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William Macharia: Kenyan Who Went To Rwanda As A Shoe Hawker Now Running Successful Fresh Produce Agribusiness Firm

William Macharia is the founder of Holland Greentech, a Rwanda-based company supplying agricultural produce across East Africa.

The farmer relocated to Rwanda in 2008 after the aftermath of the post-elections violence witnessed in Kenya.

In this article, WoK looks at Macharia’s journey, and how he managed to thrive in Rwanda despite starting as a shoe hawker.

Background

In an interview with Citizen TV, Macharia explained that he moved to Rwanda post the 2007/08 elections violence.

He studied at Nyeri High School and pursued a degree in Business Management and Marketing at the University of Nairobi.

He made the decision to move to another country after failing to secure an opportunity locally due to effects brought about by the skirmishes.

“I came to the country in 2010 by bus. Opportunities dried up at home after the 2007/2008 post-election violence so I decided to come here and give it a try,” Macharia said.

While relocating to Rwanda, Macharia travelled with secondhand shoes which he had bought at Kariokor market.

He hawked the shoes for a while before he secured a job with a Rwandese agri-business firm.

“When I got here I started hawking shoes that I had brought from Kariokor to earn a living. I then saw an advert for a job at an agribusiness company and I was employed,” he added.

While working with the company, he was among the staff who were conducting trainings and while at it, he caught the attention of an investor who offered to partner with him to start a company.

In 2016, Macharia and the investor partnered to start  Sunripes Farm to grow and export vegetables, a while later, Holland Greentech was founded to supply farm inputs to farmers across East Africa.

“These companies were born by identifying the market first and later on creating products that fit the market. We have provided jobs for 300 people,” he added.

Through his firm, Macharia grows habanero chillies, sweet peppers, English cucumbers, sweet melons and cherry tomatoes.

They also practice rotation farming on an open farm where they grow potatoes, cabbages and french beans.

Macharia’s company exports about 60 percent of the farm’s produce to Europe while the rest is sold to high end restaurants and retailers such as supermarkets in Rwanda.

“We ship out 500 kgs of sweet pepper, 800 kgs of tomatoes, 500 kgs of Habanero chillies and 2 tonnes of french beans for export per week

“We use greenhouses because they help us to keep our products safe from pests and meet international standards,” he noted.

Macharia also noted that farming has thrived in Rwanda due to the government’s support for farmers.

“Here the Government has taken up large blocks of land and supports farmers to farm. They provide fertiliser and other incentives. Also tree planting to keep the land green and fertile,” he explained.