Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Is social entrepreneurship a model for agri-business?

No later than yesterday night i had a long debate with the co-founder of Jolly Poultry about what social entrepreneurship is, and what it would mean for an agri-business like us to be a social entrepreneur.

Are we supporting the poor to produce poultry? to consume poultry? what has potential to scale? Where is the entry point? and how do we disrupt the existing system to leverage the poor, the young people and women?

So i found today this video, showing what a social enterprise is :

The video does not say much about farming and agri-business : there are still plenty of opportunities! What do you think are criteria for making our poultry agri-business a social enterprise?

Friday, August 15, 2014

When tomatoes become a luxuary ...

Over the last month, my budget for vegetables suddenly exploded... price in Nairobi for fresh food just dramatically went up, especially tomatoes doubled since i am here (ok there is also a seasonal effect in this price change)... The canteen everyday just serves cabbages as if another vegetable had disappeared from the market... I got so tired...

But I belong to the lucky people who can afford to enter a shop an by more expensive vegetables, even tomatoes. However, this significant price increase is fueling inflation in Kenya, making life for poor people even more difficult.

See the recent article about how food prices are changing the daily life of poor people in Kenya.

If you eat some fresh vegetable of your choice today, remind all those people who probably struggle to just get some sukuma wiki (local cheap cabbage).

Kenya: Phillip Abuya has seen a drastic change in his diet, thanks to soaring tomato prices, in a complex phenomenon that has altered the meal composition for millions of other households across Kenya. Tomatoes have fallen off his shopping list, and have been readily replaced by processed flavouring additives such as Royco and tomato paste. Traditionally considered an essential ingredient in cooking across the country, Abuya says he cannot afford to buy tomatoes at the current prices that are as high as Sh17 apiece. Corner shops in some residential estates are selling three large tomatoes for Sh50, and Sh10 for a medium-sized one. “I have to make do with the artificial additives when I cook,” said the 27-year-old accounting graduate who is yet to find a job. A typical meal he prepares consists of ugali and sukuma wiki. His situation is replicated in most households, especially across Nairobi, at least according to Jeremiah Njeru, who operates a grocery store in Buru Buru.
Read more at: http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/business/article/2000131015/why-most-households-are-dropping-tomatoes-off-their-menu?pageNo=1

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Engaging young people and women in commercially viable agriculture : a mission impossible?

In the developing world more than 50% of the population are young people (below 30 years). Many of them have a great struggle to find jobs, and entrepreneurship is often seen as one option to reduce youth unemployment. But youth entrepreneurship in not just a magic bullet. Some young people are just not the entrepreneur type, and for those who are access to capital to get a start-up going is pretty difficult.Often, the western world thinks that micro-credit can be a good option for young people to start off a business. Unfortunately, nowadays micro credits with amount between 100 -1000 USD are just not enough to get something going. More high risk capital should be made available, something the Kenyan goverment in looking into right now.

Here is an Aljazeera report that looks into these issues, and interviews some of the most innovative young people in Kenya.

It turns out that i know some of these young people and know about their struggle to get start up capital. The Kenyan government low interest governmental loans for young people gives some hope. However, no one really believes that the Kenyan government will really give out sufficient loans and on merit base.

Making commercially viable agriculture accessible to young people is an interesting option for youth entrepreneurship that Aljazeera does not mention. Jolly Poultry, the chicken farm that i have recently started up, is now looking into getting more young people in poultry farming. Poultry farming is a relative low entry business, meaning in amount of money needed to start up is relatively low. Especially in livestock there are good margins. Jolly Poultry does now offer training to young people and offers them a space to think about their own farm, to choose the right infrastructure, make the right choices fitting their personal situation and needs.

We hope in this way to open the door to poultry farming for some young people and give them are more interesting perspective of life in the Kenyan agricultural sector..