Margaret Komen and her team are changing Kenya one farmer at a time.
The Founder and CEO of Mace Foods has been on a 20-year entrepreneurial journey ever since attending a trade show in Germany in 2003 where she discovered there was an opportunity in chillies. You can read more of her featured story from our 2021 Annual Report. Click Here >>>
The result? With Komen’s leadership, determination, and training, Mace Foods is currently the leading chilli processor in Kenya and the market leader in Europe of premium grade African Birdseye chillies.
One of the important steps along her path to success happened during the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses in Kenya and all over the world were struggling. Through the Kenya Catalytic Jobs Fund, Komen heard about the Sinapis Entrepreneur Academy, a course she then took online. That led to her joining the Sinapis Ascent Program, which she will complete in the coming weeks.
It was a turning point for Mace Foods.
“What Ascent brought was the opportunity to think together as a leadership team. To visualize together. To disrupt our business model,” she observed, “which was I think one of the best things that ever happened to me. It felt like I was no longer alone.”
As Mace Foods grew, the need for more and more farmers to grow chilli varieties as well as different types of leafy vegetables, did as well.
“Twenty years ago I would never have imagined having over 2500 farmers,” she says of her current number of suppliers, noting that many farmers grow only maize for subsistence. Often, says Komen, “there is no crop that is giving them cash.” Mace Foods is changing that. Cash crop incomes go toward such needs as school fees for children.
What advice would she offer entrepreneurs who may be struggling and even about to give up?
“You have to stop thinking of the problem and start thinking of the immediate solution.” It’s a fitting answer from someone who has started from the bottom up and emerged as an industry leader to the benefit of thousands now partnering with her.