Current Issue / DU Alumni

African alumna using business degree to market her family’s coffee beans

“Quite honestly, in the beginning I didn’t really want a business degree,” Karugu says. “But I took it because it was practical, especially if I wanted to come back and live in Kenya,” says Rose Karagu.

Kenya’s countryside is a mesh of lush forests and wild vegetation broken up by family and commercial farms of sugar cane, tea and coffee. Just outside of Nairobi is Kiamara Estate Coffee, the 900-acre family farm of Rose Karugu, MBA ’01.

“You have to sell your coffee to the government, which pays as little as $2 per kilogram, and then it’s sold in Europe for $34 per kilogram,” says Karugu, who hopes to use her business skills to help market her family’s coffee directly to buyers. Coffee exports are a $287-million business for Kenya.

“Quite honestly, in the beginning I didn’t really want a business degree,” Karugu says. “But I took it because it was practical, especially if I wanted to come back and live in Kenya.”

Karugu would eventually like to go into business for herself. “Maybe an agricultural business or maybe exporting Kenyan products,” she says. “Or, because of my own experience with hospitals, I might be interested in something to do with health care.”

While she was living in Denver, doctors discovered that Karugu had a brain tumor, for which she underwent three surgeries and radiation therapy. The difference between the Kenyan and American healthcare systems probably saved her life.

“Hospitals in Kenya are not as advanced as those in the United States, especially in the field of oncology,” Karugu says, explaining that if she had been in Kenya, she probably wouldn’t have received the life-saving treatments she needed. “You can go to a hospital here for a broken leg and come out with something much worse. I would like to help Kenyan hospitals to be better equipped.”

In the meantime, Karugu works as the general manager of a tire sealant company. “I am putting my MBA to good use,” she says.


Tags:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

*