SDG Pioneer for Small-to-Medium Enterprises

Catherine Gichungu

CEO, Caly Flora Limited


SDG Pioneer for Small-to-Medium Enterprises

Embracing the superhero within Becoming an SDG Pioneer is like becoming a sustainability superhero, fighting to make our world greener and fairer. What's your special power for this mission?

I am a life-long lover of nature and conservation. This love has fueled the need to make an impact in little ways that inspire others to do the same. I believe that by sharing my humble story, I can awaken others (especially the youth) to be champions of nature. I strongly believe that we are more likely to win the conservation journey if we are driven by sustainability principles, shared knowledge and the ability to learn from each other.

Origin story: Please briefly describe your journey towards becoming an SDG Pioneer.

I am a village girl brought up in rural Kenya (Nyahururu and Nyeri). I joined the University of Nairobi and graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce degree. I grew up in an environment with a lot of indigenous trees and was always very close to my grandparents. My late grandfather had deep knowledge about indigenous trees and shrubs and especially understood their great medicinal value. This exposure to nature and its value at an early age had a tremendous influence that I did not comprehend until later in life. 

Turning passion into purpose: Your SDG Pioneer recognition shines a spotlight on your incredible work. Please explain the work for which you are being recognized as an SDG Pioneer and how your interest in this field developed.

This award recognizes my work promoting sustainable living practices and environmental conservation in Kenya. At Caly Flora, we strongly advocate for growing indigenous trees and enhancing biodiversity through practices such as composting and vermiculture. We also pioneered awareness around the importance of using eco-friendly floral wraps for local flower sales. In addition, our Mizizi Eco circle is at the forefront of conservation for future generations by teaching the young children who will be tomorrow’s nature champions. My sustainability journey started with a story entitled “My Meru Oak Story.” This is the story of an endangered indigenous Kenyan tree. The message of the book shows how we all knowingly or unknowingly damage our planet.

 Every epic tale has its share of challenges: Please share some challenges and battles you've encountered while pursuing your SDG ambitions. 

While growing trees is critical for any country, the demand for indigenous tree seedlings is very low. That is even though they are most suitable for our environment and greatly support the ecosystem. Most customers prefer exotic plants at the expense of indigenous ones, despite some of the harmful effects this has on our biodiversity. The financial sustainability of this venture supporting indigenous trees has been a challenge. 

Accomplishments: As part of your SDG journey, what stands out as the most rewarding? Please describe a moment that made you feel like you were unlocking a new level of impact.

I am always happy to listen to satisfied customers who recommend our garden centre. It is very humbling to watch the children as they learn about nature conservation. I am always inspired by their innocent curiosity. The appreciation and positivity of those who visit us is what keeps us going. When I see these emotions, the work becomes more of a divine calling than a business venture. We are blessed with such a great and dedicated workforce. It gives me great pleasure to see that each and every one of our team members has taken ownership of our sustainability story.

Next chapters: What’s next in your career and journey? Please give us a sneak peek!

I would like to make Caly Flora’s brands Greenit Decors + Mizizi Eco Circle even more well-known so that they can take their rightful place as champions of nature and her conservation.

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