CHAIR OF BOARD KENYA PRIVATE SECTOR ALLIANCE AND ANTI COUNTERFEIT AUTHORITY
Flora Mutahi is the Founder and CEO of Melvin Marsh International – the makers of Melvin’s Teas, Kenya’s pioneering brand of flavoured tea.
She has extensive local and international experience in strategic leadership, business development, market penetration and marketing. Her track record reads of proven ability for innovation, conceptualisation and implementation of new products and business solutions. No wonder, Flora loves being the first one out, in leadership or in new product development.
In 2016, Flora became the first ever female Chair of Board of Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) since its inception in 1959, having first served as the Deputy.
And as predicted, Flora was elected the first ever female Chair of Board of Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) in 2021.
“My appointment as the first ever female Chair of Board is a testimony to KEPSA taking a giant step in the right direction of entrenching inclusivity and meritocracy in its leadership.”Flora Mutahi
“We should continue with this drive and include not just women but also youth, persons living with disabilities, and MSME (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises), owners and leaders of businesses.” she added.
Flora will serve for a period of two years and her leadership will be influential in pushing for a favourable business environment for the more than one million businesses that KEPSA represents, to enable them to speak in one voice when engaging the Government, development partners and other stakeholders on cross-cutting policy issues affecting private sector development. KEPSA also implements programs that ensure growth of businesses and social-economic development of the country. Flora leads a 16-member board consisting of four women and 12 men.
KEPSA is the apex body of the private sector in Kenya. It brings together local and foreign business associations, chambers of commerce, professional bodies, corporates, multinational companies, start-ups, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) from all sectors of the economy.
Flora sits on the board of United Nations (UN) Global Compact-Kenya and is a non-executive Director of several including SBM Bank Kenya and Azizi Realtors, the latter a firm she founded with her husband.
She is currently serving a second term as Chair of Board of Anti Counterfeit Authority where she leads in promoting a counterfeit free Kenya. Flora has served before as Vice Chair of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Business Council for two years, where she was driving policy for trade and on the boards of Export Promotion Council of Kenya and at Jubilee Insurance Company as a non-executive director. Flora is the first Chair of Board (ACA) to be serving a second term.
Flora attended United States International University–Africa, graduating with a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree in Business Administration with emphasis in Accounts and Finance. She then attained an Executive MBA from the University of Cape Town. She is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in Kenya.
After her brief stint in formal employment, Flora then first tried her hands at entrepreneurship by trading in free-flowing salt, but soon realised that the returns were low. “I moved from free-flowing salt to tea blending and packaging in a few months as I noticed that a tonne of salt was $100, and thus knew this was never going to make me money in the market as the returns were so low,” she says.
Before Melvin’s Tea, the Kenyan tea market provided just one packaged option – unflavoured tea. Flora and her team believed there were many tea lovers like them who craved something refreshingly different – fun and flavourful teas which they could enjoy every day. So, in 1995, Flora decided to diversify by setting up Melvin’s Teas. She was getting into uncharted territory.
Her parents were initially sceptical and therefore unwilling to advance her any money for the new venture as they believed “girls get married.” Not only was she getting into an industry dominated by cartels but the tea sub-sector was also controlled by men. Even with these odds, Flora’s tenacious resolve meant that she was not just about to prematurely give up on a venture she’d already set her mind on.
To her credit, Flora’s parents were seasoned entrepreneurs, her mother would always tell them, “Do not go down the beaten path. You have to stand out.” Stand out, Flora has done, and not once.
Born into a family of two boys and two girls, and where everyone was treated equally when it came to household chores no matter their gender, Flora wasn’t in any way intimidated by the men who’d formed a cartél around the country’s tea sub-sector.
Today Flora is proud to say that Melvin’s is a renowned Kenyan brand committed to innovating and elevating your tea experience. They only use natural Kenyan-grown ingredients. And Melvin’s Teas feature no artificial flavours, additives, or preservatives of any kind. Just the finest tea from the Kenyan highlands grown without pesticides or chemicals. Blended with natural herbs, spices, botanicals, sourced directly from Kenyan farmers and freshly ground to their specifications.
Flora states that if she would go back in time, she would take bigger risks. She adds that “Women need to learn to take risks. We are so happy being in the background and letting men take the risks. I have now started Melvin’s Cafe, which aims to introduce a culture of drinking tea outdoors in Kenya.” She goes on to say “You have to stand up for yourself. Be heard. I can have the best idea in a group and I just do not want to voice it because we are conditioned to think that men can say things we can’t. Learn to speak and be heard.”