How to succeed in agribusiness in Kenya

Agribusiness is transforming lives across Africa and beyond. You’ve heard stories of young people making millions in farming. Agribusiness has become so profitable that it is the new business in town. This is the reason many young people are now wondering how to succeed in agribusiness.

In this post, we’ll explore how to succeed in agribusiness by farming what you know; starting small; spreading the word; spending time wisely; getting ready to hustle; jumping to the next curve; diversifying; networking; working with smart people; being ready to get your hands dirty; avoiding the rush; leveraging technology, and persevering.

#1. Swallow Your Pride

The latest census statistics show that 3.5% of Kenyans have a university degree. Another 7% either have a technical or middle college training certificate according to the 2019 census. It is no doubt that the number of graduates has increased substantially since then for the obvious reason that colleges and universities pump more and more graduates into the labor market every other day.

Having a college certificate or university degree is a good thing. However, in Kenya and Africa at large, it seems to have its downside. The majority of college graduates do not want to do labor-intensive jobs like farming. I have seen and met many young Kenyans who would rather handle odd and demeaning white-collar jobs than go into a better-paying green one.

They think farming is a poor man’s work and a job of the last resort just as these writers observed. They are so obsessed with their certificates and educational qualifications that they cannot imagine going to the garden.

If you belong to this group of educated youth, then you’ll have to first swallow your pride before you can get anything out of farming.

Look, forget about your “A” grades and “first-class honors.” As long as you cling to them, they will not allow you to pay the price you have to pay to succeed in the agribusiness sector. In a growing economy like Kenya, farming for money is not a business for the proud. So, as long as you’re unwilling to interact with mud and animal droppings every morning, my advice to you is one: don’t waste your time. Brush your shoes and continue the job search before it is too late for you.

#2. Farm what you understand

You know, starting something and succeeding in it are two different things. In the same token, every kingdom has rules and regulations by which everyone must abide. In agribusiness, one principle you’ve to obey is just one I said: farm what you know.

Never venture into a farming practice unless you’re well familiar with it because you just don’t want to experiment with your money and time. So, prior to investing your money into any agribusiness venture, spend your time doing proper research to make sure you fully know how it works.

In doing so, you’ll improve your chances of short- and long-term success. You don’t want to gamble. I’m almost sure that there is no unique agribusiness investment you’re going to launch that has never been done anywhere in this world.

A fellow agribusiness writer, Timothy Angwenyi Morebu, put it better:

“Sometimes having the knowledge and experience in a certain farming venture is all it takes to succeed.”

My favorite investor, Aliko Dangote, says this about his own success.

“I only invest in a business I understand.”

If you’re doubting, check this video.

So, read widely. Talk to professionals. Visit experienced farmers. If possible, explain your new idea to your best friends.

#3. Start small

As I write this blog post, the tallest building on earth is Burj Khalifa of Dubai, which is said to be 828 meters high. Despite its facilitating height, this ground-breaking construction was once a mere foundation. The tallest tree is the Hyperion found somewhere in the heart of Redwood National Park in California. This 600-year old tree was once a seed. The world’s biggest companies, Apple, Inc., Microsoft, and Google, were once nothing, but an idea in the founders’ minds. A few years ago, this blog was just a dream and remained so until I actualized it.

There is nothing wrong with starting small. Even if you have a dream of building another Alibaba in the form of an agribusiness enterprise, your ideal route is to begin small and grow progressively over time. There are numerous advantages I see with an agripreneur starting small.

But the most important benefit of starting small is that it delivers you from the stress of trying to get huge finances; a challenge that has locked millions of aspiring youth farmers from getting into farming. Most successful farmers began with as little capital as KE 1,000 from which they grew their investment.

Also, by starting small, you’ll be positioning yourself learning the easy way. Remember farming comes with numerous challenges including the risk of losing all your investments due to crop failure, animal diseases, etc.

Take the bold step and begin with the little things you have. “Within no time you will look back and smile thanking God for giving you the patience and wisdom of starting small,” writes Timothy.

#4. Spread the word

There is a reason why some businesses grow faster while others are stuck: advertisement. You see, when you start a new agribusiness venture, you’re not investing to sell your products or services to yourself, but to other people. So, it is prudent for you to work on letting your target customers know about the existence of your business.

Spend time telling your friends, family, workmates, colleagues, and business contacts about your business. Don’t be afraid to post ads on your WhatsApp group, Facebook page, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms within your reach. Ask your friends to share the news with their friends. This is called grassroots marketing.

Occasionally, it may feel weird or awkward talking about your new venture especially to people who do not understand your idea. Some may even try to discourage you. So, you’ll need to stay focused. In due time, grassroots marketing will enable you to spread the word about your business at much lower costs than you ever imagined.  

There is no business that does not need advertising to succeed. Let me give you an example.

According to websitesetup.com, there are at least 1.7 billion websites. With over 4.66 billion active internet users worldwide, I still need to work hard to beat the competition and get people informed about the existence of my site otherwise no one is going to read my content. I spend time informing friends, advertising my posts on social media platforms, telling my family members –I mean taking every ethical step to attract readers.

How popular do you think Google is? You’re probably browsing on Google right now! There are 4.39 billion internet users like you who use Google. Even with that level of popularity, Alphabet –Google’s parent company, still spent 2.5 billion U.S. dollars on advertising in the United States in 2020 alone.

That’s how important advertising is in the business world. So, do your marketing homework.

#5. Spend wisely

Whether your agribusiness enterprise is a startup or an established one, you’re going to need money. In fact, you’re going to have plenty of expenses to incur. Unfortunately, like millions of other youth agripreneurs in Kenya, chances are that you’re on a tight budget.

You’ve plenty of expenses to meet, but little money to fund those needs. That’s why your financial IQ or Financial Intelligence is going to be your most valuable asset. Avoid overspending and only spend when you have to. As an agripreneur myself, I know there are unavoidable expenses, but still, I do everything possible to find alternatives.

If you’re financially intelligent enough, you’ll be able to spread your little money over a broad range of expenditures. You’ll also be able to lower your financial needs and eventually, you’ll make big accomplishments with much less money.

In my next post, I will reveal to you the tips I use to lower my financial expenses in all my agribusiness projects.

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