Rodgers Kirwa Alias Mr. Agriculture is an Agribusiness Specialist, Farmer and an Advocate for Youth & Women in Agribusiness. He is the founder of iAgribiz Africa Model Farm and Training Centre, an organization that exists to advocate, communicate and educate the public on agriculture, located in Barasendu location, Kapsimotwa Ward in Nandi County
For Mr. Agriculture, passion had pushed him beyond the limit, opening a plenty of oppoertuinities for his business and pushing him to impact the society positively.
What is iAgribiz Africa about?
iAgribiz Africa Model Farm and Training Centre, is a community project that seeks to develop agribusiness skills in youth and women through practical training and mentorship. We have facilitated a lot of training in modern and best agricultural techniques that farmers can implement in their homes.
What pushed you into agribusiness?
This is what I’ve always wanted to do. I decided to monetize my business. As soon as I cleared campus in 2016, I focused on agriculture and it has been really rewarding.
As at know, I’m proud to note that I have diversified into horticultural farming with a couple of greenhouses already running. I have also ventured into fishing, poultry farming and I also have a grocery try to provide a market for our small-scale farmers who are our main target.
Where did you source for capital to start off your Agribusiness?
I started small with assistance from my parents and I was able to get my initial capital to get into potato farming. I later got financial support from friends from Israel here in Kenya (GreenArava) who gave me a farmers kit (a greenhouse and drip irrigation system). From this, I was able to make some money and build more greenhouses.
What has attributed to the success of your business?
Passion, Discipline, Mentorship. I am open minded to knowledge and information in my area of business keeping myself abreast.
What challenges have you faced running the business and how did you overcome them?
First was the challenge of getting resources to invest but with the savings and investment made by my friends was of great help.
Market dynamics – sometimes we as farmers are forced to sell our produce at very low costs to the brokers. This is very demoralizing. To solve this, I came up with a grocery where I sell my produce to the final consumer.
What are some of the major achievements of your business?
In April 2016, we started small, but as at now, we offer a wide range of services to the farmers including consultancy, training on farm management and construction of greenhouses. In September 2016 I was nominated for an Award (OLX SOMA Award – Best use of Social Media, Agriculture Award ~ 1st runners-up.
I have worked with GreenArava East Africa as my first suppliers of greenhouse who also gave me agronomical support. Currently, we are working with Koppert, a Dutch company dealing with biologicals and Gordios Farms, an international company working with farmers across the world. We are looking to partner with Egerton University, to offer farm attachment to their agriculture students. Ministry of Agriculture, Nandi County has backed us immensely.
I have also gotten opportunities to travel widely across the world because of what I do. One was getting an opportunity to attend a Women in Agribusiness fellowship at Michigan State University. One of the Key topics of discussion here was Entrepreneurship. I have also been able to visit several other countries to speak about agribusiness including South Africa, Botswana, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Rwanda, Mozambique among others.
What’s your attitude towards being your own boss and a young entrepreneur?
Being your own boss is one of the most incredible experience you will ever go through. I enjoy what I do all the time.
How do you compete in this digital space?
Social media has always been my greatest tool. Consistency and giving the best to your clients will always make them come back again and again
Where do you see your agribusiness in the next five years?
One of the largest producer of fresh produce in the country.
If you were to go back on time, what would you differently that would have contributed enormously to the success of the business?
I would just have started this journey earlier.
What would you tell upcoming entrepreneurs who are struggling at the bottom but determined to make it to the top?
You are a work in progress, results don’t happen overnight. A little progress each day adds up to big results. Stay dedicated and keep working. Always involve experts in what you do. That way you will turn from being just a farmer to an agripreneur. Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can