Success Story

Kenyan woman’s $4 million coffee company chased by big investors in U.S.

Margaret Nyamumbo is a Kenyan entrepreneur and founder of Kahawa 1893 Coffee. In 2021, her coffee brand became the first Black-owned coffee brand to be sold at Trader Joe’s, a leading grocery store in the U.S. It debuted in over 200 Trader Joe’s stores in California.

“Being the first Black woman-owned coffee brand to be sold in Trader Joe’s is not only an exciting time for me but also signifies a commitment to showcasing the amazing diversity in the marketplace by Black-owned brands,” Nyamumbo said. “I am thrilled to share the rich and aromatic flavours of Kahawa 1893, a true Kenyan coffee with consumers while supporting the female African coffee farmers who are an integral part of this incredible journey.”

Fast forward to 2023, and her coffee brand is attracting American business tycoons. She recently appeared on Shark Tank to exchange shares of her company for money. She was seeking $350,000 in funding for five percent of her company. Kahawa 1893 is estimated to be worth $4.3 million.

After her pitch, the Shark Tank investors were falling over each other to invest in Kahawa 1893 Coffee. Investor Emma Grede offered $350,000 for a 12.5 percent stake while Robert Herjavec offered to work with Grede for 12.5 percent. 

Mark Cuban and Lori Greiner both offered a 12.5 percent deal to the U.S.-based Kenyan entrepreneur. After listening to all the offers made by the Sharks, she selected Grede after Grede made an improved offer of $350,000 for an 8 percent stake.

Nyamumbo’s coffee brand is grown in Kenya and roasted fresh in San Francisco. The brand offers several coffee blends, including Kenyan, Peaberry, Serengeti, Ethiopian, Safar, 1893 Espresso, decaf, and single-serve blends.

Nyamumbo hails from Kenya and first migrated to the United States to attend college. She obtained her MBA from Harvard Business School and went on to work as a Wall Street Investment Banker. In 2017, she quit her Wall Street job to establish Kahawa 1893 Coffee.

She grew up on coffee farms in Kenya and knows what goes into the making of coffee. She said in an interview that she ventured into coffee production because she wants to share coffee with the world and also close the racial and gender gap in the coffee industry.

Nyamumbo further explained that in her native country, Kenya, women provide more than 90 percent of the labor in coffee but are under-compensated. “I founded Kahawa 1893 to make sure the women were visible and get a fair share for their outsized contributions to coffee,” she said.

Nyawumbo strategically chose Kahawa 1893 as a brand name to celebrate the beauty of African coffees and Black excellence. Kahawa means coffee in Swahili and 1893 is the year that coffee returned to Africa, according to her company’s website.

Abu Mubarik

Abu Mubarik is a journalist with years of experience in digital media. He loves football and tennis.

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