President Uhuru Kenyatta has hailed Mars Incorporated for its Sh7 billion chewing gum factory built by its subsidiary Wrigleys in Athi River.
Once in operation, the factory will produce 7.8 billion pellets of chewing gum annually thereby raising the market share in Kenya to 75 per cent.
The president, in this regard, reaffirmed his administrations’ support for local and international firms investing in local manufacturing.
He said during a meeting with Victoria Mars – board member and immediate former chair of Mass Incorporated, that the development will accelerate the Big Four Pillars for inclusive growth.
The President said the private sector has a pivotal role to play in the country’s quest to create more jobs for Kenyans and improve Kenya’s competitiveness in the global economy through a robust manufacturing sector.
Victoria Mars paid the president a courtesy call at State House, Nairobi.
The Wrigleys facility in Kenya, which is set to be opened later this year, is the only one in Africa serving East African countries such as Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia and South Sudan.
Uhuru said his administration will continue to improve the country’s environment to do business.
He called on the company to take advantage of the recently adopted agreement to establish a continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) to increase its production to serve African countries.
The President also commended the company for its initiative in Mt Elgon where it is supporting 20,000 dairy farmers.
Mars briefed the President on various initiatives undertaken by the company to expand its operations in the region and provide social and economic opportunities for Kenyans.
She cited an entrepreneur program, Maua, which currently has over 700 entrepreneurs.
The president further said the new factory would not only create jobs but also provide opportunities for Small and Medium Enterprises through its expanded value chain.
Mars assured the President that Wrigley and its global parent firm Mars Inc. is committed to working with the government and being a part of Kenya’s increasing presence as a manufacturing hub in Africa.
“Your goal to boost local manufacturing capacity is timely and offers a great opportunity to expand employment and job creation for Kenyans while cementing the country’s position as a key industrial hub in Africa.”
“ Wrigley is keen on growing and developing our business here and contributing to this noble objective,” she said.
She added that Mars was actively supporting many social and economic initiatives to expand employment and business opportunities for Kenyans especially in low-income and rural areas.
Key sectors of engagement include agriculture, through the Livelihoods Fund for Family Farming as well as the Ethical Tea Partnership; working closely with the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA).
Cabinet Secretary for Industry, Trade and Cooperatives, Adan Mohammed and senior government officials were present at the meeting.