Life becomes rosy for former accountant
He left the financially secure world of a chief financial officer of Bujagali Hydro Power project to grow flowers, a venture he now holds so dearly.
When Peter Kemei, director and founder of Flora Ora, exported his first batch in November 2011, he felt a sense of accomplishment.
It had taken years of studies, market orientation and a sense of determination to make true the venture.
Kemei said he had been acquainted with the world of flowers after he was hired by Sian Roses as a lead consultant.
They wanted comprehensive market research on the flower market in Kenya. He said he did impressive work for Sian which is currently one of the top five farms in Kenya.
“With the knowledge I gained from there and the consultancy and available opportunities, I knew I would make it,” he said.
So he secured a 35-hectares in the sleepy hills of Bahati, Nakuru, and converted it into a flower farm. The total investment amounted to Sh100 million, 40 per cent of which was debt.
He first started with summer flowers, or what is called fillers, which supports the main bouquets like roses.
“I did not know much on this, but it was a lesser risk,” he said. The summer flowers occupy 17 hectares.
Then he introduced other types of flowers like Kangaroo paw. This, he said, are rare as a pink poodle, but very pricey in the international markets.
The 50-year-old father of four said the future was bright. He plans to introduce roses now that he is more versed with Kenya’s climatic conditions.
He has dedicated ten hectares for roses and if everything goes well, he will increase the area.
He also wants to start making bouquets (a value addition) for both local retail and export markets.
Flora Ora has over 300 employees, which, according to Kemei, has changed the fortunes of youths in the area.
“Flower farms are labour intensive. There is a personal gratification to see people positively impacted by the farm,” he added.
He sells most of his products in the Netherlands auction, the largest in the world.