Farmers Trend an online agricultural information portal (www.farmerstrend.co.ke) providing solutions to pressing issues affecting farmers and their businesses in Kenya has curved a niche itself in the digital trends.
Founded by John Kiruthi, who adds up as the team leader, a farmer, and a businessman with a background in Software Engineering, shares with us the about his venture into agriculture and ho the business has turned out to be over the years.
What is Farmers Trend all about?
Farmers Trend is much involved in supporting and enlightening the smallholder farmers appreciate modern farming skills, technology, value addition and diversification towards sustainable agribusiness. We help them access information, research, and technology in farming, market trends and connecting farmers with potential market/buyers.
Farmers Trend also runs several model farms in the country that include a dairy farm, a fruit farm, a mushroom farm, and a hydroponic farm.
What are the basic business operations for Farmers Trend?
Initially, our business was so much focused on online publication and revenue generated from guest posts and adverts. Today we have introduced other services like agritourism that we carry twice per month on different farms. Farmers Trend also runs three certified fruit nurseries in Nyeri and Muranga that sells seedlings to farmers and county governments.
Having started the business in October 2015 with offices located at Jainsala Street Nairobi and in Nyeri, we have grown over time with our clients including companies and individuals involved in agriculture and its entire value chain, whether in input supply, processing, export, manufacturing or extension provision
What inspired you to venture into the Agripreneurship?
Farming has been my passion. I was much motivated by a schoolmate who was making huge returns from mixed farming in the village while I was struggling to work for a company as a computer programmer in Nairobi. I decided using my skills to come up with a product in agribusiness.
After years of research I settled on content writing as a starting point, I developed farmers trend website and within a year I quit my job to concentrate on the platform. Two years down the line, the platform generated enough income to purchase two acres of land in Nyeri and one acre in Muranga
How much did you invest in the business while starting out?
The company started from my own savings that catered for technology and advertisement -worth Ksh 80,000. As at now, the company generates between Ksh 500,000 to Ksh1,000,000/=
What challenges have you faced running the business and how did you overcome them?
Like any business, sourcing for employees has been a struggle. Although this remains a major challenge, we have been forced to train our own employees who graduate from colleges/university. The nature of our business is totally different from what they learn in school.
Cash flow management: We have improved this through a request on down payments on all our services and faster invoice payments
sourcing for finance, this has always been a challenge due to lack of adequate assets.
What are some of the major achievements for Farmers Trend?
We work mostly with brands and individuals that are involved somewhere within the agricultural chain, just to mention a few, our clients include Savannah Honey, Amiran, Safaricom, Soil Care, Kakuzi, Mount Kenya Avocado Oil, Oserian Flowers, Oxfarm, Agritec Africa, ILRI, KALRO, Microsoft, KEBS, Medilink etc
What’s your attitude towards being your own boss and a young entrepreneur?
Starting your own business can be rewarding as long as you’re working with the right people. Because you’ll be both the boss and the employee, it’s important to make sure you’re ready to fill those roles before you commit your time, money, and effort to your new venture.
When you start a business, not only do you have to learn many new things, but you’ll also learn how much you don’t yet know. If you’re enthusiastic about learning, you’re more likely to succeed.
Where do you see your business in the next five years?
Am focusing on a business that will partner with the government and other affiliated agencies to aid small family farmers with the right information on food cultivation, breeds mechanization, and climate change mitigation.
Several products will be introduced in the next coming years. The business is also looking to expand to other countries with Uganda and Tanzania coming up in the next two years
What would you tell upcoming entrepreneurs who are struggling at the bottom but determined to make it to the top?
“Success does not mean the absence of failures. It means the attainment of ultimate objectives. It means winning the war, not every battle.” – Edwin C Bliss