The co-founder of a rum distillery criticized the “enormous barriers” black women face in business as she launched a campaign to help her company secure the investment it needs to expand.
Jacine Rutasikwa is believed to be the UK’s first black woman distillery owner after establishing Matugga Distillery in Livingston, West Lothian with her husband Paul.
It has now launched the distillery’s first crowdfunding campaign, with the aim of raising £300,000, which would go towards expanding its team and buying additional equipment so the distillery can increase production.
The distillery is operating at “full capacity”, she said, revealing how the company plans to become a “cane in barrel” producer by setting up its own sugarcane plantation in Uganda, her husband’s country of origin.
When starting a business, Black entrepreneurs, women entrepreneurs, and in particular Black women entrepreneurs face enormous barriers
Mutagga Distillers MD Jacine Rutasikwa
Ms Rutasikwa, whose grandparents were part of the post-war Windrush generation who emigrated from the Caribbean to the UK, said that while there were “barriers” to running a business as a black woman, they had found a “very supportive community” in Scotland. .
Matugga managing director said: “When starting a business, Black entrepreneurs, women entrepreneurs and in particular Black women entrepreneurs face enormous barriers and often struggle to get to the next stage for a number of reasons, be it access to finance, networks, education. or tutoring.
“There are still, unfortunately, systemic inequalities and individual and institutional biases at play.
“But we are lucky that since moving to Scotland we have found ourselves with a very supportive community that values our craft and is as excited about our growth plans as we are.”
He continued: “It’s not very often that you see Black-owned businesses on equity-based crowdfunding platforms and we can’t wait to launch our campaign to the general public.
“It’s an exciting time for our distillery and we’re inviting rum lovers to support our business and help us bring Scottish rum to the world.”
Meanwhile, Rutasikwa, the main distiller, said the company had “substantial links with Uganda” and was seeking to “support the livelihoods of sugarcane farmers in East Africa.”
He said: “With this in mind, we are developing a sugar cane plantation on our family land in Matugga that will employ and train local farm workers.
“By harvesting cane from our land and turning it into high-quality distilling molasses, we will become a producer of ‘cane to cask’ rum.”