Conquering the challenge of starting up as young agropreneurs

startupIn previous times, young agricultural graduates usually get Federal Government jobs in the Ministry of Agriculture as Extension Agents who support local farmers in the country, now only a small fraction of graduates do have these “so-called” Federal Government jobs, this leaves majority of them to fend for themselves. This is usually frustrating, difficult and discouraging. What differentiates us from the bandwagon of young individuals who want to invest in agriculture is our passion, drive and our belief in the prospects of agriculture in Nigeria despite all odds.

As young agripreneurs when life throws lemons at us, we can duck them and keep asking where they came from or we could make lemonade out of them. In recent times more young agripreneurs are having interests in agriculture with most of them not knowing how to.

In the mist of their passion and drive, youth have a couple of challenges. In this post i will share some of them with a few tips to help.

  1. Inadequate technical know-how: young agripreneurs who intend running his/her agribusiness in the future need to develop their own technical knowledge of the intricacies of such agribusiness. They need to get familiar with operational activities of such agribusiness by either volunteering for a short period in farms, farm centres, or related agribusinesses while understanding and gathering operation information relating to market information, production facilities, and financial analysis among others.
  2. Funding: Since investing in agribusiness involves risk taking, you should have some money put aside in case things do not work out as planned. One mistake young agripreneurs make is not setting aside enough cash reserve to support oneself, most entrepreneurs run out of money to support the business and/or themselves before the business is profitable enough to sustain itself and however fail within the first few years.

Tip: Proactively set up a special fund intended to support yourself during the business startup phase for the first year and second to relieve pressure.

  1. The role of passion and consistency: Passion and resilience will grow your agribusiness and give you energy to go on whenever the question comes on to why you are doing agriculture.
  2. Not sure of what to plant or area of agribusiness to specialize in: One should understand the value chain of his crop/agribusiness then start analyzing which area to focus on. One cannot excel in agribusiness if you are a jack of all trades.

Tip: Pick one area and focus on it.

  1. Marketing: Market is the end in business. The primary goal of getting into agribusiness is to make profit. Before you get into any form of agribusiness, find out if there is a market for your product and seek a thorough understanding of that market. This saves you the hassle of having a product and no market for it in the long run.
  2. Lack of technical support and mentorship: Get information about area of interest and interact with as many people as possible in your value chain area so as to understand the technical intricacies involved about the crop, livestock or service you want offered. Essentially if need be volunteer for at least 3 months to get familiar with best practices that will yield best results understand the business arm, farming operations, processes and strategically add value to what exists. know enough to find mentors who would push you to the right path because mentors make success possible.
  3. Not willing to start small from ideas one currently have: One key lesson you should learn as a young agripreneur is you will need a lot of patience to see results as a young agripreneur. Start small and scale up gradually this way you would learn from experience and can adapt to painful lessons of the dos and don’ts of agribusiness without running at big losses. The aphorism that goes, experience is the best teacher, holds true in agriculture.
  4. Lack of innovation (one way traffic): Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results. Young agripreneur should keep an open mind to problems and see opportunities in every challenge they face when running their agribusiness.

NB: if after 3 years you realize that you haven’t made any profit in your agribusiness venture then it’s time to pitch your tent somewhere else.

  1. Lack of business plan: Have a clear business plan and assess the risks of your business. Consider all the requirements necessary to start off your business. Do you have land? If you don’t, how do you intend to acquire one? How much will it cost? How far is the land from your nearest selling point? What will be your means of transport and how much does it cost?
  2. Network Amputation: Recent fast developing trend in Nigerian involves use of social media by young agripreneurs who have various form of agribusiness ventures and use it to link up with potential customers, investors. A recent Pew study found that 73 percent of surveyed people 18 years of age and older use social media. Agripreneurs now get to know people and make friends in the agribusiness sector both online and offline; this way agripreneurs will have people to share their experience with and learn from too. To effectively reach those customers, one must integrate social media with old school marketing such as print ads, radio, billboards and direct mail. The average consumer spends just over five hours daily on digital media according to a recent study.

Tip: There are farmer groups one could join on social media platforms some of them includes; (Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD) Nigeria), Agropreneur Naija, Youths Initiative for Sustainable Agriculture (YISA) Nigeria, Some of these groups also have accounts on twitter, google plus and linkedin, this medium gives opportunity to cultivate healthy regular relationships with your farmers and customers. Also endeavor to contribute to agricultural discussions online.

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