“Starting a flower export company during a global pandemic was definitely a challenge, and further brand awareness and expansion is now our main focus,” says Samwel Orioki, owner of Progeny Ventures, a Kenyan flower exporting company. While it has been a challenging first year, the company still managed to gain new clients worldwide and are working on their further growth. With their main focus of improving Kenyan floriculture and the unemployment rate, they are working hard to navigate through the recent challenges of production loss and gaining the trust of new buyers, in order to further grow their business.
Main focus: brand awareness
Orioki shares that in just one year, which was also an exceptionally challenging year to start a flower export company, they were able to considerably grow their business. “In our first year we have been able to add new clients worldwide, such as in Asia, the Middle East and the UK. To improve this brand awareness is definitely a big focus for us now, as we want to make sure our company is known worldwide. We are hoping to soon start business relationships with clients in The Netherlands. So far, it has been challenging as Dutch buyers often go through the auction, whereas we ship our orders from the farm to the client directly. So it has been our aim to convince people of the benefits of using our company. We are able to access many different farms and choose the best quality possible and can personally guarantee the freshness of the flowers we ship.” Orioki adds that they are getting more and more inquiries for the Dutch market and are hoping to gain Dutch clients by the end of the year.
Gaining trust and trusting clients
As a new company, one of Progeny Ventures’ biggest challenges has been to gain trust, as well as trusting their clients themselves. “When you are new in the industry, you don’t have a portfolio yet or a large history with your clients. As a result, it is not that easy to earn the trust of a new buyer. At the same time, we have to be extremely careful ourselves as it is not uncommon to get orders that are too good to be true; everything will look great, as a big order is placed, but after all the flowers are shipped, no one receives any money. This is quite a big and familiar problem among farmers. Several have lost their properties as a result of losing a big amount of money. So, also for us as a new company, we are learning quickly to deal with these challenges and we find it important to build strong relationships with our clients.”
The recent bad weather in Kenya has not helped them along either, as it has slowed down much of the local production. “It has recently been cold and rainy which has been severely impacting production, and leading to a much lower output from the flower farms than we are used to. Thankfully, summer flowers are most in demand right now and they are a lot easier to grow than roses, for example, as summer flowers are a lot less fragile.” At the same time, the overall demand has been slightly lower over the summer. “We notice that this summer especially, the weather in other countries is improving and people are enjoying their freedom again after dealing with restrictions for such a long time. As a result, flowers are less on everyone’s minds than when they were stuck in home and wanted to brighten up their spaces. Luckily, we are already getting plenty of orders in for December, as people want flowers for Christmas and New Year.”
Creating jobs in Kenya
One of Orioki’s main goals for the future, is to help Kenyan floriculture and the high unemployment rate. “Obviously we are working hard on making our company as successful as possible, but another important aspect for us is helping the Kenyan industry. Our objective is to have a 100% direct market with the international markets. In addition, as the Kenyan unemployment rate is so high, it is important for our company to come up with solutions. In the future, we hope to have our own farm so that we are able to give local people some autonomy and a proper income.”
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