TRANSITION SIGNALS AMBITIOUS STRATEGY AS START-UP PURSUES AFRICAN GROWTH
Nairobi, March 27, 2019…Fresh produce and fast-moving-consumer-goods aggregator Twiga Foods has announced a significant change in its leadership with the appointment of Peter Njonjo as its Chief Executive Officer.
Mr Njonjo, a Kenyan with vast experience spanning 21 years at The Coca-Cola Company, has been leading the multinational’s West and Central Africa business unit as President. He takes over from his co-founder Grant Brooke, a researcher who has spent over a decade studying East Africa’s informal markets. Mr Brooke will retain his executive role in the organization, working with Mr Njonjo to expand the start-up’s footprint into the rest of sub-Saharan Africa.
Launched in 2014 to address inefficiencies in Africa’s large, but highly-fragmented informal fruit and vegetable markets, Twiga Foods is a mobile-based, cashless, business-to-business (B2B) supply platform that links farmers with food vendors. The aggregator sources fruits and vegetables from some 17,000 farmers across 20 counties in Kenya and delivers directly to 2,500 vendors a day in Nairobi and its environs. Twiga also lists products from many of Kenya’s leading Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) brands, as it moves towards offering a one-stop-shop for urban kiosks, grocers, and mama mbogas.
Outgoing Twiga Foods CEO Grant Brooke said: “By aggregating thousands of retailers on a single platform, we’ve been able to increase efficiency in the food supply chain, offer farmers a certain market, reduce waste and lower food prices for end-consumers, scoring a major victory for food and nutrition security in Kenya. If my leadership was the period in which Twiga was proving a point that there’s a better way to build food safe and secure markets, Peter’s leadership will be about institutionalizing this way of doing business and scaling it. Peter’s experience in building efficient supply chains and last-mile distribution in over 33 African countries makes him uniquely suited to lead us.”
Mr Njonjo’s appointment, noted Mr Brooke, presents a first; with a senior executive in a Fortune 500 Company joining an African start-up, a “clear testament of the increasing capacity of venture capital in funding and solving significant problems and harnessing opportunities on the continent.”
Said Mr Njonjo: “This appointment is a great honour for me and Kenyan corporate leadership expertise. I look forward to scaling up our vision of more efficient food markets in Africa and improved food security for our people. Twiga Foods is living proof of the latent opportunity to drive agricultural transformation and investment for local consumption.”
Through the Twiga Foods platform, a vendor can order stock, and the firm – backed by a logistics infrastructure that includes trucks, refrigerated warehouses, depots and sales teams – is, by the next day, able to deliver a better, low-cost, quality product, compared to informal, broker-controlled markets.
The platform has several advantages for both parties: farmers have access to a fairly priced, transparent, mobile market-place with prompt M-PESA-based payments; while vendors can consistently source high quality, safe produce, which is conveniently delivered to their shop-step at no charge. Mining the data available on the platform, Twiga Foods has expanded its offering to FMCGs (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) and other value adds, making it one of East Africa’s largest distributors of farm produce and FMCG products. It is also working with regulators to pioneer domestic food safety standards, working on lowering rates for retailers to borrow working capital and providing funding and expertise for farmers to expand supply.
Mr Brooke has, in the past five years, led the growth of Twiga Foods into one of Africa’s most successful start-ups, a magnet for investor interest, awards and recognition. Over the years, the business has raised KSh3 billion to fund its expansion from tier-1 funds, including IFC Ventures, TLCom, Wamda Capital, DOB Equity, 1776 Ventures, Omidyar Networks, Blue Haven Initiative and the Adolf H. Lundin Foundation, among others. It was voted Most Promising Company of the Year at the 2018 Africa CEO Forum Awards in Abidjan, Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies 2018, and the Global Winner of the 1776 Challenge Cup. Under Mr. Brooke’s leadership Twiga has seen consistent 150% year-in-year-out growth.
Said Mr. Brooke, “Starting new ventures is really my skill-set and passion, while proficiently running institutions is Peter’s skill-set and passion. Twiga has an aggressive growth plan and this transition leverages on our respective expertise.”
Inefficiencies in the supply chain have been blamed for high food prices in African cities, where close to 90 percent of the supply comes from informal retail outlets. Kenyans spend 45 percent of their disposable incomes on food, compared to 14 percent for South Africans and 10 percent for citizens of most European countries.