Tell us a little bit about your brand. What products do you sell? What is your ethos?
Wycliffe: Blue Turaco coffee is a farmer-led coffee brand that makes high-quality speciality grade Uganda Robusta coffee. We want to shift the power dynamics in the coffee industry. We are also on a mission to end childhood hunger in Ugandan village schools – each bag of coffee bought will provide two vital lunches for kids within the village schools we work with.
- How easy did you find it to break into the food & drink industry? Did you face any challenges as a black founder?
Wycliffe: I don’t think it’s very easy, in fact, you may have a cool, great product but you will need the help of gatekeepers and they are many. However, although the barriers are high, things were made a lot easier by our involvement in Add Psalt programme, they provided access to amazing retail advisors from top FMCG brands in the UK, Buyers from Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Ocado and Tesco – I got to learn what these buyers are looking for. But as a Black founder, it’s still a little harder as there are very few success stories or networks to tap into.
- Talk us through your journey with AddPsalt. How has the organisation helped you and your brand?
Wycliffe: Personally, the journey with ADDPSALT has been like gaining an MBA, I have learnt so much during this time. Just like during an MBA program, you meet incredible people. For me, I have met and been advised by top FMCG executives who would not normally be easily met. All advisors were generous with their time and happy to help. Others will still be happy to lend a hand asvwe build to scale and launch in various retail partners.
- What needs to change to make the industry more inclusive/accessible to black-owned brands?
Wycliffe: There is no one magic bullet to fix century old roadblocks.
But if I must share a couple of thoughts, firstly, there is a need to level the field a little by making access to resources easier. The majority of the black founders do not have a network of people who have been in FMCG or know a lot of people who can help them with seed investment - Making all these kinds of resources accessible will help address the lack of representation.
I believe organisations like Psalt, are already working on solving these issues. If we can get more young black people into this industry, those coming behind us will have much better chances of succeeding.
- What's one piece of advice you would give to fellow black founders looking to get into the industry?
Wycliffe: My one advice would be to start building, start working on that product or idea – You will have increased your chances by already having a product. Secondly, start building a network of people from who you can learn from.