The following profile was first published in the Media Max PD journal.
For 10 years, Moses Gathua worked as the branch manager for Kenya Small Traders and Entrepreneur Society in Nakuru before resigning in 2002. At the time, the father of three thought his luck to make it big lied in dairy farming.
Although he started off well, frustrations set in when he could not find a market for his milk, causing the business to fail. “I used to produce over 20 litres of milk a day and getting a ready market was challenging, forcing me to distribute some of it to my neighbours free-of-charge,” he remembers.
However, the tide changed for the better after he attended a training and sensitisation programme sponsored by Kenya Agricultural Productivity and Agribusiness Project (Kapap), on the financial benefit of rabbit farming. He says, “Initially, I was skeptical about it, mainly because rabbit-rearing is attributed to boys rather than men.”
Nonetheless, he took a gamble, which has paid off handsomely, a fact he can attest to. The success is evident when he compares his managerial earnings of Sh20,000 monthly, to the over Sh80,000 he makes in profits from rabbits.
He says, “I earned Sh20,000 a month in my white collar job, but now I am financially stable earning four times that amount.” Currently, he says his hands are full and is hardly able to satisfy the market demand for rabbit meat.
Now, successfully established, he and other farmers, have collaborated to open a rabbit centre used as a slaughterhouse and research centre.
The group partnered with Egerton University to conduct research on various rabbit breeds, in order to advice farmers promptly. As its chair, he is currently recruiting more members into rearing the animals so as to satisfy the growing demand in the market.
Gathua says, “The centre was established in 2014 and already has 1,500 members”. One of the visitors to the centre, a University of Nairobi Bachelor of Commerce graduate, Samuel Njoroge, says he is fully bought into venturing into this business after his first visit to the rabbit centre.
He was lucky to sample the delicacy from various rabbit breeds terming the experience “awe inspiring.” He says, “I will no longer toil looking for a white-collar job when there is a gold mine in rabbit-rearing. I plan to venture into self-employment to enjoy financial freedom as Gathua has done.”
Gathua and Njoroge both believe that unemployment is a myth, since opportunities to financial independence are unending. At the centre, there are deep freezers, coolers and fridges to preserve the meat before it is supplied to clients.
He says, “The centre buys a kilo of rabbit meat at Sh300 and after slaughter and packaging, sell it for Sh550.” Their major clients are hotels, supermarkets and residents in Nakuru.
He says the team has received overwhelming response such as a call from the Trans Nzoia county government, which has recognised the group’s effort and wants the same model replicated in the county.