Esther Wambui Kimani has turned her passion for flowers into a thriving business in Kenya.
She is the owner of Merest Flowers, an enterprise that specializes in connecting cut flower growers, farms and plantations in Kenya with florists and wholesale flower buyers across the globe.
Esther has been fond of flowers since she was young but the inspiration to turn it into a business came after an interaction with a friend who is a florist.
I have always had a passion for flowers but never thought I would one day have a business in that sector. I once met a friend who is a florist and I was really inspired to start my own flower business. That is how Merest Flowers came to life,” Esther says.
Starting the business was not easy for her. Her field of study was totally different from her passion. Esther is an Information Technology(IT) profession currently pursuing her masters. She says she had to attend flower exhibitions and trainings to learn about the different kinds of flowers and the available market.
“I am an IT profession and currently pursuing my master’s degree since I am always fascinated with how things work. This however, has not hindered me from running my flower business. When I started, the path was not easy, just like any other business. I had to attend several exhibitions, workshops and trainings to learn about the flowers, the market and to network with flower farmers,” Esther explains.
Merest’s business model is a unique one. Instead of planting flowers and selling them, the company contracts flower farmers and connects them to buyers. Their biggest market is in the Middle East but also sell flower bouquets locally in Nairobi.
“In July 2019, we started our operations with one client, Kiani Flower Farm. The farm has three branches in Kitengela, Nakuru and Mount Kenya of whom we service,” she explains. “Before we sign any contract, we visit the farms to ensure the quality of the flowers meets the export market requirement and also negotiate prices with the farm owners to give them value for their hard work,” says Esther.
Merest Flowers then sources for buyers across the globe and links them to the farm. “At Merest, our marketing team is determined to connect farmers with buyers who are willing to offer the value for the flowers. This has built trust between us and our clients,” she says.
The enterprise has offices at Westlands where she has employed five permanent staff who ensure the business runs efficiently.
Esther is happy because her work has created impact in the society. “I am able to help flower farmers who struggle to look for a market for their produce. By easing their market hustle, they are able to focus on the farm to ensure they give quality products,” she says.
Esther adds on to say that, “the partnership with KCIC is a blessing to my enterprise. I am looking forward to expanding our export target and also opening branches in Eldoret and Nanyuki. The trainings and workshops will also help us get access to market opportunities for our business both locally and internationally.”
This IT professional did not wait for her career in the technology world to hold pace, she found her passion and chose to pursue it.
My advice to young people is, do not just sit down and wait for things to happen. Identify your passion and try to connect with as many people as possible doing something similar and learn. Agribusiness is the best place to start,” she says.
Esther says she financed her business startup with savings though it is a business that did not require much capital to start.