Category Archives: business

Blog business

How to reduce cash flow problems in your small business

cash_flow_kenya

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 business

Covid19-created businesses that promise lifeline for jobless Kenyans

98

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.   

99

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:

95

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.

 

96

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.

 

97

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 business Entrepreneurial Stories

Birds sanctuary increasingly becoming an economic target for most entrepreneurs

Kuza Blog Header Part 2

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.

Kuza Blog Header Part 2 (1)

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. 

 


Blog business

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

2

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:

 

3

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.

4

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.

 

5

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.

6

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).

7

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.

8

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.

9

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 business

Farming tips: marketing your small farm products

88

You have started your small farm producing wonderful vegetables, herbs, fruits and some value-added products and you are wondering how, where and to whom will you market and sell to.

You are not alone as this is one of the challenges that various producers face; marketing and selling their farm products.

There are various ways in which you can reach consumers but first of all you have to understand the nature of the products you are producing whether they are highly perishable or not. 

This will help you know the urgency you are to treat them in order to reach them to consumers before they go bad and avoid post-harvest losses.

Here are some of the marketing tips:

 

89

Direct farm sales

First you may consider selling your produce directly at the farm via a farm stand or even just from a barn or other structure on your property.

This is more convenience especially if you have built your customer base with traders who know your production cycle and just call in to buy or put orders. You can grow your customer reach during social gatherings by carrying with you samples to show.

In this, you will not have the worry of transport costs not to talk of other eventualities such as failing to sell even after moving the products to the market.

90

Farmers markets

You can easily identify these markets within your farm location and they always happen on a weekly basis. Most often, the markets are staggered through the week, so that farmers can sell at multiple markets.

Lucky enough, the cost of setting a shop in such market centres are not overwhelmingly high for an average farmer.

Alternatively, you can just use a table or a canopy to display your products but if you have your car or a trailer you use for transport, that can also act as your display structure when you reach the market.

Because most of these markets are open-air, you will find that the fee charged is spread through a given season so that you are not charged any money on every market day.

91

Community-supported agriculture (CSA) shares

This is a more structured way of selling your produce directly to consumers than a farm stand. CSA are community supported farming systems where a group of consumers come together to support your farming course for a given season or throughout a given year.

When the produce is ready you commit to supply them on a regular basis, mostly on a weekly plan. 

This strategy is beneficial for both the farmer and the consumer. For the farmer, it gives you time to market your food during off-season before you embark on serious production.

It also helps in lowering your production costs owing the support you get from your consumers whom through the group you get to know better with which foods they like from you.

For consumers, they know and trust the origin of what they eat besides not getting exposed to high food prices by brokers.

Africa_restaurant

Restaurants

Look around, there could be eateries within your locality you can find to sell foods to, not once or twice but regularly by securing a supply tender with them.

In this, you will have to convince them on your reliability and quality of your produce. Strive to know what chefs need and sometimes try them with alternative rare produce for an extra cash.

92

Internet

You may not necessarily need a website but just a social media presence is enough. Ensure that people who see your posts on Facebook, twitter or WhatsApp groups knows how and where to find you.

Be ready to answer their questions as this will boost you reach and possibility to make more sales.

Finally, make sure that you are consistent in your production venture and be in consistent communication with your usual customers so that they can count on you for their regular food supply.

 


Agripreneur Blog business Entrepreneurial Stories

Kiambu youth group creates over Sh100,000 pawpaw production venture

Kiambu youth group creates over Sh100,000 pawpaw production venture

Starting off a serious agribusiness venture is still a challenge for many youth groups in Kenya due to lack of capital and the hustle to access loans from financial institutions has even made it harder as they lack collateral asked for by the institutions.

This has seen only the determined few who have members with passion in agriculture live to push through to realise their life dreams.

One such group is Vineyard Kilimo which comprises of 10 members who were previously into maize production, a venture which just earned them enough to feed their families with nothing left for trading.

“Maize has been a crop that our parents earned a living with but seemingly things have changed, an acre can no longer yield enough and probably it is because of the change in weather conditions caused by climate change,” said Jactone Mwaniki, the group chairperson.

In February 2018, they decided to come together, consolidate whatever capital they had to start producing something else. 

However, what they collected could not measure up to the pawpaw production project they had settled on as there was the setting of the nurseries, buying seeds, and registration fee required.

After looking for a financial boost from people and institutions they knew to no avail, finally, Juhudi Kilimo, a microfinance institution in Kenya granted them their loan request of Sh100,000 to begin the project.

They were then trained by two non-governmental organisations, Solidaridad and Heifer International which impart vital skills to various youth groups on seedlings production and other types of farming in general.

Today, the group has a nursery within a three-acre piece of land located 2km from Ishiara Centre where they have three big pawpaw seedling nurseries each with 2,000 seedlings at the moment.

paw+paw

Beginning last year, they also decided to plant pawpaw fruits within the farm and currently, they have 500 plants in the remaining part of the farm that they have started harvesting.

“We sell a seedling at Sh10 each to local farmers and other growers from other parts of the country who call for their orders before organising transport either through public or courier services for them,” said Mwaninki. 

The group also sells 1,000 kilos of pawpaw fruits of Malkia F1 variety after every two weeks with a kilo going at Sh50.

At the end of this rainy season and if all go well, they are expecting to earn about Sh60,000 from seedlings and at least Sh65,000 from the fruit sales.

This means that every member of the group will have over Sh10,000 in his or her account.

“Depending on our season proceeds, we always withdraw a portion of the money and give to the members for their daily needs while the rest are left in the group’s account for our farming expansions, members savings and our general welfare,”’ said Mwaniki.

The group is now planning to incorporate other fruit seedlings and crops such as mangoes, oranges and apples as they have realised the areas can support the fruits and that there is the ready market being close to Kiambu and Nairobi’s big markets.


Agripreneur Blog business Entrepreneurial Stories

Women groups growing their enterprises by cheap loans

76

In Kenya, for many years women in business especially in the rural areas have had it hard accessing financial support from various financial institutions which see their businesses as more vulnerable to risks.

This, according to experts, has been attributed to women’s limited financial literacy, lack of clarity of bank terms of access and the inability to provide collateral or personal guarantees.

However, things are changing for the better for these women thanks to efforts to train rural women on bookkeeping skills to increase their financial literacy, facilitated workshops to link women-led businesses and financial institutions, such as national and county government affirmative funds, banks and microfinance institutions.

77

Madaraka Self Help Group, for instance, is a group of over 10 women members from Kimutwa in Machakos County who came together after noticing that over-relying on their husbands who are casual workers to win daily bread and other family needs were becoming too much.

From their small casual engagements, the women decided to form joint saving and group (Chama) investments with the desire to improve the quality of life for their families.

“Our main objectives included pulling together financial resources for investments, non-collateral loans to members and to use the group as an opportunity to access government and non -governmental benefits which can only be channelled through a group,” said the group chairlady.

By 2013, the group had collectively saved Sh300,000 which at the beginning of 2014, they decided to spend part to purchase water tanks of 3,000-litre capacity for each member to end their water challenges. This left the group with Sh70,000.

When Konza sub-location Chama chairman called for the training of all the groups in the location in April that year, Madaraka Self Help Group which was also represented invited officers from Women Enterprise Fund (WEF) officer from Machakos Town to give them more training.

This would become the group’s connection to credit source for a project that would later lift their livelihoods.

At the end of the training, the group successfully applied for Sh100,000 from WEF which they used to lease an acre piece of land, buy some water pumps and pipes and began growing tomatoes.

 

Their first sale of the crop was in mid-2015 when the group sold tomatoes worth Sh400,000, with expenses of Sh159 000 thus making a profit of Sh241, 000 enabling them to repay the loan and apply for the second funding of Sh200,000.

This came in February 2016 which they used part to lease another acre of land and the rest in production as they had two acres so far.

As per their expectation, they were able to earn Sh800,000 making the group be worth Sh550,000 after repaying their second loan and other expenses which include some two farmhands and casual labourers.

78With the increasing income, the members have so far decided to use part of their savings to begin individual members businesses such as foodstuff shops, charcoal selling businesses and motorbike businesses.

They can now contribute to their family needs and Improve their livelihoods without necessarily depending on their husbands for financial support.

For Tushibe Mtama Women Group in Nakuru’s Rongai Constituency, they took their first loan of Sh50, 000 in 2010 to start in the bakery business.

The group which has been growing sweet potato seemed to have found a solution to their market woes because since they used the money to buy an oven, they have established their business of baking cookies, buns and cakes from the produce’s flour and tubers. 

As they repay their previous loans, they become more eligible for more loans and funding, which has enabled them to increase the acreage under sweet potato production and improve their value addition enterprise.

79

Since registered with the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS), they have developed product labels and packaging that is now enabling them to reach their goods to formal markets and improve their incomes.

Interestingly, the group members livelihoods have also improved and they can support their families.


Agripreneur Blog business

Meru Duo Breaks Through Financial Challenges to Build an Agribusiness Empire

15. Muriithi. Photo by NMG

Access to agricultural financing has always been a problem for most smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa due to the high risks associated with the sector especially in the wake of global climate change.

In fact, financial institutions such as banks do not disburse loans to the growers without surety and most of the time the interests charged are always high limiting many of them.

Because of this, many of these small-scale farmers turn to their friends, family members, relatives, and farmer groups for capital.

This is the situation in which Musa Muriithi and his brother Edward Mucheni found themselves three years ago when they wanted to raise some money to start an agribusiness venture.

According to Muriithi, it all started when he wanted a loan of Sh0.5m from a financial institution and all he had as a surety was a 3.5-acre piece of family land in Meru County.

As the institution delayed taking him through rigorous processes, he decided to look for a private land evaluator who told him that the land had a much higher value than the money he was looking for.

He, therefore, decided to consult with his brother Mucheni and the duo agreed to spend some of their savings to buy 200 banana tissue plants.

29

 

They panted and after the plants did so well, they decided to incorporate poultry, rabbit farming and fish production.

‘’The reason to begin this way was the idea we had to use the rich-in-minerals fish pond water and manure from the livestock to grow arrowroots, passion fruits farm, mangoes and the bananas,” said Muriithi.

They would soon spend the money drawn from poultry, fish and bananas to construct four greenhouses; two that major purely on strawberries, one has garden peas while the last one has assorted crops that range from cucumbers, beetroots and courgettes.

They have so far inter-cropped cassava and mangoes in one part of the farm while the other has tree tomatoes.

‘’The benefit of the tree tomatoes is that once they matured, we can harvest throughout the year and they require little attention,” said Machine.

30

 

According to him, the fruits’ market is also good and the farm cannot even satisfy the demand from Jatomy and Maguna Andu supermarkets in Chuka town they supply to.

These many integrated farm productions cushion us from price fluctuations in that in case of the glut of one commodity the other could be in great demand, he said.

The two have also gone into dairy goat farming to tap into the animals’ rich nutritional milk spiking its demand among consumers to supplement their income.

Beekeeping at the edge of the farm to increase their crops’ pollination besides harvesting honey for income is something the duo have not forgotten.

They have also learnt to turn farm weeds and wastes into valuable products for sale or using within the farm.

For instance, banana trunks are mixed with wastes from the poultry, rabbits and goats’ farm and are all preserved in a pit to make compost manure.

‘’This style of farming is rewarding and before embarking on it, one should do proper research to know what is working and does not besides knowing your markets well,’’ said Muriithi.

The farm they have since named Kagumo-Hort farm is indeed a host of activities, making it a frequented place by customers and learners.


Agripreneur Blog business

Process of becoming an organic farmer in Kenya

34

Since 1950s during the Green Revolution when there was an upsurge in crop yields due to introduction of chemical fertilisers and pesticides to boost crop production, the use of natural means to grow crops have become less popular among farmers.

However, despite the potential of the convectional type of farming in boosting crop production, the use of these synthetic fertilisers and pesticides have been found to be the main cause of environmental degradation and worse of all, food contamination.

It is because of this that many consumers especially from the west are now moving towards organically grown food crops as consumers are shying away from crops laden with pesticides.

The trend is slowly picking up in Kenya due to lack of proper mechanisms to control pesticide use in farms despite concerns of the risks they pose.

This has created increasing demand for organic foods as Kenyans especially of middle class drifting towards consumption of these foodstuffs.

37

Even as many farmers are now trying to adopt the use of natural processes, compost manure and biological pest control methods to boost soil fertility or manage pests and diseases to cash in the growing demand of organic foods, there is need for them to follow due process to be able to trade well with their foodstuffs both locally and internationally.

Organic farming certification process

For farmers to be able to sell they organic produce especially in the export market, it is a requirement that they register their enterprises with the world governing body, International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) which has its presence in almost every part of the globe.

In Kenya, IFOAM is represented by EnCert Limited.

According to EnCert, the process of certification starts by the producer changing his or her mind-set to go organic then applies for certification by filling a form from EnCert for organic farming. The form is available online.

After submission and verification, EnCert inspectors then come to the respective farm or enterprise of the applicant to verify if the producer adheres with the organic production requirements.

Among the things they check on include record keeping, the surrounding and inside of the farm/enterprise, seed and seed treatments, fertilizer and plant protection scheme, storage facility and finally packaging and labelling of the produce.

If the inspector is satisfied with all the above conditions, he or she presents the findings to the registration committee for approval. 

If the committee approves the enterprise, the owner is issued with an international number and later organic farming certificate is issued.

The certificate is thereafter required to be renewed annually.

Now, because this can be tedious for small-scale farmers, it is recommended that they may come together and produce intensively for domestic markets as they advance to international markets.

36

“This can be a good beginning,” said Ronnie Vernooy, a Genetic Resource Policy Specialist at Bioversity International adding that such farmers can work in groups, specialise in producing particular crops and target specific markets.

Meanwhile they can work closely with Kenya Organic Agriculture Network (KOAN) which can help in knowledge building among other support. This is because there has been less recognition of Kenyan organic farmers despite the pick-up of organic farming in recent years.

According to Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), one of the world’s leading institutes in the field of organic agriculture, organic farmland in Africa has doubled in area in the last decade, to 2.1m hectares, with the biggest organic centres in East and North Africa and the crops they grow enjoyed the world over.

But, in Kenya, certification of smallholders who avoid synthetic fertilisers and pesticides has remained difficult due to a lack of information, scant government support and the high cost of getting certifying documents.

To become a member of KOAN or Association of Organic Agriculture Practitioners of Kenya, which helps in training of organic farmers and facilitation of the certification process, farmer groups pay a Sh10,000 registration fee.


Blog business

SMEs’ Take: How to manage cash flow and late payments during these hard-economic times

Kuza Blog Header

Despite being pertinent cogs to economies of developing countries and other economies, offering employments and jobs creation, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are faced with many challenges one being difficulties in managing cash flow which may end up causing their collapse within the first few months of operation.

According to a 2014 research by Ms Avika Mungal, Lecturer, Department of Management Accounting, Faculty of Accounting and Informatics, Durban University of Technology, South Africa on Cash Management Challenges of Small Businesses in a Developing Community, one aspect that keeps small business owners awake at night is the management of cash flows with nearly 71 per cent of such businesses experiencing cash flow problems.

The research which targeted small retail businesses in the Tongaat area in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa further indicates that the biggest mistake SME owners make is confusing profits of the business with the cash flowing into the business with lack of bank accounts, bad debts and lack of cash budgeting among other key problems.

For Dickson Mulli, CEO of Synergy Solutions Kenya Limited, a company that deals in real estates, Milele Fresh dairy products, agribusiness consultancy and more, difficulties in managing cash flow by most SMEs is a common challenge but a smart approach to it is what creates the difference.

“We as a company have faced financial problems here and there since December and the COVID-19 pandemic has even made it worse as there are 30 per cent cases of defaults in payment by our clients generally due to these tough economic times,” said Mulli. 

“Wwe have since decided to changed our approach by selling less on credit and employing pay-on-cash policy where we encourage our clients to pay cash upon delivery of goods and services.”

This, according to Mulli, may not go well with some clients as most of them are interested in a longer credit period so that they may use the money to reinvest in their businesses, make profits then pay later unaware of the effect they impose on the supplier.

“Some clients lie on their financial status and when you become strict on cash payment upon delivery, they become reluctant doing business with you and sometimes you may lose them.”

Since late payment causes delay in the company’s settlement of its bills, sometimes Mulli opts for internal borrowing from the company’s savings account or negotiate the best rate of payment by clients whose debts seems overwhelmingly big.

“Because shutting down is not an option, we always call some of these clients for an arbitration meeting where we suggest to them a moderate payment percentage over a given period over which we continue doing business with them and we have seen this work well,” he said.

Since SMEs operations greatly depend on the owner, he advises that such businesses should have about five accounts that include revenue collection, paying creditors, savings, recurring expenditure and reinvesting accounts.

“Even at that, business owners should be careful to draw money from any of the accounts for personal use, paying all staff before earning their share and avoiding spending more than a third of income just in case of any eventualities,” advises Mulli.

Some SMEs like Viffa Consult Limited which deals in consultancy, business process outsourcing, research and analytics to other companies diversify their sources of income as one of the ways of managing their cash flows and late payments from clients during these tough economic periods.

According to Victor Agolla, the company’s managing director, it always occurs that two in ten of their clients pay late and the late payments affect staff salary, office rent, taxes and other statutory obligations.

“Since we know that late payment by clients is almost unavoidable, we have diversified our sources of income by dealing in a number of income-generating activities to raise additional funds besides tightening credit policy by asking bigger deposits of 80 per cent and offering discounts to cash buyers,” said Agolla.

He says in case of problems in cash flow and late payments causing even the loan market becoming expensive and unsustainable, decision to lay off staff and moving to smaller offices are other ways of bouncing back.

Nevertheless, other SMEs strictly abide by their basic budgets and allocating an emergency fund to avoid any future complications as they believe that the lack of proper planning represents a central problem that affects business growth, profitability and sustainability.

Edward Mbogo, Operations Lead at Myride Africa, a company that deals in public transport system, says late payments and cash flow difficulties are always there but being obedient is key.

“Late payments will always be there even from big players. We do get them once in a while but when changing our priorities and adjusting the budget by using cash meant for something else in a different docket all must be done following the company’s procedure,” said Mbogo.

To him, late payments and poor management of cash flows have always thrown the company off-target ending up in debts, however, having an emergency fund and also doing strict agreements with clients in matters payments avoid such inconveniences.

For Crest Fine a Kenyan company that makes and distributes bread, it was forced into asking clients to pay for the products before delivery after accumulating debts amounting to Sh100,000 a day. 

“When faced with late payments, we have to find other sources of funds such as bank loans in order to be able to meet cost of operations. Due to their frequent occurrences, we have had to take measures in order to mitigate them; we outsource debt collectors who we pay a percentage of the fee when the debt is recovered and paying before the service,” said Alex Ndungu, the Managing Director of Crest Fine.

he says that with the expected new normal situation post COVID-19, the majority of small business ventures would require some external funding at some point in the business with banks being the first option many would approach in order to bounce back.