Patrick Mbugua, the general manager at WildFire Flowers in Naivasha, turned 40 this month. For eight years, Patrick has overseen the production and export of flowers; roses and hypericum, in a farm in Karagita.
If anything accurately describes his career, mobility comes quite close. Prior to joining WildFire Flowers, he had worked as the finance controller at Ol Seki Hemingways Mara Camp, Almanara Diani Beach Resort and at two other places. Yet settling down at his current role was natural.
From managing 60 employees to 600 now, he never felt out of his depth. “My experiences in the hospitality space expanded my worldview and built my communication and people-skills, which have been handy in my current job.”
He tells me that steering a company of happy employees is the highlight of his career. ‘‘We export flowers 365 days every year. We can’t shut down the farm even for a day. When I joined the company in 2013, I introduced end-of-year parties.’’
The predominantly European flower market is very conscious of flower sources, he explains, adding: “There’s more scrutiny now on how the product is grown, growers’ ethics and the welfare of their employees.”
Consequently, there are multiple certifications, including the Kenya Flower Council, Silver Standard and Fairtrade International among others. These bodies undertake annual on-site audits, including monitoring production processes such as the use of water and fertilizers and employee’s treatment, working conditions and compensation.
“Those who fail to meet the set threshold have their certificates canceled, leading to loss of some markets,” he says, adding that relations between farms and employee unions have grown cordial in recent years as a result.
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