The public can now buy into one of the UK’s most diverse distillers. Matugga Distillers Limited, the country’s first Black female-owned distillery, has launched a £300,000 equity crowdfunding campaign.
Matugga Distillers was co-founded by married couple Jacine Rutasikwa and Ugandan-born head distiller Paul Rutasikwa. Jacine, whose grandparents were part of the post-war ‘Windrush’ generation, is regarded as the UK’s first Black female distillery owner. Their decision to pursue crowdfunding is due to the low levels of VC investment Black business owners receive in the UK, which between 2009 and 2019 amounted to just 0.24%.
The Scotland-based distiller seeks £300,000 investment at a pre-money valuation of over £1.2m to help it expand and export globally, grow its team, and purchase additional distillery kits to aid its output.
Through the funding, Matugga Distillers aims to become a “cane to cask” producer and one day develop a sugarcane plantation in Uganda. Currently based in Livingston, Scotland, the brand is one of the first UK companies to produce rums from scratch. Since its foundation, they have mostly relied on self-financing, but the new crowdfunding campaign will help support its next stage of growth.
Through their two rum products, Matugga and Liv, the founders combine Scottish distilling skills with “their proud African and Caribbean roots.” The pair said Matugga’s products experienced great demand during lockdown; however, the market for UK rum was growing significantly even before the pandemic began, by 37% in just two years from 2019, culminating in a staggering £1.3bn valuation in 2021.
Jacine said: “When starting a business, Black entrepreneurs, female entrepreneurs and particularly Black female entrepreneurs face huge barriers and often struggle to get to the next phase for several reasons – whether its access to finance, networks, education or mentorship.
“There are still, sadly, systemic inequalities and individual and institutional biases at play. But we’re lucky that since moving to Scotland, we’ve encountered a highly supportive community who value our craftsmanship and are as excited about our growth plans as we are.
“It’s not very often that you see Black-owned businesses on equity-based crowdfunding platforms, and we’re looking forward to launching our campaign to the general public. It’s an exciting time for our distillery, and we’re inviting rum lovers to back our business and help us take Scottish rum worldwide.”
On their success so far and their product offering, she added: “We can’t keep up, we’ve sold more than 25,000 bottles already, but our distillery is now at full capacity. The rum market is ready for disruption. While the UK craft rum category is relatively new, we’re producing some of the most adventurous and unique rum expressions available anywhere in the world. Hardly any major retailers stock locally made craft rum, but the appetite is there, so we need to think big to be ready to meet that opportunity.”