[26th April 2013]


Left to right: Mr. Yuichiro Hirose, Mr. Ernest Sebastian, H.E. Mr. Benson H.O. Ogutu, Mr. Makoto Hirano, Mr. Paul K. Ndung'u and Mr. Katsuya Yamagata.

The management of Zensho Co. recently paid a courtesy call on His Excellency the Ambassador. The purpose of this visit was to update His Excellency the Ambassador on the progress of their programmes in Kenya. They also briefed the Ambassador on their charitable activities besides asking the Embassy's support as they expand their business relations with Kenya.

As regards their existing business engagements with Kenyans, the Zensho Co. representatives revealed that their collaborative efforts with Rukuriri and Kangaita Farmers Cooperatives Societies had helped to increase their tea imports from Kenya. The trade has expanded from 3,240 kgs of loose tea in 2010 to a projected 27,000 kgs of loose tea in 2013. It is noteworthy that the Zensho Co. has been dealing Kenyan Co-operative societies as opposed to traders in tea products because they normally import their products on the "Fair Trade" basis. This means that the company is not only interested in buying products but also in ensuring that local farmers benefit as a result of their dealings. Consequently, the company has been spending about 20% of the purchase price for the community's development as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR).

One of the projects that have so far been accomplished under CSR includes an A.I. Project in Kangaita and Rukuriri. The aim is to help farmers improve their dairy cattle stocks. This naturally translates into higher earnings by farmers from the higher milk sales. The Zensho Co. has also been working to help affected farmers improve their tea processing techniques including cleaning. In addition the company has invested in a Day Care Centre for tea farmers' children. They also have plans to construct a medical clinic for the small scale farmers.

In its flourishing relationship with Kenya, Zensho has started a charitable programme in aid of Somali Refugees based in the Dadaab Refugee Camp. The project involves the supply of milk for poor refugee children in the form of a school feeding programme with the help of the Kenya Department of Refugee Affairs. This project has surprised many by the resultant dramatic increase in school enrolment involving refugee children. Following its success, Zensho has decided to launch a similar programme targeting Kenyan schools used by indigenous communities surrounding the refugee camps. 70% of the donations are funded by the Zensho while about 20% of the donations are contributions by company workers through their welfare group. Another 10% of the donations come from the company's customers.

In terms of future plans, the company hopes to embark on a programme to import Kenyan Coffee after identifying a suitable cooperative society for the supply of high quality coffee on the "Fair Trade" basis. This coffee will be subsequently retailed through the company's chain of restaurants. Of the company's 4,000 restaurants, 1000 of them do serve exotic foods and drinks.

H.E. Mr. Benson H.O. Ogutu shakes hand with Mr. Makoto Hirano.

H.E. Mr. Benson H.O. Ogutu and Mr. Paul K. Ndung'u are having discussion with Zensho people.

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