10 Questions to Lucy Yinda – Director of Kikwetu Flowers

Staff
8 Min Read

10 questions to Lucy Yinda, is an interesting one for this week! Her love for flowers and humanity is so evident. Starting her floral journey at the family-owned farm, Baraka Roses to founding her farm, Kikwetu Flowers. That is not all, she is also a humanitarian, through her organization Wema Centre, she has rescued street children in the coastal region, for the past three decades!

Interesting read, enjoy!

Question 1

For those who don’t know you, who are you and what do you do?

My name is Lucy Yinda, married to Edwin and have three children and four grandchildren. I live in Mombasa Kenya, which has the best climate in the world, warm every day of the year!  I am the Managing Director of Kikwetu Flowers and so I work almost full time remotely but commute to Timau regularly to oversee guide and catch up with operations on the ground. My experience with flowers started in 2011 at Baraka Roses, another family business which inspired me to set up Kikwetu Flowers, a high-altitude farm which I manage with my son Mathia together with a very professional team of managers and exceptional employees.

 Additionally, I run a street children institution called Wema Centre Trust in Mombasa since 1993, which rescues street children from dumpsites and streets. We rehabilitate them through psychosocial support, education, shelter and thereafter reunify them with their families. Through my book Courage is Calling, you will read about my quest to live my purpose, though it was scary I embraced it! Saving Mombasa’s street children. You can support the movement too!”

 

Lucy Yinda holding her book, Courage Is Calling

 

Question 2

What is so special about your job?

My job is special, important and funny! It is special because I am a woman managing one of the few flower farms owned by an indigenous Kenyan. It is also important because I support the team to deliver quality flowers that bring beauty, happiness, and joy to the world. I train young people to grow flowers and others to be effective managers in their respective departments and to work together in team Kikwetu. I think there are funny moments when I try to use the farm to keep fit, walking several kilometers within the farm and skipping meals!”

 

10 Questions to
Lucy Yinda interacting with clients at their booth during IFTEX 2024

 

Question 3

Are there any specific challenges or obstacles you’ve faced at work, and how did you overcome them?

Challenges are ever present but I strive to overcome them. One of the challenges choosing varieties that produce high quality and have the resilience to be productive in the Timau unique climate. I had to do many trials and plant only after stringent growing tests to check things like resistance to certain diseases, length and head size, production cycles, etc. The farm is now able to determine which varieties to establish based on constant trials and I am proud to say we have come up with amazing products as a result.”

 

10 Questions to
Lucy Yinda participating at Wemathon, the annual marathon aimed at raising funds for Wema Centre

 

Question 4

What are the threats in the industry, and if so, do you have any solutions for them?

Freight costs went up due to COVID challenges but never came down. This is a big challenge, especially for growers that sell through the auction. The other big challenge is the new $10 tax charged per invoice. If for instance we issue 40 invoices per day, the bill could easily translate to over Ksh 15 million per year in addition to other admin and logistics cost.

We also pay a huge amount to the Kenya Flower Council for KEBS (Kenya Bureau of Standards) as if we are manufacturers with certain standards to adhere to, which is not the case. Our standards are easily regulated by the market itself. In other words, the cost of doing business is getting higher and higher for flower farms.”

 

10 Questions to
Lucy Yinda with her son Matthia Yinda at the IFTEX 2024

 

Question 5

How has technology like e-commerce platforms or digital marketing affected your industry, which strategies have you employed to stay competitive?

Technology has made it easier for us to sell and market our products. For example, we can put our products on online platforms and buyers all over the world can place orders. Technology is also making it easier for us to manage the business e.g., remote monitoring of movement of products, temperatures, quick access to information, etc., and hence we can make quick decisions that affect our business and thus become more efficient.”

 

10 Questions to
With the deputy governor of Kilifi County during a fundraiser for Wema Centre

 

Question 6

Who (in or outside the floral industry) is an inspiring example to you? And Why?

“The Kenya flower industry has some great people and I am especially inspired by Eliud of Credible Blooms and Grace Nyachai of Simbi Flowers. These are Kenyans who have struggled through the early days with an industry that was dominated by foreigners and have reached great heights, yet remained humble enough to mentor upcoming growers.”

Question 7

How do you handle stress or difficult moments in your life?

Tough times are inevitable while in this world. I am a Christian and my faith in God helps me ride through those moments. I also face the cause of stress or difficulty head-on and try to deal with issues before they become “elephants”. It is also very important to relax and I have learned to take time off with family as often as I can. There is nothing like spending time with my children and grandchildren to chase away stress.”

Question 8

What has been the best (floral or non-floral) news for you lately, or of the last year?

Non-floral best news. I welcomed a new grandson last September! Floral best news. One of our new products the Julieta spray rose series is making waves and I am so glad we introduced it into our assortment.”

 

10 Questions to
Kenya’s floral influencer Rosemary Kimunya visiting Kikwetu Flowers

 

Question 9

Which is your favorite flower/plant and why is it good for you?

“As a grower, the flower that always brightens my day is Rose Proud by De Ruiter, a bright white rose. It demands care and attention but it likes my soil and grows tall and elegant. It is also a beautiful white rose that works for every occasion including beautifying the house.”

Question 10

What are you doing this weekend?

I am going to the spa!”

 

10 Questions to

 

All pictures courtesy of Lucy Yinda.

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