Investing Wisely: Giving a new reputation to hospital food

I was visiting a friend in a private hospital and could not help but notice the food. Granted, the menu is definitely better than what you will find in government hospitals. The patients are given menu lists for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. From the menu they choose what they want to eat and so it is served. However, the complaints I heard, left me wondering about our hospitals in Africa.

A successful business idea requires you to think outside the box not out of the world. You need to make sure that it serves your targeted clientèle and they are willing to pay anything for it. When bottled water was first introduced in Kenya, most people thought the idea would fall flat on its face. Today, it is a multi-million industry. A close look at most successful businesspeople will reveal that they don’t sit in the boardroom or at the business table to generate the ideas. They get the ideas as they take the place of the consumer or recipient of the service; sometimes, it may not be about a new thing, it could simply be about taking over the existing and making it better. Let us consider running a section of an important business that is outsourced to you.

To guide you to this investment idea, consider the following:

  • Do you have excellent catering skills?
  • Do you love cooking?
  • Does it give you pleasure to see people enjoy the food you make?
  • Do you have management skills, or would you rather cook and leave daily management to someone else?

The reason for establishing a hospital with in-patient care is to treat and nurse people back to good health with medical technology and knowledge at arm’s length. The two reasons a hospital sets up a kitchen are to ensure its patients (i) are not starved while in their care, and (ii) have a meal that will facilitate the workings of the administered drugs.

So as a budding entrepreneur, why not sell the idea to a private hospital to outsource its kitchen, to you, a professional in catering services? After all, the kitchen is a support and not core function of the hospital

What would you need?

Know the hospital you are approaching

  • Where is it located – can your intended suppliers get to you with ease, do your intended staff have easy access to the place (e.g. if they will be leaving and reporting to work at odd hours)
  • What is its status – private, public
  • Its client base – the very wealthy, middle income earners, the poor who can barely afford a meal
  • What is its management like – will they allow you a free hand, will they stress you with dictatorial rules of operation

Understand the modalities of operation

  • When do patients require their food served?
  • At whose cost will you be operating? Will you settle for giving the hospital a monthly invoice? Will they allow you to also run a visitors’ and nurses’ cafeteria?
  • What is the source of your income?
  • Is it going to be a 24hrs service in consideration of the emergency room?

Understand your basis of operation

  • Will you be the sole driver of this business?
  • Do you and your staff have the training required?
  • Are you well versed with the nutritional needs of patients suffering all manner of ailments and conditions?
  • Are you well versed with the licenses and authorization required to operate such an entity?
  • What is your capital source?
  • What is the reasoning behind your taking over a kitchen hospital as opposed to you running a restaurant independently?
  • What will keep you going even when business is not so good?

A vision of the future

If you choose to do this, you are going into a field that is possibly unexplored by many. Chances are that you will not even have a model business to refer to for ideas. But assuming you still do it and have resounding success with the first hospital:

  1. will you approach other hospitals to embrace the same concept?
  2. do you have the manpower to sustain the high-quality standards with increased business?

Would you be willing to diversify to start your own restaurant chain?

What every business needs to succeed

  • A mission, vision, and passion
  • A culture
  • Capital – financial and human resource
  • A working plan
  • Hours of research and planning, boardroom meetings, networking, presentations
  • Support – from family, divine intervention (prayer)
  • Knowledge of the basic concepts

Special Note: Publishers Disclaimer: The publisher is not engaged in the business of rendering financial, legal or other professional advice. If such advice and or information is required in relation to the investment idea highlighted herein, the services of professionals should be sought. No responsibility for loss occasioned by any person acting or refraining from acting as a result of material in this publication can be accepted.

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Wangari Maina

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