Kenya Wine Agencies Ltd – A Fine Vintage

We learn how Kenya Wine Agencies is drawing on its heritage to drive the business into the future.

Kenya Wine Agencies Ltd (KWAL) was incorporated in 1969, and it rapidly established itself as a pioneer of the wine industry in Kenya, establishing the country’s first commercial winery in 1982. Since then, KWAL has experienced tremendous growth and transformation, becoming the name behind most of Kenya’s household brands from Kibao Vodka to Nederburg Wines, Kingfisher and beyond.

“While building our portfolio of quality beverages we also enrich the stakeholders within our value chain,” explains Lina Githuka, Managing Director of KWAL. “We are inspired by our consumers to make quality brands and extend the same passion and enthusiasm in all our activities.  Our strategic vision is to be the most preferred and respected beverage company in Eastern Africa and we continue to work towards realising this vision.”

Since the company was founded KWAL has built a proud reputation in the industry, with a strong foundation of quality brands and a heritage tied into Kenya’s history.

“Our heritage dates back to the incorporation of the organisation 52 years ago to provide indigenous Kenyans an opportunity to participate in the wine and spirits business,” says Githuka. “With this foundation, local brands were produced for everyday citizens to enjoy. It is from this pioneering heritage that we derive our innovative spirit and continuous improvement mindset to continue providing quality brands and exemplary service in all our undertaking.”

The Genuine Article

But while KWAL has invested heavily in creating a name and a reputation for itself, it is not the only one trying to profit from it.

“Counterfeiting is one of the biggest threats facing brand owners, consumers, and also negatively affects those along the value chains of legitimate businesses,” explains Githuka. “At KWAL, we take great pride in the quality of our brands and continuously seek to defend the pride in our craftsmanship. We are responsible for providing our consumers with quality brands that they can enjoy with the confidence that the product is genuine.”

The process of ensuring consumers get to consume genuine products is a job that involves a great deal of collaboration between stakeholders, the public and the law.

“We work closely with the public and law enforcement agencies to disrupt counterfeiting operations,” Githuka says. “Counterfeiting is a global occurrence and both brands, governments and consumers have taken notice of the issue and continuously take the necessary steps to minimise the risks.”

The Most Valuable Asset

The reputation of KWAL and its brands is only part of the secret to its success, however. Speaking with Githuka it is clear that she places a great deal of importance on the quality of her team.

“Our people are the most valued asset and enduring advantage we have at KWAL. It is thanks to them that our organisation continues to receive accolades,” she insists. “If I could give an example, our flagship brand Kibao Vodka was recognised internationally as one of the fastest-growing spirits in the world. I’m very proud of Team KWAL and we continue to seek more ways of improving employee wellness, as well as their learning and growth opportunities.”

Githuka sees it as her job, and the job of her colleagues in the leadership team, to continuously improve KWAL’s Employee Value Proposition, enabling the company to attract the right talent.

“Further, we select and develop our people for the long haul,” Githuka says. “One of the ways we have achieved this is through our intelligent Learning Management System that provides numerous learning categories that take a holistic approach to developing our teams.”

KWAL also strives to be an employer of choice through it’s employee reward and recognition scheme.

“We are committed to the highest standard of corporate citizenship,” Githuka says. “We coordinate our CSR initiatives through a structured framework for KWAL’s CSR practice in consideration of fundamental principles such as Kenya’s vision 2030, nature of manufacturing and the alcoholic beverage industry, and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”

KWAL runs a variety of initiatives throughout the Financial Year, based on shared value between the organisation and society as a whole. These programs are focused on the youth, community and environment.

“Let me share an example of our response to the COVID pandemic. At the onset of the pandemic, we donated 105,000 litres of ethanol to Kenya Pipeline Company who had been mandated to oversee a government initiative for the mass production and distribution of hand sanitisers,” Githuka tells us proudly. “We also donated an amount of Ksh 10,000,000 to the Government COVID kitty, a contribution towards the purchase of PPEs for the health workers and social security fund to vulnerable Kenyans.”

On top of this work, a major feature of KWAL’s approach to corporate responsibility is in how the company undertakes its business sustainably. Given the nature of the industry, KWAL is also pushing hard to promote and advocate for the responsible consumption, promotion and sale of its products.

A Future to Toast To

Looking to the future, Kenya Wine Agencies Ltd has some great prospects on the horizon. Currently, the company is planning to move its factory premises to a new site at Tatu Industrial Park.

“The investment will mark the first new production facility opened by KWAL in more than two decades,” Githuka explains. “Our new facility is expected to greatly enhance our production capacity, as well as our competitiveness within the East African region.  Additionally, as current leaders in the wine segment in Kenya, we have the ambition to grow the wine market in the country and capture the fascinating trends for those who enjoy wine. We are also keen on expanding our product offering, to tap into the growing consumer trends. The general outlook of the alcohol industry in Kenya remains positive,  and I am confident that KWAL is well positioned to drive the desired growth. Just like fine wine – the older the better!”

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