Arguably the world’s largest manufacturer and marketer of gum and a leader in the global confectionery business, Wrigley is a recognized leader in confectioneries with a wide range of products including gum, mints and hard and chew candies. The company is now set to partner with local women entrepreneurs in a bid to stamp its authority in the region as it empowers the SME sector as Joan Wambui writes.
Confectionery Company Wrigley East Africa will, going forward, enhance its partnership with women entrepreneurs to distribute its products as it seeks to empower them.
The countrywide program, dubbed ‘Maua’, is part of Wrigley East Africa’s contribution to spurring job creation in Kenya through creation of autonomous micro-entrepreneurs and micro-distributors. Further, it is part of the larger ‘Sustainable in a Generation plan’ launched by parent firm Mars Incorporated and one that seeks to make a positive difference in the world through the creation of shared benefits with partners and stakeholders.
The program is also aimed at expanding the geographical reach of Wrigley products to consumers by providing tools of trade such as backpacks, bicycles and motorbikes to the women.
Under Maua, women and youth from challenged economic backgrounds are trained on basic entrepreneurship skills including record keeping, branding, selling and business planning among others. Additionally, they get preferential rates for all Wrigley products to start their businesses.
In a speech read on her behalf by Barry Parkin, Chief Sustainability Officer at Mars Incorporated, during a forum organized to discuss issues around women empowerment and leadership, Victoria Mars, a board member and the immediate former Chairperson of Mars Incorporated, said that Maua is one of the innovative ways through which Wrigley is transforming the lives of hundreds of women from across the county.
“Maua our entrepreneurship program in Kenya, intentionally focuses on recruiting women who in turn are doing a fabulous job. Roughly 30% of those employed by the program are women; the top five who stock our products for sale within this program are primarily women; and they in turn support 7-16 other entrepreneurs. The direct and indirect impact of their success is tangible, transforming the lives of more than 700 entrepreneurs,” said Victoria, who was last week in the country on a four-day official visit.
The forum was organized in partnership with the American Chamber of Commerce Kenya (AmCham) and brought together leading corporate women, Non-Governmental Organizations, government as well as Diplomatic Corps. Also in attendance and on panel discussion were Ambassador Macharia Kamau, Principal Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ms. Flora Mutahi the chairperson of Kenya Association of Manufacturers.
“The main objectives of our work though this program is to provide women with a decent livelihood-to give them the freedom that income can provide. Because we know that women with income will, in turn, invest in nutrition, education and advancing their family well-being. By empowering them, there is a net benefit on the broader community,” concluded Victoria.
Wrigley works with institutions like Oxford University’s Said Business School and the University of Nairobi to measure the impact that Maua has on social capital. So far, findings show that it is positively impacting lives and enhancing the level of trust within the communities it runs.
Wrigley has been highlighted as an American company investing in Kenya and leading the way in instilling confidence in other investors to operate in Africa. Wrigley just concluded construction of a $70 million state-of-the-art factory in Athi River.
In East Africa, The Wrigley Co. Ltd is has its headquarters in Athi River, Kenya and has been operational since 1972 manufacturing much loved brands such as Big G, PK, Doublemint and Juicy Fruit and exporting products to a number of countries within the African continent.