Sunday, June 16, 2024

Shiro Ndirangu: Lady who quit her bank job to become top Hass Avocado exporter

As a child, Shiro Ndirangu has always admired becoming a pilot.

She wanted to see the world and was convinced that the only way she could manage that was if she flew the plane.

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But life gave her the knowledge to see things from a different perspective. Shiro realized that she needed not fly to tour the globe. Any job could land her in any corner of the world.

This life sentiment came while she studied a Bachelor of Commerce in Administration and Finance at Strathmore University.

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“I was fascinated by pilots and wanted to be one. I thought it was the only way I could see the world. I was to learn later that I did not need to fly the plane to see the world,” Shiro expressed.

During her campus days, Shiro would spend most of her weekends and holidays on the farm with her parents. She’d help in picking and packing fruits and vegetables for sale.

Agribusiness was a good option for her, but she was uncertain whether to follow in her parents’ footsteps. She graduated from Strathmore in 2008 and worked at a local bank for nearly seven years before showing herself out.

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“The desire to be back in the farms became so apparent, so I quit my job and pursued my passion. I have never looked back,” she recalls.

Currently, Shiro Ndirangu works as the Managing Director at Afrex Gold Limited. Initially, Shiro joined in 2016 as a General Manager before being promoted to Managing Director in 2021.

Founded in 2000, Afrex are a company dealing with packaging and exportation of fruits and vegetables overseas.

Afrex’s main focus in the international markets is Hass Avocado. Being the team leader, Shiro notes that she gets satisfaction in exploring her full potential in Management.

Her duties include guiding the company to meet their objectives and engaging different stakeholders in the industry.

Afrex has long term supply agreements with clients in Europe and Gulf Countries. Their office headquarters are in Thika. Here, they process up to 1000 tonnes of Avocado monthly.

“Our portfolio includes avocado, mangoes, banas and pineapple. We do however, focus more on avocado from small holder farmers throughout the country,” Shiro states.

Afrex Gold Limited has also partnered with farmers to help them get supplies for local markets before they can widen their scopes to opportunities abroad.

“I’m currently spearheading a project in land restoration that allows us to work with small scale farmers to improve the quality of seedling they use in their farms for better yields, while planting exotic trees that are beneficial to their ecological zones,” she says.

“With the gains made over the last seven years in the sector, meeting this aggressive goal will certainly be the highlight of my career,” Shiro added.

Shiro notes that the Afrex Limited prefer to deal with Hass and Fuerte varieties of Avocado. The indigenous ‘Jumbo’ variety is sold to specific markets.

READ: Meet the Nakuru Couple Raking Fortune From 10 Acre Hass Avocado Farm

Prices are subject to variety, size, quality, demand, supply and location. They range from Sh. 35 to Sh. 110 per kilogram.

“We work directly with farmers to ensure that they get value for their produce through fair pricing,” Shiro says.

Additionally, Shiro disclosed that the avocado value chain has led to job creation for hundreds of people who are employed in nurseries, farms, packaging facilities and logistics providers.

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