The Village Nut Company: A Thriving Macadamia Processor Attracts New Talent in Kenya
Like many of Root Capital’s clients, The Village Nut Company operates on razor-thin margins. Credit is essential for the enterprise to be able to purchase macadamia nuts at a fair price and pay farmers on time. When we made our first loan to Village Nut in 2015—$450,000 in trade credit—the business was working with 6,000 producers and earning $1 million in sales per year. Flash forward two years: the number of farmers supplying the enterprise has doubled to 12,000, while annual sales have increased more than twofold to $2.5 million.
Mary Muhara, who co-founded The Village Nut Company alongside her siblings, knows that the enterprise’s success is about more than just revenue.
“Root Capital is one of the best partnerships a business could have,” she says. “I can’t imagine what that would have been like if it was just someone who required you to sign for the money and whatever you do with it is up to you. I think their hearts and our hearts are the same. They just make us a good partner.”
In addition to supporting farmer livelihoods, The Village Nut Company employs nearly 100 individuals, particularly young people. In many rural communities, youth struggle to envision a viable career in agriculture. As a result, many migrate to urban areas at home and abroad, depriving rural enterprises of the talent every business needs in order to grow. With help from Root Capital’s Advisory Services team, Village Nut Company is implementing training programs, as well as incentives to attract and retain qualified personnel. Top managers at the company have cited major improvements in employee performance as a result of this capacity building. These young employees are part of the next generation of agricultural business leaders, and will help ensure the enterprise’s viability over the long-term.
Looking forward, Village Nut Company plans to leverage its increased revenue to expand its warehouse and add drying and sorting equipment. These business investments will both enhance production capacity and open up new employment opportunities for local youth. “Macadamia is still very much an untapped crop,” says Maina Muhara, general manager of The Village Nut Company. “We are just starting.”