The Wood Foundation Africa is applying its transformational venture philanthropy model from the Rwandan and Tanzanian tea industries to the sugar sector in Kenya.

There are 300,000 smallholder farmers contributing to Kenya’s sugar sector, supporting an additional 6 million people with employment opportunities in the country. It is an important cash crop and a key input in the food system. However, it has been faced by several challenges that have stunted smallholder farmers’ productivity and incomes.

The eight-year investment is a partnership with Transmara Sugar Company, focussed on smallholder and outgrower empowerment, and will support the existing 17,000 farmers working with the Transmara Sugar Company, as well as 7000 new farmers.

Transmara Sugar Company is the second largest private sugar company in Kenya with a factory capacity of 1.2 million tonnes of sugar cane. It is 100% smallholder-supplied and has committed to smallholder expansion and farmer training to maximise yields from existing and new fields.

The Transmara Sugar Programme will focus on the Kilgoris and Transmara region in the south west of Kenya and will develop an additional 6000 hectares (Ha) hectares of new sugar cane through a joint investment programme. All farmers will receive patient finance, training, and extension support to increase yields and income, with Transmara Sugar Company committing to buy all the sugar cane produced on fairtrade terms.

The lessons learned from this project will be shared across the sugarcane industry in a bid to improve outcomes for smallholder farmers in Kenya’s sugar industry in order to increase productivity, promote sustainability, support employment and incomes growth, and create opportunities for rural economic development.

13 million

Transmara Sugar in numbers

13 million

6,000 Ha

New sugar cane fields planted

4,000 farmers


Farmers to be supported