Kenyan start-up inches closer to share the US $1m Chivas Venture Fund

Jonah Waithaka from Green-Nettle Textiles wins local heat of the Chivas Venture 2020 and will now represent Kenya at the US $1m Global Final

The Green-Nettle Textiles team holds the Global Change Award they won in 2019

A social enterprise is preparing to go head-to-head in a series of spirited pitches with 25 of the hottest start-ups from around the world.

Dubbed Green-Nettle Textiles, the enterprise was founded a Kenyan -Jonah Waithaka. It won the Kenyan final of the Chivas Venture – a global competition from leading blended Scotch whisky Chivas that gives away US $1 million in no-strings funding every year to social businesses that blend profit and purpose to have a positive impact on the world.

“Stinging nettles are often considered a menace. When people think nettles, they think itching or irritation; when we think nettles, we think an exciting alternative to conventional fabric. We at Green-Nettle Textiles can’t wait to show the Chivas Venture judges our creative, forward-thinking approach to making fashion more sustainable,” said Jonah Waithaka.

Green-Nettle Textiles creates sustainable fashion using nettle stalks. By converting the nettle stalks into a linen-like fabric, they have created an eco-fabric out of natural materials, rather than synthetics. Through their project ‘Sustainable Sting’, Green-Nettle Textiles engages local communities to establish stinging nettle plantations on non-arable steep slopes.

Jonah Waithaka, will now embark on the journey of a lifetime that will put his business to the test on a global scale. In the run-up to the Global Final in June, the 26 social entrepreneurs will travel to London to take part in a three-day accelerator programme – providing exposure to experts and industry professionals, and a range of networking opportunities. The entrepreneurs will engage in one-on-one coaching sessions, taking their businesses to the next level and ensuring a pitch-perfect performance.

Last year’s winner, Javier Larragoiti, founder of Mexico’s Xiliant, said; “Taking part in the Chivas Venture has been an unbelievable and life-changing experience for me and my business; to see all my years of hard work and belief in my product shared on a global scale was a dream come true. The competition has provided Xilinat with a global platform and the funding to change the course of the sugar industry forever…pretty sweet, right?”

Chivas believes in blending ambition with generosity and in using success to enrich the lives of others – a belief instilled by founding brothers, James and John Chivas, who shared their success with their local community as their business grew. Two centuries later, the Chivas Venture champions these values – to date, the competition has positively impacted over 2 million lives, thanks to the US $5m that Chivas has awarded to social businesses around the world.

Just as Chivas champions the perfect blend of malt and grain whiskies in its Scotch, the Chivas Venture champions entrepreneurs who blend profit and purpose to have a positive impact on the world. Find out more about the Chivas Venture and why blending profit and purpose is better at 


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