From the blog

Sally Sawaya: managing the Fair Trade Kenya-Italy

Her name is Sally Sawaya  and she is a woman entrepreneur from Kenya, who attended the 5th edition of the MBA in Nairobi at Tangaza University College. She is Logistic Manager of Meru Herbs Kenya, a for-social-benefit- for profit-enterprise that processes and exports high quality organically certified herbal teas & jams under Fair Trade principles, with an aim of achieving a sustainable livelihood for their farmers.

“Our Strategic location on the rich volcanic soils of Mt. Kenya has allowed us to capture the unique identity, vitality and taste into an exquisite line of organic herbal teas and tropical fruit jams” she said “Currently we are exporting to Fair Trade Organizations in Europe, United Kingdom and Japan. We have a total of 285 organically certified farmers group out of a potential 430 and in 2016 we produced 132,000 Kg of hibiscus tea“.

1.How was the Business born?

Meru Herbs was started in 1991 by the Project Coordinator Andrew Botta, in Italy there is an ONLUS supporting the Kenyan enterprise: Meru Herbs Italy. The idea was born out of a burning need to improve the quality of life for our farmers and their family. Meru Herbs aims to provide sustainable livelihoods for its members based on Fair Trade Principles. I was intern at Meru Herbs Kenya during my bachelor studies, and I fell in love with the business model.

2.How can Meru Herbs Kenya improve the life of the beneficiaries of its activities?

First of all, it improves the quality of life and standard of living of our farmers and employees in the semi arid area of Tharaka Nithi. Secondly, our profits are re-invested to finance development projects within the local community (such as education and other social amenities) or to improve the organization further. We also empower women by providing them a source of income and investment opportunities (most of our employees are women).

3.What has been the main challenge you had to overcome in your entrepreneurial experience? 

The most difficult entrepreneurial challenge that I am still experiencing is transitioning Meru Herbs from solely social enterprise to a Business Enterprise. The challenge is in balancing the two.

“We have a total of 285 organically certified farmers group out of a potential 430″

4. In your opinion, what are the main qualities an entrepreneur should have?

  • Must be innovative
  • Must be visionary
  • Must be Ethical

5.Is there a person you are inspired by, i.e. an entrepreneur or a particular mentor?

My mentor is for sure Andrew Botta, the founder of Meru Herbs Kenya, a great man!

6.What would you suggest to a new-born entrepreneur?

A new entrepreneur must always have a thirst for innovation. This innovation should be able to bring about social change and impact on the society. She/he must have a vision and a fire in the belly to want to achieve your goals.

7.Could you tell us a particular satisfactory moment you had in your entrepreneurial activity?

Yes, it was in 2015 when we were able to bring on board three new strategic partners. This reflected in a great increase in sales in 2016.

8.Could you tell us how E4Impact MBA has helped your career?

E4Impact MBA has a credible track record and its presence in 6 African Countries is an extremely important fact for me, as regional Entrepreneur, because diversifying my business does not  mean that I lose out. It allows with the necessary arrangements for access and continuity of the program.

This program so far is the best and most favourable program for start-ups and on-going businesses. It allows applying the knowledge imparted in practical setting which is our start-ups and on-going businesses. A full time program would not allow for this and would be a challenge for most of us. The long weekends , virtual learning, reading materials and boot camp is realistic and very practical for us. Evaluations and meetings with our Business coaches also allow for continuous feedback and interaction of our Business Models and Business Plans which are key tools in the success of our Businesses.

We have access to well-equipped libraries’ with relevant books, reading material and journals. Lecturers freely give their email addresses and phone numbers for reach if we need clarifications or further assistance. Furthermore, great exposure to the corporate world is assured by the quality of potential investors and successful entrepreneurs’ we get to listen and learn from and the possibility to live new exciting experiences, for instance the rare opportunity to participate in the First Ever Kenyan Pavilion in the Global Start up Expo – a virtual Expo In Italy.


Learn more on Meru Herbs

www.meruherbs.com / www.meruherbs.it

 Facebook page: Meru Herbs

Twitter account: @MeruHerbsItalia

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