Saturday 23 September 2017

'Secret Millionaire' in €5m deal with Gorta for Kenyan yogurt factory

Nick Webb

Nick Webb

'SECRET Millionaire' Vincent Cleary of Glenisk is teaming up with Gorta to develop a €5m milk factory business in Kenya in a landmark joint venture to produce Kenya's very own version of Glenisk yogurt.

The new strategic partnership will develop a dairy food processing plant in the Rift valley in Kenya, with Gorta stumping up €5m to fund the project in coming years. Glenisk is providing the management smarts and training for local employees with founder Vincent Cleary set to trek out to Kenya for the project. Cleary recently appeared on the RTE hit series, Secret Millionaire.

"It has always been my ambition to help to create a sustainable food business in a developing country. Working with Gorta has presented me with an opportunity to realise this goal. Having developed a business in the agri-food sector over the past 25 years in Ireland, Glenisk is privileged to offer advice and expertise to the community in Keringet at this critical time in their start-up enterprise.

"I will be travelling to Kenya early next year and I hope I will be in a position to announce the start of production on a commercial scale, the creation of jobs, development of skills and the building of a much-needed sustainable business there," Cleary said.

The joint venture between Ireland's biggest overseas aid organisation, Gorta, and one of the country's best known indigenous food companies is seen as a hugely innovative step to help boost employment and skills in Kenya.

Earlier this year, Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney called for more Irish companies to take part in joint venture schemes with aid organisations. Gorta is investing considerable energy in helping to develop Africa's next business leaders as a means of combatting poverty.

The move by Glenisk is a remarkable step for a company that was set up in 1987 with just one paid employee.

Offaly-based Glenisk now employs 50 staff and works with 50 small family farms to source milk for their range of organic and goats milk dairy products.

Writing as the RTE Secret Millionaire show aired, Cleary downplayed his fortune. "It's such a secret that I'm a millionaire that it came as news to my wife, my family, my friends, my bank manager and, most of all, to me. I did a quick inventory: hefty mortgage, check; second-hand car, check; leaky 70-year-old roof, check; no holidays this year, check; €1m bank balance . . . eh, no!

"When I was invited to take part, wrestling with the programme's title was my biggest challenge. Despite my protestations, the producers . . . were adamant that the title couldn't be changed . . .After all, who would recognise or be interested in watching the Secret Benefactor? I decided that the opportunity to do some good was too important to pass up. I've had this great plan to change the world . . . but it's now 17 years in the making. It was now or never, so I signed up."

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