Sweet & Dried is an emerging dried food enterprise based in Chuka, Kenya. Founder Mercy Mwende established S & D in 2009. Faced with the prospect of searching for work after finishing high school, she brainstormed ideas to create jobs for herself and her friends. Mercy grew up in the eastern region of Mount Kenya where there is an abundance of food, but much of it is lost to spoilage. Thus, traditional jobs of selling fresh produce presented little or no success. After being faced with the challenges of losing fruit that was headed to market because of poor prices and perishability, Mercy asked, "How can we address our losses and fetch better prices in the market?"
Mercy took the initiative to visit the local Ministry of Agriculture office in Chuka, where in passing, she heard about the process of food drying. Taking that snippet of information, she
went out on the internet and researched the process, with Mageria and her building a small food dryer, a mere 1 meter by 70cm, to test out their research. Sweet &
Dried was born, the outcome of desiring a steady job transformed into a dream of creating jobs for the community.
S & D has since become a success story, building their own processing facility, leveraging innovations such as the creation of their own solar food drying equipment, to establish a strong foothold in the increasingly competitive dried food market in Kenya. Mercy, her husband Mageria and their staff have poured their sweat, tears and most importantly their boundless ingenuity in building an enterprise that is prepared to compete in world markets.
Sweet & Dried is more than a business. This enterprise has facilitated Mercy being able to set an example as a woman leading a business. The success of the business has allowed Mercy to attend college, and now she is able to merge her study of community and economic development with an active enterprise, resulting in the steady employment of 20 women who hail from the communities surrounding the S & D processing facility. Additionally, S & D has created a source network of over 400 smallholder farms in the eastern region of Kenya.