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Margaret Nyamumbo: Kenyan Behind First Black-Owned Coffee Brand to Sell in Over 1,000 Stores in the US

Margaret Nyamumbo
Margaret Nyamumbo of Kahawa 1893 PHOTO/Shout Out LA

Margaret Nyamumbo is the founder of Kahawa 1893, which sells coffee and tea grown by women farmers across East Africa.

After studying in the USA, she returned home with ideas on how to bring Kenyan coffee to the world in a way that benefits local farmers the most.

The company sells 16 different roasts and origins coffee beans from Kenya, Rwanda and Congo, and finished products including Decaf, African Spice and Dark Roast.

Here is Margaret’s story as told by EAFeed.

Margaret established Kahawa 1893 in 2017 with hopes of empowering and supporting Kenyan women involved in coffee farming.

Her idea proved to work as of 2022, Kahawa 1893 had given over Ksh 2.5 million to Kenyan women growing its coffee.

“Each bag of Kahawa has a QR code that, when scanned, offers the opportunity to tip the women farmers in Kenya, and the company matches each tip,” a statement on Daily Meal read.

At the time of this publishing, Kahawa 1893 is in over 1,037 stores across the US and has partnered with a woman-owned coffee shop, Early Yves, to provide all their coffee.

Early beginnings

Margaret grew up at her grandfather’s coffee farm in Kisii, and she would help her mother pick berries from time to time.

Her grandfather worked in the colonial government and he 2as among the first native farmers to start growing coffee in Kenya.

“My grandfather was a driver for the colonial government, and managed to get his hands on some seedlings to start his own coffee farm,” Margaret wrote.

Despite growing up in a humbe background, Margaret performed well in school and landed a scholarship to study in the United States.

However, her family could not afford to send her there, forcing them to organise a fundraiser to pull together resources for their daughter’s journey to the US.

Margaret Nyamumbo
Margaret Nyamumbo on Shark Tank PHOTO/ABC

Education and employment

Following her arrival abroad, Margaret enrolled at Harvard Business School where she graduated with an MBA, working for the World Bank and Wall Street.

However, while in New York, she struggled finding Kenyan coffee within the city and committed to introduce a Kenyan brand into the US market.

Having grown up around coffee farmers, Margaret wanted to help women involved in coffee farming get proper compensation for their hardwork.

“Growing up, I witnessed first hand the how women performed the lion’s share of work in coffee cultivation, but went uncompensated

“I never intended to go back into coffee, but when I decided to go into the industry, closing this gender gap was of utmost importance to me,” she said.

Kahawa 1893

In 2017, Margaret established Kahawa 1893 which later went on to become the first black-owned coffee brand to be stocked at Trader Joe’s.

In 2022, she brought her company to Shark Tank seeking Ksh 48 million in exchange for 5% of the company but walked out with the same amount for 8% from guest Shark Emma Grede.

Kahawa 1893 sells 16 different roasts and origins of coffee beans from Kenya, Rwanda and Congo, including both whiskey and rum barrel-aged coffee beans.

It offers subscriptions, sampler sets, including the Shark Tank Sampler and single-serve coffee bags to be dunked in hot water like tea.

It is on track to produce K-Cups in 2023, but there is no clear timeline for the product launch.

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