By Prudence Minayo
Melvin Tea is one of the biggest tea brands in Kenya. In fact, it was the first tea company in the country to produce flavored tea. Few Kenyans know the face behind the company. Flora Mutahi is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and founder of Melvin Marsh International, the company behind the Melvin’s Tea brand.
She attended primary and secondary schools in Kenya and later on joined the United States International University (USIU) for a BSc in Accounting and Finance. Later, she attended the University of Cape Town in South Africa for an Executive MBA. She is also a certified public accountant with the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya.
Flora is married and a mother of three children.
Her entrepreneurial spirit was sparked when she worked as an auditor and attended classes at Strathmore Business School. One of her colleagues noticed she lacked motivation during her professional accounting classes and challenged her to be true to herself and identify her purpose. In a span of two days, she resigned from her job and quit her classes to try and find out what she wanted from life.
Having parents who were seasoned entrepreneurs really helped as they encouraged her to move out of her comfort zone.
During the beginning of her career, she borrowed money from her mum to qualify for a bank loan. The first thing she did was start a salt manufacturing business. Then, she saw a gap in the tea market industry. There were no flavoured teas. And that’s how she started focusing on tea beginning with the ginger flavored tea. After witnessing the success of this flavor, they went on to create other delectable flavours as well. This makes them the pioneers of flavored tea in the country.
The tea is is founded on the following core principles:
- Passion in our creative nature for passion and excellence results
- Integrity at the heart of everything we do and building lasting relationships with our clients
- Commitment to our company. We are our own champions and we strive to create sustainable, long term relationships not just because it’s a smart financial practice, but because it’s the right thing to do.
- Nimble with evolving technological advancements, demographic changes and increasing customer’s expectations
- Innovative with our ideas, concepts and processes essential to the continued success of the business
- Community with the people, their interactions and relationships that we form, because above all else, people and not things are what matters most.
Marsh International was founded in 1995 and she has been the Chief Executive Officer ever since. Another thing she focused her attention on was rice processing and marketing.
In 2016, she was appointed the chairperson of the Kenya Association of Manufacturing, making her the first woman in Kenya to be assigned this role.
In 2017, she was elected vice chairperson of the business council of the Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).
In 2018, the seasoned entrepreneur was appointed to the board of the United Nations Global compact by the UN secretary General Antonio Gutteres. She will use this platform to support responsible business practices in Kenya and the continent. This move made her step down as chairperson of the Kenya Association of Manufacturers.
The successful businesswoman is also a member of the board of directors of Seeds Hope, a Kenyan non-profit organization striving to improve the living conditions of slum dwellers in Kibera.
Tea House In Lavington
In 2015, the Melvin CEO opened a one of a kind tea house in Lavington known as Melvin’s Tea House.