Mars Wrigley, the leading manufacturer of chocolate and chewing gum worldwide, has announced its plans to expand its unique distribution model aimed at the low-income consumer market in Kenya, Tanzania, and Rwanda.
The innovative program, known as Maua, has been in operation since 2013 and aims to support micro and small enterprises in creating sustainable jobs and livelihoods in Kenya. To date, Maua has already benefited 1,600 traders, including 700 women. Mars Wrigley intends to recruit an additional 1,000 entrepreneurs in Kenya by the end of this year, bringing the total to 2,600.
Ismael Bello, the General Manager for Sub-Saharan Africa at Mars Wrigley, expressed the program’s high success rate, with an impressive 85 percent retention rate. Bello further revealed the company’s plans to introduce the initiative in Tanzania in 2024 and Rwanda in 2025.
Speaking at the ceremony commemorating the tenth anniversary of Maua at Mars Wrigley’s factory and head office in Athi River, Machakos County, Bello described Maua as a resounding success in reaching underserved consumer markets while simultaneously achieving their social and sustainability objectives. He emphasized the company’s commitment to expanding the program throughout Kenya and the region.
Her Excellency Wavinya Ndeti, the Governor of Machakos County, applauded Maua as an inspiring model for private companies to generate employment opportunities and sustainable livelihoods, particularly for women and youth, while supporting the growth of micro- and small-scale enterprises.
“I am particularly delighted to note that 4 out of 10 beneficiaries of this noble initiative are women. I urge more companies to emulate Wrigley so that together, we can create meaningful livelihood and business opportunities for our people,” she stated.
Maua involves partnering with independent micro-entrepreneurs and micro-distributors to sell Mars Wrigley’s products in informal settlements and rural communities. The primary objective is to create mutual benefits for both the company and the communities benefiting from the program.
Bello explained that through Maua, they aim not only to expand their business but also to establish a platform for building financial and social capital by working with individuals who are passionate about entrepreneurship and improving lives. He expressed enthusiasm for the program’s transformative impact in the next 10 years.
As an innovative market approach, Maua focuses on consumers who are traditionally difficult to reach through conventional distribution channels. Mars Wrigley identifies and trains small-scale entrepreneurs, providing them with the company’s popular products, such as Big G, Juicy Fruit, PK, and Doublemint. Additionally, Mars Wrigley equips the traders with necessary tools, including backpacks, bicycles, and motorbikes.
The program benefits small wholesalers operating stock points, micro-distributors responsible for moving products from stock points to retail shops, as well as hawkers who sell directly to consumers on the streets. Mars Wrigley also offers training to program participants in fundamental entrepreneurial skills such as record-keeping, branding, and business management.
Maua aligns with Mars Wrigley’s principle of mutuality and its global strategy to reach consumers in the so-called Bottom-of-the-Pyramid by employing innovative marketing models that foster social capital.
In 2018, Mars Wrigley committed to increasing the number of women entrepreneurs in the program. By empowering women with opportunities to earn a decent livelihood, Maua indirectly contributes to the realization of an inclusive and prosperous society.
Moreover, Maua directly contributes to achieving at least four international Sustainable Development Goals, namely, Zero Poverty (Goal 1), Gender Equality (Goal 5), Decent Work and Economic Growth (Goal 8), and Reduced Inequalities.