Mars Wrigley expands its Maua route-to-market strategy in Kenya

By our News Team | 2023

Grassroots programme that empowers micro-entrepreneurs will be grown in Kenya and extended to Tanzania and Rwanda, company says.

Global confectionary company Mars Wrigley has announced an extension of its already successful Maua programme that empowers micro-entrepreneurs in Kenya to sell to hard-to-reach-consumers in rural areas.

The distribution model has been operating since 2013 and already has around 1,600 people involved. They sell Mars Wrigley chocolate and chewing gum brands such as Juicy Fruit, Orbit, PK, Doublemint and Big G.


Kenya’s Maua route-to-market programme will expand to Tanzania in 2024 and to Rwanda in 2025. Photo courtesy of Mars Wrigley

An additional 1,000 Kenyans will now be added to the Maua programme. The company also has plans to expand the concept to Tanzania in 2024 and to Rwanda in 2025.

In simple terms, Maua is a route-to-market strategy which targets consumers who are hard to reach through traditional product distribution channels. To do so, it trains small-scale local entrepreneurs and equips them with the necessary tools of the trade – such as backpacks, bicycles or motorcycles – as well as training them in skills like record-keeping, branding and business management.

According to Mars Wrigley, the programme has an 85% retention rate among the micro-entrepreneurs it recruits.

Recently, a ceremony was held in Kenya’s Machakos County to mark the 10th anniversary of Maua and announce the expansion of the programme. Among the special guests were Machakos County Governor, Wavinya Ndeti, the company’s General Manager for Middle East and Africa, Duncan McCulloch, and Mars Wrigley General Manager for Sub-Saharan Africa, Ismael Bello.

“Maua has been a phenomenal success in driving our quest to reach the under-served consumer market while at the same time achieving our social and sustainability goals. Hence, the plan to expand the program in Kenya and the region,” Bello said at the event.

“With Maua, we seek to not only grow our business, but also create a platform to build both financial and social capital, working with individuals who are passionate about business and improving lives. We look forward to the next 10 years of Maua’s transformative impact.” 

The Governor praised the Maua initiative as an inspiring model of how private companies can use innovative strategies to create employment and sustainable livelihoods – especially for women and youth – while supporting the growth of micro- and small-scale enterprises.

“I am particularly delighted to note that four out of 10 beneficiaries of this noble initiative are women. I urge more companies to emulate Wrigley so that together, we can create meaningful livelihood and business opportunities for our people,” she said.