Jane Maigua, Kenya’s macadamia nut agri-processing pioneer — Lionesses of Africa

Lioness Weekender spoke to founder, Jane Maigua, to understand more about her entrepreneurial journey, and what drives her to make a difference both in terms of the environment and to job creation for women and youth.

What does your company do?

We source macadamia nuts in shells from thousands of smallholder farmers, processing and exporting raw macadamia kernels into international markets through a B2B model.

What inspired you to start your company?

The struggles that I saw with farmers not getting value for their crop as middlemen exploited them through very own pricing. My parents were peasant farmers facing such struggles as well. I was also aspired to run an export business that would also create opportunities for many people, and to inspire other women to run corporate businesses.

Why should anyone use your service or product?

High production standards under high level and stringent food safety systems. We have FSSC 22000 Certification, ISO 9001 certification and Kosher certification all of which enable us to assure our customer of high quality and safe food product from Exotic. We have a high customer orientation, and to achieve this we ensure that our staff operate in an environment and culture that fosters respect, teamwork, diligence, integrity, innovation, and high quality standards.

Tell us a little about your team

Our team comprises of 29 full time workers and 68 temporary workers. 
The management team comprises of a dynamic and talented team of 8, five being women. They all are highly qualified and experienced in their respective roles and are always highly motivated to deliver our customer promise. We do have a lot of fun working together and have several social activities such as team building events, celebration of everyone’s birthday, graduations, baby showers etc. as the case maybe.

Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And do you come from an entrepreneurial background?

My mother was a peasant farmer and ran a few Agri based businesses while my father was a bus driver. I saw them struggle with the farm activities but at the same time educated my two siblings and I from the same.  I aspired to be an astute entrepreneur at one time in my life but like everyone else I had to go through education and the eminent path. I ended up in entrepreneurship development sector working with national and international NGOs as well as the UN on projects that supported Small and Medium Enterprises to start and grow their businesses. From this I gained a lot of knowledge and motivation to still pursue my dream of starting a business. 25 years into my career I resigned from the UN to start the Agro processing and export of nuts, which I have done with my partners for the last four years. It is challenging and exciting at the same time.

What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?

Future plans are to expand our operations to include macadamia oils and other specialty oils such as sesame, moringa and baobab. We also plan to get into roasted nuts which we can supply domestic markets as well as the wider African market. We also hope to build our own factory that will scale up our production form the 2,500MT nuts in shell we currently are processing annually to 5,000MT annually.

What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?

Having satisfied customers with our nuts and on the other hand seeing women and men having a consistent source of decent income at the factory and value chain, including our small scale farmers and suppliers.

What’s the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?

You can go as high as you dream or even higher, so set your ambitions high. Seek to overcome the societal or cultural perceptions as well as self-limitation and go for gold! It is possible to excel as a woman. Put in the work and enjoy the results.

To learn more about Jane’s entrepreneurial journey and her business, Exotic EPZ, contact her via email: jane@exoticepz.co.ke and visit the company’s website and social media platforms:


Source link

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *