Taste of Kenya aims to make a real impact on the coffee farming community by simplifying the coffee supply chain, with social responsibility at the core of what we do.
Name: Taste of Kenya
Location: London, UK
Product / Service Offering: Shortened Supply Chain for Coffee Farmers
Co-founder Interviewed: Zipporah Gatiti
Other Key Management Team Members: Margaret Gatiti
This article is part of our Women Entrepreneurs Spotlight Series featuring female entrepreneurs and their companies. We hope these founders’ interviews will inspire and motivate you as you undertake your own entrepreneurial journey
Tell us a little about yourself with a focus on what motivates you.
I am a strong believer in social responsibility. I believe in initiatives that are used to address issues affecting society and demonstrate how business can have a positive impact on the local community. Taste of Kenya is a for profit business with social responsibility at the core of what we do. What motivates us is the knowledge that we are having a real impact and making a difference to the farmers and their families.
When did you establish your company and where did the idea originate?
I established Taste of Kenya after a trip to Kenya. During this visit, I noticed that grandmother was cutting down her coffee crops and planting other crops like bananas. She did this because she was getting paid low margins for coffee. There was a waiting period of between two to six months as well for payment.
What need or needs does your company seek to fill for its customers?
What is the one thing that sets your company apart from its competitors?
Taste of Kenya is different than other coffee companies because our coffee is bought directly from farmers. It is combined and sold as a lot. We buy the coffee directly from the farmers and are able to guarantee quality.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while getting your company up and running, and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge we have faced was setting up the right team to execute the company vision. We are fortunate since the family is in the company management in the main company roles.
Are there resources you have utilized that other founders might find compelling or useful?
Being part of a group of other startup founders have been really useful for me. In London, I was part of the Startup Leadership Program for founders in 2016. I am still in contact with the startup founder. This has been an amazingly supportive group. I highly encourage other founders to have a group of founders that they interact with regularly.
What steps have you taken to secure funding for your company and what, if anything, would you do differently if you had to start over?
The company was bootstrapped initially while we validated the model. We also successfully raised some equity free cash grants. We are currently fundraising and this takes a lot longer than expected. If I could do something differently, I would start raising funds sooner than required.
Have there been any questions you have had as an entrepreneur of a fledgling startup that you had a particularly hard time finding the answers to?
I think valuation is always a challenge for any startup especially at early stages and there are a number of valuation models to reference. In addition traction, early stage revenue and team setup can also impact valuation so there are a number of factors to consider.
What challenges, if any, are you grappling with?
Our biggest challenge is managing the cash flow. We pay a down-payment to the farmers for the coffee, but only receive payment once the coffee is delivered in Europe. In the meantime, we need to cover the cost of operations.
What is the most helpful tip or “hack” you’ve ever learned, stumbled across, or been given?
The tip that still rings true is to know “why”. This is what will make the startup focused and successful.
Is there anything else you would like to share about your company?
Taste of Kenya is mission-driven. We will make a real impact in the lives of coffee farmers everywhere.
It keeps me going to think that one day my grandmother visits a coffee shop in Europe stocking her coffee. She will see people enjoying the coffee she has worked so hard to grow and produce.
Are you familiar with other Women-led startups? If so, we would like to hear from you. Tell us about them in the comments below!