Greenforest begins our European road show
Yesterday evening in Hamburg Oikocredit’s partner Greenforest, a leading Kenyan honey brand, began our annual road show, bringing our partner and investors together.
Mr Athanas Matheka, CEO of Greenforest Foods Limited (Greenforest) from Kenya, talked to Oikocredit investors about his company, beekeeping, nut production in Kenya and the importance of agriculture in Africa. Athanas emphasised the importance of impact investors like Oikocredit who understand agriculture and invest with both funding and capacity building.
Athanas is touring around Europe visiting Oikocredit support associations in Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and Spain. Our annual road show is one way in which Oikocredit enables its investors to be part of a movement for social change. Here investors, volunteers, members and support association staff have a chance to meet our partner, hear their story and ask the questions important to them.
Greenforest Foods Limited (Greenforest) supports smallholder famers and beekeepers, in the arid and conflict prone areas of Baringo and Elgeyo Marakwet counties, by providing them with much needed access to markets and stable prices. Greenforest is based in Nairobi and is now a strong honey and peanut brand. The company recently added natural beeswax to its product range and plans to expand production to include white sesame, macadamia and cashew nuts.
Greenforest’s origins go back to the late 1990's when the current directors were running a supermarket. They received many requests to buy good quality local honey, with most honey being imported from overseas. The local brands were of low quality and untrusted. And so, they sourced local honey and started selling it through their supermarket. This experiment was a success and Greenforest went on to supporting hundreds of smallholder producers.
The company's natural honey is sourced from the traditional honey producing areas such as Kitui, Makueni and Taita-Taveta where poverty levels range between 50 and 60%. However, Kenya's supply chain is not fully reliable, which means that most raw honey is still sourced from neighbouring Tanzania. The nuts are mainly sourced from Malawi.
Oikocredit decided to support Greenforest, not only because of its positive social impact on rural smallholder producers, but also due to its efforts to move away from purchasing its raw materials from outside Kenya and contribute to improving the lives of rural producers in Kenya where levels of poverty are high.
Oikocredit’s funding and capacity building
Greenforest has been an Oikocredit partner since 2014, and currently has a loan of KES 8.8 million (around EUR 77,000) which is being used to finance packaging equipment and working capital. Oikocredit’s investment gives the company more control over supply and enables it to establish closer relationships with local farmers and to provide them with technical assistance.
In the summer of 2015 Oikocredit contributed € 5,000 to enhance Greenforest’s marketing and branding of nut products. A second capacity building in 2016 was aimed at helping Greenforest source more honey from farmers in Kenya rather than Tanzania.
Overview of the road show events
• 8 October: Hamburg, Germany
• 9 October: Bonn, Germany
• 10 October: Utrecht, the Netherlands
• 11 October: Vienna, Austria
• 12 October: Salzburg, Austria
• 14 October: Munich, Germany
• 15 October: Leipzig, Germany
• 16 October: Frankfurt, Germany
• 17 October: Bilbao, Spain
Please see the relevant country’s support association website for more information on the road show events.