Kakuzi Plc appoints new Chair, gives Board seat to its 2nd largest stakeholder in governance changes

KENYA – Kenyan fresh food producer and exporter Kakuzi Plc has named Nicholas Ng’ang’a as Chairman of the Board with immediate effect.

Ng’ang’a has been elevated to the position replacing Graham Mclean, Managing Director for Agriculture at Camellia Plc and former CEO of the Kenya food firm.

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According to the company Graham Mclean steps down from the role but will remain a non-executive Director.

Ng’ang’a served as chairman of giant telecommunication company Safaricom’s board from 2007 until his retirement in July this year.

He is the current chairman of Car & General Kenya limited and G4S security.

Under the changes of its board, the agricultural firm has appointed its second-largest shareholder, Dr John Kibunga Kimani as Non-executive Director.

“Given the current challenging circumstances facing the company, I look forward to being a team player as the board reimagines a Kakuzi that is not only sustainably profitable but also equitably serves the interest of all.”

Non-executive Director, Kakuzi Plc – Dr John Kibunga Kiman

Dr Kimani has extensive experience in the agricultural sector including planning, development and administration of small-holder agricultural extension programmes at District level, developing and managing small-holder irrigation projects and preparing long-range plans for land and water resources across Kenya. 

Notably he led the planning team in the Tana and Athi River basins embracing six districts of what were Central, Eastern and Coast Provinces of Kenya.

He has worked with government agricultural projects aided by the World Bank, SNV of the Netherlands, JICA of Japan, DANIDA of Denmark and GTZ of Germany.

In addition to being a fellow of the Economic Development Institute of the World Bank, Dr John Kimani has a Bsc in Agriculture (Makerere University College, Uganda); an Msc in Agricultural Economics (Reading University, U.K) and a Phd in Development Studies, Economics and Socio-anthropology (University of Sussex, U.K).

He is a member of the Agricultural Society of Kenya as well as a member of the Avocado Exporters Association of Kenya.

The changes come after law firm Leigh Day in October sued the parent company of Kakuzi, Camellia Plc, for turning a blind eye to systematic human rights abuse by its subsidiary’s employees for a period of 11 years since 2009.

This prompted Camellia, which bought a 50.7 percent stake in Kakuzi in the 1990s, to promise reforms in the wake of the allegations that forced firms like British retailer Tesco, Lidl and Sainsbury to suspend supplies including avocados to macadamia nuts from the Nairobi bourse listed company.

The changes are also aimed at giving locals a wide role in the running of the firm.

“Given the current challenging circumstances facing the company, I look forward to being a team player as the board reimagines a Kakuzi that is not only sustainably profitable but also a Kakuzi that equitably serves the interest of all its shareholders and that is sensitive to some of the challenges facing its host community,” Dr Kimani said in a statement.

To further enhance governance structures within Kakuzi Plc, the Board has announced the establishment of an Independent Human Rights Advisory Committee (IHRAC).

The IHRAC will comprise experienced and distinguished individuals drawn from the human rights sector locally and internationally, and representatives of our stakeholders.

Andrew Ndegwa Njoroge, a non-executive independent director of Kakuzi Plc, will sit on the IHRAC.

The Board is also upgrading Kakuzi’s current alternative dispute resolution process by setting up a full Operational-level Grievance Mechanism (OGM), as defined by the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

This, according to Kakuzi will enable members of the community to have their grievances heard and resolved quickly, impartially and in accordance with internationally recognized best practices. 

It will also ensure that appropriate action is taken to deal with anyone who fails to live up to the standards Kakuzi Plc expects of its employees. 

“We must always ensure our corporate policies and human rights processes evolve to accommodate feedback and input from our employees, communities and other stakeholders, wherever they are based.

“The changes and initiatives announced by the Board today are important steps in this regard,” Ng’ang’a, Chairman of Kakuzi Plc, said.

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