Ravine Roses is part of Karen Roses Limited Group, a company established in 1989 by the Kotut family.
About Ravine Roses
After few years of activity in Karen, Nairobi, the decision was made to set up Ravine Roses and move the production to Eldama Ravine, in the Rift Valley Province, approximately 220km north-west of Nairobi. Lying just a few miles north of the equator and about 2100m above sea level, this is a nearly ideal location and ecological environment for the cultivation of high quality roses.
Today, Ravine Roses is made up of five farms (Kapkolia, Chepsito, Kaptumpo, Simotwo, and Torongo), each run by a production manager and equipped with its own facilities. These farms employ more than 1,200 full-time workers, a majority of which (52%) are women, making Ravine Roses the biggest employer in Eldama Ravine and surroundings. The role played by the enterprise in the economy of the region is even greater considering that this is an area with high rates of youth unemployment and is mainly inhabited by subsistence farmers.
The Kenyan cut flower sector dates back to the 1960s, but it was only three decades later that this industry began to thrive and develop. Since then, Kenyan production of cut flowers has grown steadily at an average of 20% per annum, from around 10,000 tonnes in 1988 to more than 125,000 tonnes today. Data shows that over 90,000 people are directly employed in the industry and an estimated 2 million depend on it for their livelihood.
The success of the floriculture industry in Kenya stems, in particular, from the ability of the country to attract investors thanks to a solid infrastructure, a productive workforce, and favourable climatic conditions that allow for a year-round production of a wide variety of quality flowers. High international competitiveness has enabled Kenya to become the fifth largest exporter of cut flowers, and the lead exporter of cut roses to the European Union (market share of 38%). As a consequence, this industry has become the country’s second largest agricultural foreign exchange earner after tea.
Production & Sales
The enterprise produces over 40 varieties of roses in 85 greenhouses covering more than 60 hectares of land. Approximately half of the roses are grown in soil and half in hydroponics, an agricultural technique that has a limited environmental impact. The entire production of over 63 million stems per year is destined for export, mainly to the UK. However, recently, in order to reduce the dependency on a single market and cushion against currency fluctuations, Ravine Roses is trying to diversify its production by including more varieties of flowers, as well as more destinations for its exports (e.g. Russia).
Ravine Roses was Fairtrade certified in 2005. Today, the enterprise sells around 25 million Fairtrade certified stems, corresponding to approximately 40% of the total annual production. For its Fairtrade sales, Ravine Roses is paid the relevant commercial price for the product. On top of this, the enterprise receives a Fairtrade Premium, equivalent to 10% of the market price, for the workers to invest in social projects of their choice. Premium funds are managed by a Premium Committee made up of ten representatives of the workers and one of the management, the latter occupying only an advising position. This committee has the task of proposing, carrying out, and overseeing premium projects selected by the workers.
Fairtrade Premium Projects
- Establishment of a bursary scheme to assist bright and needy students joining one of the six primary schools in the area or continuing their studies to high school.
- Institution of Edu-credit, a scheme to provide interest-free loans for school fees to all workers. Approximately 85% of the workers have already benefited from this initiative.
- Construction of a wide array of facilities in various schools of the area. Projects financed through premium funds include: classrooms in seven schools serving more than 550 students, an 80 seat library at Kamelilo Secondary School, an administrative block at Kibias primary school, a science laboratory at Eldama Ravine girls’ high school, and a boy’s dormitory at Saos secondary school.
- Construction of a kindergarten for about 50 children, three Early Childhood Development (ECD) classrooms in two schools of the district, as well as a kitchen and store at Eldama Ravine children’s home.
Health and sanitation
- Introduction of a local medical project to provide communities in the outreach areas, employees of Ravine Roses, and the overall community with various medical services, such as immunization, and HIV/AIDS awareness, counselling and testing.
- Construction of septic latrines at Mochongoi primary school to improve sanitation standards.
- Construction of a 150m3 water tank in the Perkerra community so that residents have an adequate supply of water to meet their needs.
- Establishment of a home improvement programme to enhance hygiene and sanitation standards and ensure that all workers have access to clean and safe water.
Social and environmental projects
- Construction of an all-inclusive resource centre for the workers. This facility features a computer lab, tailoring room, recreation rooms, library, restaurant, and spaces to let.
- Establishment of a community shop that buys items in bulk and makes them available to workers on hire purchase. Items offered include: solar panels, iron sheets for roofing, bicycles, televisions, etc.
- Implementation of a sports and talent fund to support the sporting activities of the workers through the provision of sport equipment and kit, sponsorship of tournaments, as well as talent exploration and identification activities (drama, music, etc.).
- Introduction of a welfare fund to mitigate the effects of unforeseen tragedies faced by the workers.
- Rehabilitation of selected community bridges and culverts to functional standards so as to improve drainage and usability especially during the rainy season.