Anne Mugo is the co-founder of The Farm Gang, a Kenyan agribusiness firm that specializes in the organic growth of strawberry fruits, seedlings and farming training.
Due diligence goes hand in hand with investment. When I first got employed in the year 2009, a friend of mine convinced me to invest in a farmer who was growing rice in Mwea and did not have capital. My role in the project was to act like an investor, give the farmer the capital he needed and upon harvest, we would split the profits. I took a loan from a bank to fund the farmer’s project. But the farmer disappeared as soon as he got my money. To make matters worse, I lost my job shortly after. Now I had an unpaid loan that I could not account for. The bank breathed down my neck the entire repayment period. This was one of the toughest financial seasons I have gone through. This experience taught me the importance of due diligence. Since then, I no longer trust every Tom, Dick, and Harry with my money just because they have a promising business venture that needs an investor.
It takes resilience to build a farming business in Kenya. Don’t fall for the hype on social media that farming will make you an overnight millionaire. Things can go wrong very quickly in farming. The challenges are so many; heavy rainfall, lack of rainfall, pests, diseases, glut in the market. Some pests and diseases wipe out an entire crop. All these are challenges that I have faced in my venture. But out of all the bad seasons, there are those seasons that make it all worthwhile. As a farmer, I have learned to take the lesson, learn from it, pick up the pieces and move on. Don’t venture into farming if you’re the kind that gives up easily.
You can never learn about money out of the blue. You must invest in knowledge. There are people who teach about wealth and personal finance management. Unfortunately, many of us are very hesitant when it comes to investing in financial knowledge. In my profession as a farmer, lack of training on best farming methods, investment and marketing is one of the primary reasons why farming is still a loss-making venture for many.
Agribusiness as a wealth creator is still underutilized. My job at The Farm Gang mostly involves training women and young people on the potential of agribusiness as a wealth creation tool. So far, I have trained over 70 women and youth on growing strawberries organically over the past 20 months. Most of these have then gone on to start farming ventures that are now giving them additional income on the side lines of their main job or business.
I grow my money by saving a percentage of my income every month. This percentage is reserved for reinvestment in my farming ventures and securities portfolio. A while back, I used to save my money on my mobile phone and bank account. I have since quit and switched to the money market fund. I switched because of the lucrative interest rates that my money earns.
It is never about what you earn, but what you keep. Start saving for retirement as soon as now and endeavor to find a side hustle that will bring you extra sources of income. This applies regardless of whether you’re employed or in business. Above all, invest in yourself; invest in knowledge, learn a new skill every so often, enroll in personal finance or entrepreneurship programs and learn how to save, invest and run a business.
The Farm Gang: This feature was first published in the Saturday Magazine. The Saturday Magazine is a publication of the Nation Media Group.