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How to reduce cash flow problems in your small business

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Cash flow problems are always there in small businesses especially those that are not yet established something that may end up causing their collapse even before they enjoy their first birthdays.

Most researches that have been conducted around the issue among many small business owners indicate that one of the greatest bothers is how to manage cash flow in the businesses.

In fact, most small business owners have been found to be confusing profits of the business and other cash that flow within the business leading to bad debts and lack of cash to reinvest into the business.

According to Victor Agolla, managing director at Viffa Consult Limited, a Nairobi-based consultancy firm on business operations, late payments by customers who take goods or access services on credit is one key issue affecting smooth cash flow within a business.

“Late payments compound cash flow management problems and this can even cause the loan market becoming expensive and unsustainable and eventually poor decision making on the future of the business,” said Victor.

Another cause of poor cash flow management in a business is the appetite for taking goods on credit and defaulting by some customers and lying on their financial status then stay for a long time before paying.

Some of these customers, says Victor, are very repulsive when business owners start becoming strict and insisting on cash payments.

“This has been a common challenge across the board but a smart approach to it is what creates the difference.”

So how can business owners manage this problem and keep their operations on course? Some of the following insights may help:

Sell less on credit and employ a pay-on-cash policy. As a business operator, always ensure that goods or services you offer are on cash limiting credit chances only to VERY trustworthy customers.

This may not go well with some customers but for the sake of the business, some tough decisions have to be made at some point.

Open several business accounts. Depending on the size of your business, it is encouraged to try having several business accounts such as a revenue account for the money coming into the business, an account that deals in paying creditors, a savings account, recurring expenditure and reinvesting account.

These will ensure you do not spend business money wrongly.

Diversify your sources of income. As a business person, always find other means of earning by opening other businesses alongside to help increase your revenue streams.

This is important when one business is doing badly, the other may bail it out and keep operations running.

Strictly abide by the basic budget. This is important though you can always allocate an emergency fund to avoid any future complications as it is believed that the lack of proper planning represents a central problem that affects business growth, profitability and sustainability.

Insist on full or deposit payments. If you are dealing with the delivery of goods or services, for instance, always ask customers to pay something upfront depending on your business policy or agreement with the customer. The deposit can be half the full cost so that once the good or service is offered, the full amount does not become an issue.

Seek external funding. Sometimes you may put all measures in place but cash flow management will always exist. In this case, it is advisable to look for external funding to keep you going. After all, businesses require some external funding at some point and banks are the first option for many.


Agripreneur Blog

How to grow and earn Sh1M net income from half an acre of turmeric in nine months

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Agriculture has been touted as the next frontier in Africa and choosing to grow a high value but the less cultivated crop in Kenya like turmeric makes it a very profitable venture for farmers.

Known as the golden spice of life, turmeric is slowly spreading its roots in East Africa, with Uganda taking the lead in cultivation.

According to Mr Oliver M. Ndegwa, the CEO of Madvisory Africa and lead Technical Engineer at Agrotunnel International, there has been little uptake of the crop by farmers due to an information gap.

“We import most of the turmeric consumed in the country because many farmers lack information and quality seeds, despite the huge local and international market,” said Ndegwa.

Due to its high economic value, Ndegwa has since founded Turmeric Kenya Ltd to mobilise farmers to grow the spice.

“We have started with the latest CIM PITAMBER turmeric variety from India which is at the multiplication stage,” said Ndegwa

The variety also has curcumin (the highly needed anti-inflammatory compound) of 12.5 per cent, the highest yield also of 2.5MT per half an acre, early maturity of 180-190 days and has wet to dry conversion rate of 22 per cent.

Other varieties include Swarna, Sudarshana, Suguna, BSR 1, Krishna, Rajendra Sonia, BSR 2, Allepy finger turmeric, Ranga and Waigaon among others.

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Growing turmeric 

For successful production and marketing, the following conditions and requirements should be met.

Climatic requirements

Generally, the crop requires a tropical climate with a heavy rain period, which is followed by a hot dry spell. It requires 1,000mm-2,000mm of rainfall annually and an altitude of 1,500m above sea level making it an ideal crop for many regions in Kenya and extensively, East Africa. 

It is a warm-season crop that thrives in humid climatic conditions and can be grown in a shade.   Ideal temperatures are between 20°C -35°C. It does well in organically rich, well-drained loamy soils with a pH of 4.5-7.5Farmers whose soils have a high pH can lower it by applying compost manure, while low PH can be increased be applying calcium carbonate. 

Selecting turmeric planting materials

This is a very critical part and a farmer can go wrong just by picking the wrong planting materials. 

“Farmers must avoid walking into the market to buy fresh turmeric rhizomes splits for direct planting as this can lead to a long wait before sprouting. This is because the dormancy period of the seed materials lasts for three months,” advises Ndegwa.

Instead, they should source clean planting materials from certified individual nurseries or government seed merchants like KALRO. 

The seed material from mother or finger rhizomes should be cut into pieces 4-5cm long with 1-2 buds. However, mother rhizomes are most preferred as they give over 50 per cent more yields compared to finger rhizomes.

Land preparation

Requires about 8 tonnes farmyard or compost manure per half an acre. The manure should be broadcasted and then dug into 35-40cm depth during ploughing. 

This is followed by harrowing and just before planting, beds of 1.0-1.5m wide, 15cm height should be made at a space of 50cm from each other in readiness for planting.

Planting

Just like ginger, turmeric is planted whole or split either as mother or finger rhizomes of 40-50g in weight. 

For a farmer who wants to use finger rhizomes, mature and healthy ones are preferred though according to experts, mother rhizomes are the best-placed planting materials for good production.

Before planting, make ridges and furrows of 45-50cm on the beds.

When planting, seed rate depends on a variety of factors such as soil type, planting system and weight of rhizomes and turmeric variety

It’s recommended to plant sets on ridges of 25-30cm apart, 15-30cm within rows and at a depth of 5-10 cm. With sufficient water, the shoot starts appearing after 10-15 days and will continue over a period of four to eight weeks.

About 1,000kg mother or finger rhizomes are required for planting an acre while a seed rate of 2,500kg and 2000kg of mother and finger rhizomes respectively are required to plant 1ha of land.

In case of intercropping which can be done with crops such as chilli, onions, French beans, coconut, eggplant and maize, 400-500kg of rhizomes are required.

Irrigation

the crop requires a litre of water per crop per week during dry season but this can be reduced by half if vertical farming is done.

Manure and fertiliser application

Apply 16 tonnes of well-decomposed farmyard manure during land preparation. For fertiliser, apply NPK at a ratio of 30:12:12 kilos per half an acre Top-dress a month later with UREA at 12.2kg per ½ acre. Weeding should be done when needed.  However, four to five weeding sessions are recommended.

Pests and diseases

Turmeric is affected by pests such as thrips, rhizome scales, nematode pests, and shoot. Borers and diseases such as leaf blotch, leaf spot, leaf blight, root not and rhizome rot. Root-knot nematodes can wipe out the entire crop population if not prevented or controlled in time,” reveals Ndegwa. Seek professional assistance on seeing any sign of disease or pests.

Harvest and post-harvest handling

Happens in seven to eight months for early maturing, and eight to nine months for medium maturing varieties. Harvest when leaves begin turning yellow and drying up. 

Cut leaves close to the ground and gather the rhizomes by hand or use a spade to carefully lift clumps to avoid damaging the rhizomes. Rhizomes are cured by leaving them for a day to wilt. 

Ensure this is done within two to three days of harvesting. Just before curing, separate the mother from the finger rhizomes and clean them up. Remember, you can realise an average yield of 10 to 15 tonnes per acre of green turmeric.

Post-harvest preservation

This involves boiling in a covered pot filled with three-quarters of water for 45 to 60 minutes, drying, and then polishing of the rhizomes by manual or mechanical rubbing to make them smooth and appealing. Remember to leave your boiled rhizomes indoors for about a day before sun drying for 10 to 15 days. You can preserve some rhizomes for seeds for at least 15 days by storing them in pits and covering them with sawdust or sand.

 

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After polishing, your turmeric is ready for the market. A finger of a rhizome of about 11cm retails at Ksh20 in Nairobi and the price is higher in the international markets.

Investment and production

Though the costs of raising half an acre can be regarded as quite high at between Sh175,000 to Sh200,000 for seeds, water, manure, and labour the returns are sweet

Currently, a kilo fetches Sh200 to Sh400, depending on variety and demand.

A half an acre can yield up to 7,5000 kilos of wet turmeric rhizomes, 5,000 kilos when dry and going with Sh250 average price per kilo, this will translate to Sh1,875,000 sold dry or Sh1,250,000 when wet.


Agripreneur Blog business

Covid19-created businesses that promise lifeline for jobless Kenyans

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Covid-19 effects have been felt everywhere and by every person something that has led to the loss of many livelihoods by many Kenyans as a result of job and salary cuts.

To note is the disrupted supply chain of goods due to measures that were put in place by the government to curb the spread of the disease.

These measures have seen markets lack various essential products due to lack of production by local manufacturers who, however, have started increasing manufacturing of the goods whose supply were greatly affected as they depend on international trade.

Some of these vital products include personal protective equipment (PPEs), face masks and sanitisers which are still in high demand and which the country usually imports but are now produced locally.

This move which is the potential Kenya and Africa has, presents various opportunities that many supply businesses can develop.

One such business is wholesale buying and supplying of face masks to shop and individuals who sell them at markets, bus stages and busy pathways.   

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At the moment, according to the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and Enterprise Development, as of 29th June 2020, there are about 113 registered companies that are involved in the manufacturing of different face masks in the country.

This has resulted in the availability of a wide range of masks at competitive prices. However, one of the most common brands is a 3ply disposable face mask that goes at as low as Sh220 per box of 50 pieces by most online shops. 

If sourced directly from manufacturers by bulk buyers, the box can cost much less. 

Going with Sh220 a box, you can buy about 20 such boxes at Sh4,400 and sell at Sh250 a box getting Sh30 per box translating to Sh600 profit a day just for a start. With time as the business picks and as you acquire loyal customers, you can trade in other brands like KN95 masks, premium branded masks for kids and adults.

This is much more than a casual labourer at industrial areas or construction sites who, in the majority, earn between Sh300-500 a day.

Some Kenyans have also found business opportunities in homemade sanitisers which are then hawked at events, in matatus and other crowded places like markets.

Currently, these products are still central in the fight against Covid-19 disease as they are used when people cannot hand wash hence making it a moving commodity.

Glycerol is the main raw product used in making these types of sanitisers. A 100-ml bottle of homemade sanitiser go for 50 shillings and one can make as many as they can provide the raw material is available and then the products are supplied to hotels, matatus, churches and shops.

Alternatively, one can source the products from the many companies in the country that are now making them and supply them to the same places.

These are some of the businesses that one can never go wrong by investing in as they deal in products of the moment.


Blog business Learning

Business ideas you can actualise with Sh5,000 and below

Business ideas you can actualise with Sh5,000 and below

Since Kenya confirmed its first COVID-19 case in March 2020, a lot have happened but remarkably the rate at which the economy slumped leading to many job losses and empty pockets.

It is now dawning at many Kenyans that the best job where one can feel secure is self employment which mostly comes from starting and running a business and earning a living from the business.

Nevertheless, starting a business at the moment when the effects of the pandemic are still within can be challenging hence there is need to look for a business idea which will need a small capital to begin after all, world over, the greatest businessmen and women started small but with a view of improving step by step.

In Kenya, there are a number of business opportunities worth trying and which require as little as Sh3,500 to start and with enough room to expand because no one would like to remain with a small business all time.

Some of the businesses that you can start and grow to the level of your desire:

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Perfume refilling

Fashion is becoming a necessity in our urban areas and many people who invest in this area cannot go wrong.

Today, many people would like to look trendy not only in their adornments but also on how they smell around and here is where you can invest in and find some good income.

You do not need to make your own perfumes for it can be expensive for a starter due to the ingredients needed but buy from some companies where you can get the products at some cheaper price.

The amount of capital needed to start the business will depend on how many different fragrances you want to start with. Starting with 10 or 20 different fragrances helps one start with a wide variety.

However, you can start with as low as Sh3,500 which can purchase you a stock of three different fragrances, display bottles, 2 dozen of 3ml and a dozen of 6ml refill bottles.

You do not need to own a shop with this kind of business but identify some few customers whom you will supply from time to time as you grow your consumer base. Luckily with the perfumes, if your choices are good, these first customers will draw more.

Good wholesalers will also advice you on the most popular fragrances as per the market trends.

Your expected profit margins:

You can buy the fragrance at Sh15 per ml and sell at between Sh33-50 per ml depending on your location. So, with the minimum of Sh33 you have a gross profit margin of Sh33-15=18 per ml.

 

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Selling African beadwork

Beads are among the most intriguing and important symbols in the African culture. With time, however, and the cultural exchange around the world, bead workmanship has been evolving to suit the market demands.

Since the practice of bead production and their sale has been a major source of income, many people have flooded production level leaving a niche at marketing level and here is where you can fit should you have some marketing skills that you can display.

You can start by buying readymade items to resell. If you decide to start from scratch, then you will need skills and supplies.

In this approach, the materials are relatively cheap. It will bring more profit but will consume more time. Alternatively, you could decide to buy ready-made products and resell them.

There’s Kariokor market in the outskirts of Nairobi where you can buy such products in bulk. Beautiful neck pieces that retail at Sh1,000 in the city centre can be found in Kariokor for Sh250- Sh400.

 

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Supplying liquid soap to professional cleaning businesses

Starting a liquid soap business is easy. However, you’ll have to learn how to make soap at home. It’s easy.

Some of you must have been taught this using sunflower oil, coconut oil, potassium hydroxide – KOH, distilled water, boric acid, essential oil, and dye.

All these cannot even cost Sh1000 and you could make many litters of soap from the materials for sale.

A litre of such soap goes for Sh50 and you can sell up to 250 liters or even more especially during weekends earning a tidy sum. 


Agripreneur Blog

Dorper sheep breeding, highly profitable venture worth investment

Many farmers in Kenya are increasingly considering rearing the Dorper sheep breed over the indigenous breeds like the Red Maasai sheep due to the breed’s superior characteristics such as adaptability to various harsh environmental conditions and its resistance to diseases.

While most farmers rear the breed commercially for its highly sought-after meat, many have ignored the breeding aspect that is even highly profitable given the rash by farmers to keep the breed.

In fact, according to Animal Genetic Training Resource (AGTR), the breed makes a huge contribution to mutton production worldwide hence the need for more breeding services to satisfy the growing demand from farmers and consumers.

Despite Dorper sheep’s long breeding season which is not seasonally limited and that lambs can be dropped at any time of the year, there are few breeders in Kenya making the venture of good returns.

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According to Jeremiah Sein, Dorper Sheep Breeders Society of Kenya treasurer there are only a handful of breeders in the Rift Valley region who are registered and licensed by the society.

“The importance of registering and licensing our members is to help in data keeping which further helps us in avoiding inbreeding of the animals,” said Sein.

Most breeders prefer producing and raising rams which they sell out to farmers for breeding instead of letting ewes from other farmers into their farms. This is to avoid the spread of diseases.

A fully grown pure Dorper ram ready to serve, costs Sh45,000 higher than that of a fully grown ewe which is Sh25,000 while a cross with indigenous breed sell at Sh15,000-20,000 for a ram and Sh10,000 for a ewe.

Now, given the lambing interval is about eight months, on average a Dorper ewe can produce over two lambs on an annual basis.

This means that a farm with about 50 Dorper sheep; 30 ewes and 20 rams (a good ratio for breeding purposes) will have approximately 110 sheep at the end of the year.

Dorper lamb can reach a live weight of about 36 kg at the age of 3-4 months. At this stage, a ram goes for not less than Sh10,000.

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For Hezron Kiprono, a Dorper sheep farmer from Mogotio in Baringo County, he can sell up to 20 fully grown rams for breeding in a year earning him about Sh400,000 on an upper estimate.

Currently, the farmer who started with 10 ewes now has over 60 sheep. He spends Sh2,000 every three months on deworming, Sh250 per week to buy acaricides and veterinary consultations costs him Sh1,000.

He has also teamed up with other two Dorper sheep farmers in the area and formed the Kisanana Dorper Breeders Society, a platform they use to exchange rams for breeding purposes and also sell their sheep to other farmers.

He says, selling a ram for breeding is much profitable than selling it for meat since he sells a fully grown ram ready to serve at Sh20,000.

The same ram when estimated in terms of meat yield will sell at Sh14,000 given such a ram can produce about 40 kilos of meat in six months which goes ta Sh350 per kilo.

Fortunately for Kenyan breeders and farmers is that Dorper ewes register a 10% twining rate, 78% lambing (fertility) rate, average birth weight of 3.6kg, pre-weaning lamb growth and mortality rates of 178g/day and 14%, respectively.


Agripreneur Blog

Tharaka Nithi farmer bets on relay planting for steady income

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Climate change and unpredictable weather patterns are slowly causing poor productivity or sometimes loss of entire crop hence the need for substantial changes in farming practices.

Gone are the days when farmers use to do excessive tillage that has been associated with continued land degradation resulting in productivity problems.

In addition, farmers especially those growing horticulture crops no longer wait to fully harvest their first crops as they can intercrop the second crop after the first one has completed its development in what is called relay cropping.

It is this farming practice that Paul Mpanda Mboiro, a horticulture farmer from Igamba Ng’ombe, Tharaka Nithi County has been involved in since 2018 September when he started commercial production of tomatoes, watermelons, kales and sweet potatoes within his five acres piece of land.

Tomato being his key crop, he ensures that he divides his farms well in that while one portion is being harvested, the other has plants at the flowering stage and while there are some seedlings in the nursery, others are just transplanted to the seedbed.

“This way,” says Mpanda, “I am always harvesting and selling the produce all year round making a steady income just like those in formal employment.”

 

He learned this style of farming way back in 2015 when he was a trader of fresh produce at Kongowea Market in Mombasa County where he used to source tomatoes among other crops directly from farmers and take them to the market.

“During the time, I noticed that there were som90e farmers who always had tomatoes from their own farms to sell and when I required, they were free to share their double-cropping technique,” said Mpanda.

So, he decided to try distance farming which could not work because those whom he put in charge became insincere prompting him to retire home in Makanyanga village, Tharaka Nithi County in 2018 August to focus on crop production.

His first tomatoes which he planted on half an acre in September that year was his source of motivation.

He could harvest 2-3 tonnes per week selling at Sh200-300 a kilo. At the end of the season he had over Sh0.5m gross income hence he became determined to increase his production.

 

To avoid repeating the same crop on the same piece of land, he increased the acreage to two, to three then to five overtime. this has since enabled him to practice crop rotation by growing watermelons, sweet potatoes, kales and sometimes maize to discourage the build-up of certain pests and diseases.89

“Maize does not do well here but I just decided to be introducing it into a tomato farm at the time tomatoes which take a short time to mature are getting exhausted, there is something to occupy the space to even reduce the growth of weeds,” said Mpanda.

He also does fish farming having build two large ponds measuring 25×20 feet and 45×40 feet. The ponds have tilapia, mudfish and catfish.

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He harvests the mature ones which he sells at Chuka Fisheries at Sh100-200 a piece or Sh350 a kilo.

Coming as a reprieve for him and other farmers in the area is Makanganga Irrigation Scheme which he says was completed two months ago and farmers have already started benefiting from the free water by the Ministry of Agriculture.

Confident that the scheme will see them through the dry season, Mpanada is currently selling his last tomato harvests from half an acre while there are others already flowering and will soon be ready for market.

“I am sure that by May I will be planting others so that I do not run out of the produce at any point in time,” he said.


Agripreneur Blog business Entrepreneurial Stories

Birds sanctuary increasingly becoming an economic target for most entrepreneurs

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In the recent past, Kenya has been one of the leading countries in Africa for tourism destinations given its wildlife and natural attraction sites.

Indeed, Kenya is the third-largest tourism economy in Sub-Saharan Africa after South Africa and Nigeria and that the sector contributes Sh790 billion and 1.1 million jobs to the country’s economy, according to the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife.

Entrepreneurs are now taking advantage of this to invest in birdlife in a bid to attract tourists for cash besides protecting the sheer abundance and variety of beautiful birds.

One such entrepreneur is Geoffrey Maranga, currently the manager of Stedmak Gardens, a recreational centre that hosts a birds’ sanctuary with over 30 different species of beautiful birds.

According to Maranga, other than using the birds to attract tourists, they also preserve them for breeding purposes and the two purposes have seen the centre earn about Sh1m annually.

“We started in 2013 when we used to keep these birds just to multiply them, but of late it is one of our major business projects here,” he said.

The centre which is located along Mokoyeti Road East 500 metres off Langata Road is currently home to over 500 birds that attract nature lovers.

For domestic tourists, they charge Sh300 for adults and Sh200 for children while international adult tourists pay Sh1000 and Sh500 for children.

“We receive between 250 and 350 visitors a day and the number most of the time go up during weekends. We also experience up to 1000 visitors per day in festive seasons,” said Maranga. 

According to Rongers Ong’ondo, assistant birds park manager, some of the birds within the centre include French Mondain, Greylag goose, Strasser Pigeon, Indian Fantail Pigeon, Budgerigar,  Saddle Fantail Pigeon, Saxon Shield Owl Pigeon, Ugandan Cranes, Reverse Wings Pouter, Pekin bantam, Jersey Giant, Jacob Lion Head Pigeon, Leghorn, and guinea fowls among others.

“We sell a pair of African grey parrots at Sh70,000 while a single such parrot fetches Sh40,000, a pair of Australian cocktail is Sh30,000 while a single cocktail is bought at Sh20,000 just to sample a few,” said Ongóndo.

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He says, Australian cocktails if managed well can live for over 25 years while African grey parrots can go up to 40-50 years.

For Jagi Gakunju, an avid naturalist from Nyeri County in central Kenya, he had to clear a coffee plantation in 1986 to build a birds’ sanctuary after inheriting the 20 acres of land from his father.

After clearing the coffee plants, indigenous trees started growing and today, there is a massive fig tree and the area is surrounded by lush vegetation, a home for various birds’ species which have become an attractive destination for people who visit the region.

He has since named it Wajee Park, currently recognized by Birdlife International 

as an Important Bird Area, a collective of global conservation groups.

“Currently, we have over 120 birds species such as African green pigeons, montane white-eyes, the green-backed honeyguide and African wood owls and more,” said Gakunju.

The park also attracts migrant African birds such as the black cuckoo shrike and the African pygmy kingfisher, and species from Europe like the Blackcap, Willow Warbler and Eurasian Bee-eater.

They are a good display especially in the morning for most visitors who frequent the area and it has become a big economic venture that Gakunju says he never thought about at the beginning.

“When I started growing trees in this area no one including myself knew it would have turned out to be one of the nicest places frequented by both local and foreign visitors,” he said.

Indeed, this is a venture that anyone can easily start just like with poultry. All you need is a natural set-up where the bids will find their home. 

 


Agripreneur Blog

Information sharing Scaling up Meru Agro- entrepreneur’s Production and Income

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Before 2019, Lucy Kaari, an agro-entrepreneur from Tigania West in Meru County was just a voluntary worker at Makandi Community Based Organisation (CBO) earning Sh5,000 a month from sales of farm produce.

However, her life would soon change thanks to FarmtoMarket Alliance (9FtMA) program by Kuza Biashara in collaboration with the Cereal Growers Association (CGA) which seeks to help farmers from production to marketing of their farm produce.

The program has turned her into an Agribusiness Advisor (AA) since early last year when she attended FtMA training workshop in Meru Town where she was trained on how to start an agribusiness, market knowledge, farm budget development, record keeping, accessing financial help, managing cash flow and credit and savings through SACCOs among others.

“After training I went back to the CBO where I had some leadership role and I showed the members new skills of doing farming I learnt. In the next season, I was pleased to witness all of my members in especially women becoming my farmers,’’ said Kaari.

She says she started with just 150 farmers from the CBO but in a record of one-year period, the mother of four has already increased the number to 500 owing to her freewill to share the knowledge she has with the members.

Other than lacking business skills, Kaari also faced a lack of enough capital venture into agribusiness at the beginning.

 Nevertheless, her first sorghum production last year around July where she realised 10 bags of 100 kilos each which she sold at Sh32 a kilo gave her a good starting point in the business.

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‘’I am very grateful because FarmtoMarket Alliance program has been able to like me and other farmers with financiers and seed companies among other partners who help us from farm to the market,’’ she said.

Today, Kaari who owns 2.5 acres of land in Mbeu Ward, Meru County is growing maize and sorghum on a rotational basis.

In a season, she is able to harvest 15 90kg bags of maize which she sells at Sh3,000 per bag and 10 100kg bags of sorghum which goes at Sh32 per kilo.

In this, she makes about Sh77,000 per season out of the two crops. She also owns an agro vet where she is able to reach out to farmers with subsidised farm inputs and training.

‘’When I am not in the field visiting or working on my own farm, I always run the agrovet which I can say has broken the long-chain the inputs had to follow to reach the farmers hiking the prices,’’ said Kaari.

She says the agrovet rakes her about Sh20,000 a month. 

In addition to the agrovet which FtMA program has enabled her run effectively, she is also a sorghum aggregator working with Safaricom’s DigiFarm to collect all the produce from her farmers and collect them at one place where they are then bought.

To her, success is when she will have her own logistics system in place to ease her transport of farm produce, have her own store built on a piece of land she has already bout to cut on her rental costs and bring together more farmers and be able to help them transform their lives.

‘’Since the time I was a volunteer, I have never wanted to see my fellow farmers suffer for lack of knowledge. I would like to see their lives transform just like mine.’’

The registered CGA farmer says that the door is still open to all who would like to join or help them in whatever way possible to grow even stronger.


Blog business

Some internet-based businesses you can start with little or no capital

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Starting a business is generally a leap of faith as there is no guarantee that customers or clients will come for your goods or services but, again, it is a step worth taking. After all, no one is born with business acumen, most of the things are learnt on the go.

The absence of capital should never stop you from dreaming, there are so many businesses that can be started with practically no money.

And the following online businesses ideas can be your best bet:

 

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Social media management

Many companies get overwhelmed by the amount of work required to keep their social media pages active and if you have some experience in running social media pages, you can approach such firms and have a deal.

Some tasks of a social media manager include posting regularly, increasing the number of page followers, engaging with users, etc. 

You can find clients by simply reaching out to various companies to see if they would be interested in your services.

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Ghost-writing

A ghostwriter is a person who is hired to write a book, speech, article, song and many other forms of written content on behalf of a company or another person who takes credit as the author.

Ghost-writing is a fantastic business opportunity for people who are good with words. A short book that would take about 6 weeks to write can earn you up to around Sh1,000,000.

 

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Data entry

Data entry is another fantastic business opportunity you can start with no capital whatsoever. 

You can find work by either reaching out to small businesses to pitch your services or by advertising on online freelancing platforms.

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Tax preparation and bookkeeping

If you’re good with numbers, you can offer your services to small businesses as a tax preparer or a bookkeeper. 

The great thing about such a business is that clients will be paying you on an ongoing basis, it’s not a one-off service (particularly bookkeeping).

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Editing, proofreading and beta reading

If you are great at catching typos and grammatical errors, editing or proofreading other people’s work can be a great side hustle for you.

Similar to editors, beta readers are people whose job is to read and critique other people’s unpublished writings. Fiction writers use them a lot before publishing new books.

A great place to find work as an editor, proofreader or beta reader is on freelancing platforms like Upwork, Guru and Freelancer.

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Virtual assistance

Virtual assistants are self-employed people who provide technical and administrative assistance to busy individuals through the internet.

It is such an in-demand service, and the advantage is that you get to decide who to work with and how much to charge for your time.

 Some common virtual assistant tasks include bookkeeping, editing reports, data entry, responding to emails, etc. You can find clients on freelancing platforms.

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Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is one of the most common ways to make money online. You simply refer customers to the affiliate companies, and they send you a check for the referral.

The earning potential is limitless as you keep getting paid as long as you keep referring customers. Some high paying affiliate programs include Bluehost, Shopify and ClickFunnels – some paying as high as $100 per referral.


Blog business Entrepreneurial Stories

How passion to serve others birthed a lucrative catering business for former nurse

How passion to serve others birthed a lucrative catering business for former nurse

As a practising nurse in Australia with up to eight years of experience, Michel Alusiola had always felt rewarded when she would lift the spirits of both the sick and their family members by serving them.

During her service, she noticed that one of the things that lifted the spirits of her patients on some days was the type of food that was being served.

“The mood was always good for most of my patients on Tuesday especially when we served hot chocolate and there was always a dip in the mood on beef stew and mashed potatoes day. This pattern fascinated me a lot,” said Alusiola.

Her career took a turn when she had challenges balancing her time between work shifts and being a new mum, she then opted to be a full-time mum and relocated back to Kenya. 

As she took care of her children, she noticed a similar pattern to the one she had experienced with her patients in terms of their mood when it came to preparing meals for them. 

 “My children would get excited and in a good mood before and after some meals and in bad moods when it came to other foods,” said Alusiola.

With her nursing career behind her Ms. Alusiola still had the desire to achieve the same satisfaction she had in the past from serving others and this drove her to start her enterprise PinkPurple a catering service in 2016.

 “I started with no capital, all I had was my kitchen. I received one order and from the down payment made, I started growing my business. I started catering for weddings and private functions during the weekends and then expanded to breakfasts and lunch orders for offices during the week,” said Ms. Alusiola.

PinkPurple started with four to five orders a day and one additional member of staff making small wedding and private function food. As they introduced breakfasts and lunches, the business progressively grew its orders to 15. With its customization of meals and the introduction of dinners PinkPurple currently employs three additional members of staffs and receives 30 to 35 orders a day. 

“I do have a menu but I primarily focus on listening to customers request and tailor-making the meals according to their requests. Once, a customer requested an evening meal with specific servings and he made it a daily routine. From that order, I began doing weekly dinners for customers and it has made a major impact on my catering service,” said Ms. Alusiola.

She says her interest in making weekly dinners was driven by her assessment that most working-class people arrive late from work and find it difficult to prepare proper meals on a daily basis and the cost of eating at restaurants may be high for some people. 

“I had a challenge at the beginning with setting up the rates for the meals at a completive rate to the restaurants but still have the customers enjoy the meals at the comfort of their homes. I decided to range my dishes between Sh250 and Sh350,” she said.

She explains how she sets up her weekly dinners and how she contributes her expertise to the customers’ orders.

“I receive orders at the end of the week with customer specifications on the type of food, the number of servings, and when they want to eat the food in the course of the week. From my experience with patients, I have always believed there is a link between the type of diet someone has and their physical and mental health. There is no superfood for better health so we try to create a whole dietary pattern through the food preparation and inform the client of its importance “said Alusiola

“I make some deliveries on my own to give me an opportunity to engage and receive feedback from my customers. Sometimes I engage courier services such as SafeBoda Kenya and Glovo to make fast deliveries” she added.

Her biggest challenge has been to market her business. With major players seeking the expertise of marketing specialists to promote their food service she still relies on word of mouth and tried to progressively learn how to use some social media platforms.

“I get recommendations from my clients and I keep trying to put video tutorials of the food PinkPurple cooks on social media platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram but I hardly find the time to consistently do the marketing for myself.


Agripreneur Blog

How delaying small farmers’ payments led youth into starting own fresh export company

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Delaying small farmers payments by companies dealing mostly in fresh produce for more than a month leading to the farmers’ worries has been a problem by most growers in the country.

This is the gap in the market that led Eunice Mutua, 35, into starting her own company, Select Fresh Produce Kenya Limited, a company that deals in the export of fresh produce such as pineapples, chickpeas, green grams, groundnuts, and sesame (simsim) among others.  

According to the 2015 GlobalFood report on the Transformation of Global Agri-Food Systems, linking small farmers to global markets through contract farming and other means has become an important policy recommendation aiming to increase farmers’ income and foster rural development.

However, the report further indicates that some of the arrangements involving the small farmers have been reported to lose participants or collapse over time due to a lack of trust in payments among other reasons.

This is one of the main reasons behind Eunice’s decision to finally start her own company in 2014 after working for different companies which gave her the opportunity to interact with farmers of all levels and agro-dealers.

“I had a chance to study what works and what doesn’t when dealing with clients besides knowing how various agro-companies were dealing with farmers. Most of such companies could pay farmers their dues very late, at least a month after produce delivery something which was laming farmers’ production and this was a gap that needed to be filled,” said Eunice.

Nevertheless, her journey was not that easy. Two years after graduating from Banking from Kampala International University in 2004 with a degree in Bachelor of Science, Finance and Banking, she secured her first job with Wells Fargo Limited at Cashing Transit Department between 2006 and 2008.

She then joined PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Kenya as a Strategic Manager in 2009 where she was exposed and discovered most of her business ideas, thanks to the team she worked with and her immediate boss then.

“Other than exposure, I got the chance to interact with many people and made business connections. I learnt some international market regulations and how to source for clients by positioning myself in a way that makes it easy for prospective international traders can spot me,” said Eunice.

After around two years at PwC, she resigned and while she was thinking about the next move she teamed with her sister, Caroline Mutua to start trading in secondhand clothes (mitumba) in Kileleshwa.

 

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“We decided to visit Gikomba Market in Nairobi with Sh2,000 which we used to buy some clothes and took to Kileleshwa estate to sell. That one day we made a gross income of Sh8,000 and we got encouraged to continue in the business saving along,” said Eunice.

After six months, Eunice who is also an MBA Strategic Management graduate from Daystar University joined her father, Mr. Boniface Mutua Musyoki who is an agropreneur and runs a twelve-acre mango farm at Syokimau in Machakos County where they began My choice Company which used to export mangoes.

“I persuaded my father and we started a company to capitalise on the huge and far profiting export market as compared to local markets. We started exporting mangoes to Dubai and we could trade in over 27 tonnes of mangoes a month,” said Eunice.

Exporting mangoes was not that easy as she recalls a case where their partner in the business got away with of money that a client paid upon delivery of the goods only for the partner to claim there was no such payments.

“Sometimes I wonder why some people can be so selfish even on matters like fresh produce export market which is so big that no single person can ever exhaust. However, I have since learnt to help others who want to venture into the business on exports requirements besides connecting them to such 

After one and a half years, Eunice left My Choice Company for her father and brother who changed the name of the company to My Choice Flower Limited majoring in the export of summer flowers, single head roses and spray roses flowers.

She moved on to start Select Fresh Produce of which she is the CEO. The company is currently exporting cereals and fresh produce sourced from different parts of the country especially Machakos , Uganda and Ethiopia.

This has also given her a lot more exposure. In 2016 she got a chance to be part of a Kenyan delegation that went to Ireland for a benchmarking on matters agribusiness and agriculture production in general.

“I was overwhelmingly impressed to be part of the government sponsored team to Ireland. I discovered the country (Ireland) has a lot we can borrow beginning from their agriculture vision to the strategic plan, Foodwise 2020, which we found to be so simple that every citizen in that country including the small-scale farmers can easily master making it easy for implementation.”

Select Fresh Produce Kenya Limited is now exporting its fresh produce to Europe, Netherlands, Ireland, and Middle East countries. The company is also currently looking for avocado farmers to grow the crop on a contract basis as it aims to expand its export reach.

The company invests in training the farmers on how to grow crops to meet international standards and they have trained many farmers who supply then every season.

“Other than the over 8,000 farmers whom I have trained on how to grow the crops for export, I also have connections in Uganda and Ethiopia where I get the produce collected then I export from there. This cuts my transport costs as I do not have to import the goods to Kenya then export again.”

Eunice has so far employed five employees on permanent basis and the other five casually in her company. She also trains on export global gap certification, branding and finding clients.

“I love sharing my experience, market reach and knowledge among other things with people as I believe that by so doing I grow, others grow too and we build a strong economy for our country together,” said Eunice.

 


Agripreneur Blog

Community Based Agribusiness Advisors Turning Meru Peasants into Commercial Farm Producers

Certified potato seeds uplifting Molo farmers to agribusiness stardom

When Kibet Rotich started farming potatoes within a quarter-acre piece of land in Molo, Nakuru County in 2009, the former carpenter had no knowledge about the potential certified seeds in boosting yields.

For one year Rotich, 36, and other 18 youths in the area who had just started trying their luck in potato farming relied on recycled seeds that had no quality output.

In fact, according to the National Potato Council of Kenya (NPCK), despite the various potato seed varieties in the market production of the crop is still low in the country at only seven tonnes per hectare against a potential of 40 tonnes on the same measure of land.

This has been blamed on the shortage of certified potato seedlings and the lack of knowledge about the varieties available and where to source them.

To change this narrative among Rotich’s group members and other growers in the region who were recycling what they have been using, the Ministry of Agriculture in 2010 conducted training for the farmers and since then things have improved.

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“After the training, I decided to source six bags of 50kg potato certified seeds of Shangi variety from Molo’s Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC) at Sh1250 and made sure I planted according to the specifications given,” said Rotich.

He planted these within his quarter piece of plot and after about three months he would start harvesting.

To his surprise, he realised seven big bags of potato which he sold at Sh1,800 each to get Sh12,600 which was double what other farmers who were still stuck with the uncertified seeds got that season.

His good harvest and earnings attracted the attention of the other farmers who started asking him for seeds. This was an opportunity for Rotich to invest in seed multiplication and make more money.

“I started sourcing more certified seeds from Molo to grow and sell other farmers. A kilo of the seeds sells at a constant price of Sh55 -60 in contrast to a kilogram of ware potatoes, which can fetch as low as Sh10,” said Rotich.

In 2011, his network of farmers grew to 25 and another business opportunity came by sourcing potatoes from the growers and transporting to the local markets using a bicycle.

In the following year, following his wide network of farmers, he was picked by the Ministry of Agriculture and German federally-owned international cooperation enterprise, GTZ for more training on ware potato production so that he could in turn teach other farmers.

The training was so beneficial that in 2013, many farmers in the region started increasing the acreage under the crop to between 2-5 acres.

In 2017, because of the increase of members, they decided to form and register Yator community-based organisation with 234 members drawn from several smaller farmer groups in the area.

Other farm input companies such as Syngenta and Yara Kenya started developing interest in the CBO by coming into partnership with the growers. Since then the companies have been providing free training to the farmers and selling to them farm inputs at affordable prices.

 

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“Today, we are able to order farm inputs directly from the manufacturing companies and because they offer free transport for our bulk buying, it has really reduced our production costs,” said Rotich.

As if that is not enough, towards the end of Cereal Growers Association (CGA) trained the farmers in best agronomical practices introducing them in grains production.

In the subsequent year, they diversified into maize production with Rotich as their Agribusiness Advisor (AA) having been registered by CGA as an AA.

The CBO has really advanced since its establishment. Last year, the members bought a half an acre piece of land at Sh150,000 and they have since erected an Sh600,000 well-furnished aggregation centre with officers, stores and washrooms.

Here, the farmers will be collecting their ware potatoes and cereals for the market as well as receiving their farm inputs.

“If it were not for this coronavirus pandemic, we could have already launched it for official use by farmers,” said Rotich.

He is now looking forward to having an improved marketing system where member farmers will be benefiting full profit of their labour.