After starting in her fathers garage to launch the Azuri brand, Tei recently moved to a export-quality facility in Thika – between her mango growers in Kambiti and her customers in Nairobi - and beyond, through Storimarket. Azuri produces dried mango, papaya, pineapple and tropical mix – all with no additives, so they are tasty as they are healthy.
Partnerships with Kenya Climate Innovation have helped Tei learn about climate friendly production methods, which she has enthusiastically adopted. She focuses on using the abundant solar energy Kenya has to offer to dry her fruit, but also, using the waste products from the fruit to produce biogas, she uses gas. The drier is manufactured from local materials, using local craftsmanship and knowledge - all built to international standards.
As well as focusing on the quality of her products, by adopting hygienic manufacturing practices, she also develops quality relationships with her growers – working with Technoserve. By developing these relationship, such as with Kambiti East Mango Growers (KEMG) who provide about a quarter of Azuri’s mangoes, they give her the choicest fruit. The relationship is transparent and mutually beneficial.
But Tei is also keen to share knowledge with growing groups. The KEMG Chairman, Patrick, explains that they are now setting up their own processing plant by the farms, to ensure that the mangoes lose none of their flavour. With training from Tei, they are increasing the value they get for their mangoes as well as helping Tei increase the scale of her production. Although Patrick produces some products for the local market, he is proud that his growers' mangoes are being exported and enjoyed all over the world.
Tei and Patrick see the relationship as win-win. Patrick and his growers can sell more fresh and dried mangoes at a good price, which provides good income to his members. As he says, it's about money, which spread amongst the community and creates change. Patrick and his members have put a lot of effort into moving from growing to actually drying at their farm – but he is confident his patience will pay off.
For Tei, she is able to buy quality mangoes, as well as dried mangoes, from a reliable and trusted supplier. This means she can confidently increase her production, whilst ensuring the quality remains high – and suitable for export. She also understands that supporting growers’ groups, such as Patrick’s, to value add themselves is good for business – helping them share in the benefits.