The Outgrowers Project
Our founder, James Finlay Kenya believes in empowering local communities and helping to make a positive impact on the society. To that end, James Finlay Kenya launched The Outgrowers Project, which aims to empower and improve the socioeconomic welfare of small-scale tea farmers in Kericho and Bomet Counties. The company has undertaken several initiatives to empower small-scale tea farmers through the Outgrowers Project.
The company developed and strengthened the tea smallholder organizational model. This entailed the formation of five commercially oriented primary co-operatives under the auspices of a co-operative union known as Fintea Growers Cooperative Union Limited. Building on existing relationships between smallholder farmers and Finlays, the project has assisted over 10,000 farmers in forming co-operatives in order to strengthen their bargaining power over their livelihoods and relationships with Finlays. To ensure inclusion of youth and women in the management of the cooperatives and the umbrella Union, Finlays organised trainings and sensitization programmes that embedded good governance and diversity in the cooperative policy guidelines.
The primary cooperatives formed include:
- Chepchep Cooperative Society Limited (Bomet County)
- Chesetekaa Cooperative Society Limited (Bomet County)
- Kapkap Cooperative Society Limited (Bomet County)
- Kokchaik Cooperative Society Limited (Kericho County)
- Ainamoi Tea Produce & Multi-Purpose Cooperative Society Limited (Kericho County)
Through the project, the company also assisted smallholder tea farmers to diversify crop production and trade away from over-reliance on green tea monoculture. This included growing of vegetables, stevia and essential oils; investment diversification by the cooperatives to support smallholder tea farmers; made tea dealership (James Finlay Kenya’s factory door sales); making of tea gunny bags; maize supply at subsidized prices; supporting the farmers to venture into M-pesa business and commercial banking agency; providing the tea farmers with tea plucking advances, helping the farmers to access SACCO loans; posho milling and packaging; and Agrovet outlets, feeds mixing and distribution.
As part of the initiative, Finlay’s tea sales and marketing function has also linked smallholder tea farmers to external markets. The small-scale tea farmers can now achieve niche’ market quality standards through training on Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade certification among other good agricultural practices. This has guaranteed premium prices for their tea products. Premium funds received from Fairtrade buyers are channeled to community projects. Through the project, the company has also developed competitive black tea marks exclusively for Outgrower tea farmers (Bondet and Masingi Marks) which are currently outperforming the company marks in the tea auction.
Since good agricultural and land management practices are essential for good agricultural economics and environmental sustainability, Finlays has educated smallholder tea farmers on environmental sustainability, the benefits of which have been and continue to be realized.
Moreover, as part of further empowering the small-scale tea farmers and the local community, the outgrowers green leaf transportation to factories in Finlays has been contracted to the community. The arrangement has benefited over forty (40) smallholder tea growers who own lorries.