Creating an ornamental product out of natural flora and use it for export purposes. This what Tom Finlay and Waiyaki Ngugi are doing for about 6 months now, when they established their company Two Chiefs Trading. They gather African papyrus and cut cattails from the wild in a sustainable manner and have already exported the first boxes to Japan and the US. "The reactions so far are positive and the demand is steadily increasing", says Waiyaki Ngugi.
Paul Ndungu and Waiyaki Ngugi at the IFTEX in Nairobi, Kenya.
How it started
It all started last year, when Waiyaki Ngugi and Tom Finlay met at the IFTEX 2018 in Nairobi, Kenya. "Tim has always been in the ornamental wood industry and wanted to move into floral greens. We met at my booth of Orgem - a farm that produces cut hydrangeas in Kenya - and discussed the options. Then, the months after we kept in contact and we decided to really join forces the beginning of 2019 by establishing our own company named Two Chiefs."
All about empowerment
According to Ngugi, it is a story about empowerment. "These products are very difficult to grow as they grow in swamps and rivers and we have enough of it here in Kenya. We do not go out and pick the products ourselves, but what we do is, we empower a group of youth who will gather them for us. And importantly, we teach them how to collect them in a sustainable way, so that they do not remove all of them."
Finlay and Waiyaki are seeing the demand increasing. "We started sending out sample boxes to Narita, Japan and Los Angeles, USA, and the ones who received them are coming back for more. Even are already doubling their orders."
Besides papyrus and cut cattails, they also expanded their assortment with other flowers from other Kenyan growers. The kangaroo paw of Imani flowers (see on the picture above) is a variety they added recently.
For more information
Two Chiefs Trading
T: +254 714 194 720