Rosemary Muita, the Managing Director at Great Global Traders (Left), and Lucy Maingi, the SME engagement Manager at Invest in Africa (IIA) – Kenya, during a visit at the avocado pack house.
May 05, 2021

BIASHARA.NOW SME SPOTLIGHT: GREAT GLOBAL TRADERS

More than most things, avocados symbolise middle-class millennials in the global north. Their journey from seedling to fruit, and a trip thousands of kilometres away represents a growing industry and opportunities further afield, in the developing world.

Great Global Traders, a Kenya-based start-up is an emerging member of this multi-billion-dollar industry, established to empower marginalised members of the community. Focused on uplifting women and youth, Rosemary Muita’s business has in the region of 800 professionally trained smallholder farmers across four counties, with expansion to eastern Africa in her sights.

Entirely locally owned and operated, armed with an export licence for high-quality domestic produce, and integration into the agri-processing value chain, Rosemary’s business and vision show us what an AfCFTA-enabled future could look like.

Even when she first started with a handful of female farmers in a co-operative, she dreamed big, “If you think small, you stay small,” she explained. By training them in agricultural best practices and advocating for organic growing methods, her network of farmers expanded.

This helped her envisage a 10-year plan, prioritising export of avocados, developing a nuclear farm for the fruit and having her own processing plant. By putting her vision on paper, she is able to take each step of her business journey with the purpose of progress.

By appointing a commercial coach, Invest in Africa helped her distil her thoughts into a decade-long plan, introduce digital marketing tools and formalise her business, developing a structure and hierarchy, allowing her to expand methodically. Starting the business with the objective of breaking cultural barriers placed on women preventing them from attaining financial independence, she remains committed to that goal.

Rosemary has experienced this first-hand herself. By not having assets to collateralise loans, she gets turned away from banks. “In Kenya women are not granted land rights, and the like, making it almost impossible to get funding. I have enquired with local banks but also some abroad and always the same story,” she lamented.

Such impediments hold back many women, lower their threshold of professional accomplishment, and deter ambition. Invest in Africa’s commitment to building inclusive economies are to break precisely these kinds of barriers. Rosemary is determined not to fall victim to this despite opportunities for growth being affected as a result.

Just as Great Global Traders were preparing for export opportunities into America, Europe and the Middle East, the pandemic struck, interrupting an important growth phase and crucial revenue streams. Unable to pay the farmers, and searching for revenue, Rosemary is powering on.