What we should know about you
Questions answered by Margaret Komen, CEO & Founder
1. What is your biggest success as an entrepreneur?
My greatest achievement is being able to successfully set up, nurture, and manage a social agri-business enterprise, which has been able to commercialize production of African leafy
vegetables in Kenya. Mace Foods Ltd is now considered the “traditional vegetable guru” in Kenya. In 2008, Mace Foods Ltd was able to export high quality African bird’s eye chili to the European Union. On the local market front, we have been able to set up direct linkages to our farmers and lock out brokers who mainly interfere with farm gate prices and reduce income levels for farmers. I am encouraged when I visit my farmers and find that something has changed in their lives. They have been able to put food on the table for their families through income earned from the business. These achievements have only been possible through my dedication and passion for the business since its inception.
2. What is your biggest learning as an entrepreneur so far?
I started the business because of my professional training and experience as a qualified food technologist. I assumed that, with this knowledge, it was enough to run the business because I knew how to process the products and I knew how to make unique products. After the first seven years of difficulties, I decided at age 37 to go back to class and learn business management. I learnt that in running a business I needed to learn more about how to manage finances, human resources, and sales & marketing. Although I spent time in class learning business management skills for one year, it was not enough to run the business. I realized that I needed to listen to my role models, learn from experienced people, network with people in similar professions, and understand how other leaders work and share experiences with successful entrepreneurs.
3. What drives you personally to keep your social business running?
I work with over 2,500 small-scale farmers in my community who supply raw materials to my factory. Together, with my team, we mobilize, recruit, and train farmers free of charge on production techniques and post-harvest handling of the raw materials. My employees and team members have also learnt to work with high efficiency, integrity, and reliability at all times. I have been able to lead by example through hard work, honesty, openness, and my free spirited nature. This working culture is not common in Kenya and I am happy to share this with all my staff. I hope to share my experiences with other leaders and hope to learn ways to improve.
I want to inspire other women, particularly from my community, because, until now, the role of women among my peers is being in the kitchen. I want to demonstrate that women can multi- task and do it very well. I want to uplift the lives of other women in the rural areas, so that they can see anything is possible if you are determined. As an entrepreneur, transferring skills and knowledge to those less fortunate is a great way to change their lives.
- Fairtrade certified company by World Fair Trade Organization
- Kenya Bureau of Standards, certified seed merchant by Kenya Plant Health
Inspectorate services and currently under-going inspection, training and audits
for HACCP SANS 10330 Food Safety certification
- Member of Kenya National Chamber of Commerce & Industry
- Member of Africa Agribusiness Academy
- Member of Invest in Africa
- Member of Kenya Association of Manufacturers