kenya Wildlife Service, General Service Unit, Kenya Defence Forces, the National Youth Service and other disciplined forces.

It supplies bed sheets to Kemsa, Nairobi Hospital, county hospital and other institutions.

The company aims to export finished products to international markets.

(Edited by V. Graham)

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