Introducing Meru Herbs

Meru Herbs is a co-operative of family farmers based in Tharaka Nithi County, Kenya. They produce herbal teas, tropical jams and tomato-based sauces without the use of fertilisers and chemicals and their mission is focused on female empowerment, sustainable livelihoods, alleviating poverty, and improving standards of living.

The organisation was founded by Italian-born Andrew Botta, initially set up as an irrigation project for local families for a joint initiative with the Catholic Diocese and the Italian Government in the late eighties. Now in his nineties, Botta has lived in Kenya for over 70 years and has watched the organisation grow into a significant employer of women who produce delicious sauces and exotic spreads.

"Everyone has a voice within the business and all the leaders are women – we promote from within and give career opportunities which breathe life and ambition into this community."
Sally Sawaya – Managing Director of Meru Herbs

Meru Herbs are greatly invested in alleviating the challenges faced by small scale farmers such as climate change, pest and disease control, and outdated technology by providing training and best farming practices. Kenyan farmers are now being equipped with the necessary skills they need to flourish in agribusiness, changing the lives of hundreds of farmers and their families in Kenya.

Meru Herbs employee Cecilia Kambura packing various jams for export.

The organisation sets out to fulfil the following goals for its employees:

  • - Ensure women have their own bank accounts
  • - Provide water harvesting equipment
  • - Provide basic housing
  • - Run health based initiatives
  • - A co-op structure with a mission to improves the lives of women and wider society

Ethical Shop supports Meru Herbs by buying via their partner JTS. Partnerships with fair trade companies like JTS in the UK, connect farmers with the global market.

Desperate times

With the recent news about the closure of Traidcraft, Meru Herbs' business is at risk. JTS, as one of their biggest customers, will be left with excess stock now that Traidcraft is no longer purchasing regularly and will not need to place their usual large order with Meru Herbs. This could have a detrimental impact. Sally Sawaya, Managing Director at Meru Herbs, estimates that 1500 people would be adversely impacted (farmers, factory employees and their families) without the regular orders coming from JTS.  Ethical Shop will continue to purchase Meru Herbs stock and we urge you to please continue to buy these delicious food items so that together, we can continue to support the farmers in Kenya.

Producer Fund

Meru Herbs relies on orders to be able to maintain the stability of the business but to also allow them to develop in other areas. Transform Trade has recently launched a Producer Fund to help organistaions like Meru Herbs. For Meru, Transform Trade are specifically raising funds to:

  • - Carry out an overhaul of the solar power systems that power their factories and workers homes
  • - Provide proper weighing equipment to be able to maintain international standards
  • - Support them to reach WFTO certification
  • - Find new routes to the UK market

Ethical Shop has also committed to donating £2,000 from our Fairtrade Fund to Transform Trade's Producer Fund to help organisations like Meru Herbs.

Thank you for supporting the Ethical Shop and all the good things we strive to do.