SMEs

A TEEP ALUMNI TALKS ABOUT HIS CASSAVA BUSINESS, ADVICES UPCOMING YOUNG AGROPRENEURS

Photo Credit: Kolawole Omotola 

This month we interview Kolawole Omotola a young entrepreneur from Ekiti state. He is also a Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP) Alumni, today he has a cassava processing facility where he packages “garri” for consumers within and outside his community. Omotola is one youth who have succeeded with support through business skills training, mentoring, access to seed capital funding and together with passion for entrepreneurship.

We introduce him as our Young Agropreneur of the Month, here he tells us his story, how he started and established his company “Oyinkola Enterprises” and how he overcame market acceptance of his product which was his major challenge. He discusses constraints to cassava business among others. Omotola ends with his future plans, recommendations for government and advice to upcoming youth intending to go into Agribusiness.

Introduction

I am Kolawole Omotola, a native of Ekiti state, a graduate of Computer Science from Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye, Ogun State and the CEO of Oyinkola Enterprises.

I am a member of a big family with many siblings. I had no choice but to strive and cater for myself. This thought me to stay focused and be determined to never give up and be a great achiever. Growing up was indeed by God’s grace. I have great passion for agricultural activities and I have a goal to produce food for my community.

Starting up

I am into cassava crop processing, I am a garri maker! The major challenge that was faced while starting up was market acceptance. But with God it came as a success, our product was evenly embraced by all in the community.

 

Photo credit: Kolawole Omotola

Benefits

  • Agribusiness is my lifestyle; I personally made the choice of the business of agriculture. I am happy doing it because I am achieving my dreams. It gives me joy when customers give happy comments on the product, like your garri was wonderful; we so much enjoy taking it.
  • Oyinkola Enterprises have employees that help in the cassava crop processing. We have 4 permanent staffs and about 8 casual staffs with different roles. We have been able to create little jobs for the society as the women who come to peel our crops go home with little cash at the end of the day to help with their various family; we also train our workers to gain some skills, this we believe has its multiplier effect on our productivity as an enterprise.

Constraints

  • The hardest part of the business is the peeling of crops before grating and what makes this difficult is lack of peeling machine. We believe, as soon as the enterprise is able to get this machine, our work will be easier and faster.
  • Another issue we are experiencing is on some of our causal staffs who have little or no formal education; we are faced with the problem of starting with them from the crash.
  • Government’s inconsistent policy is also a major constraint that needs a positive change and adjustment. This will encourage more youths to be involved in the business of agriculture.

Future Plans

  • Even though we still purchase cassava crops from farmers to process, we are planning on cultivating our own cassava and increasing the quantity of our processed product.
  • We intend to venture into the business of industrial starch and cassava flour soonest.
  • We are planning to have a branch in Ekiti state before the end of the year and hope to have branches of Oyinkola Enterprises in different states of Nigeria as time goes on.

Recommendation to the Government

  • Kindly empower more extension workers to assist farmers on their farm to get it right on modern farming techniques and methods.
  • Help Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) by easing the process of getting the NAFDAC number for their products.
  • Ensure adequate access to agricultural machinery, like the tractor, plough etc.

Advice for Upcoming Entrepreneurs and Youths 

  • My advice is that you should be ready to face your life and prepare to start small because where you start from will not be where you will be in few months after starting. Start now and face the challenges ahead as life itself is a challenge. So this is a challenge worth facing to better your life, family and community. You will be proud you did!

Many youths always complain of fund as the major problem of not starting their dream business. But I will say it is not the first thing to consider if one wants to start. Firstly, seek for more knowledge on that particular business and before you are done with that, there will be provision of finance.

Oyinkola Enterprises on Facebook, Website

 

Mentorship Corner – Oluyinka Alawode, Senior Correspondent ,Business day NG

We kick off our mentor ship corner for the 2014 with an exclusive interview with Olayinka Alawode, an award winning Agric-journalist and Senior Correspondent with Businessday Nigeria. She tells us her journey in Agriculture and we indeed believe youth can pick on or two things from her story.

Oluyinka Alawode,  when she won a media competition winner by Future Agricultures

Oluyinka Alawode, when she won a media competition  by Future Agricultures

AGROPRENEUR Naija! – Please tell us your name and background plus what you currently do.

Oluyinka Alawode:  My name is Oluyinka Alawode. I studied agriculture at the University of Ilorin. Currently I work as a journalist with BusinessDay reporting mainly agriculture,  SMEs, and so on.

AGROPRENEUR Naija! – What has your experience been as an agric journalist? Oluyinka Alawode:  Very fulfilling because I am able to contribute to the development of agriculture in my country even if it is in a small way, I enjoy meeting people of all classes and races which the career has given me the opportunity of and I enjoy going to places- whether rural or urban. For instance in 2009 I was in Kenya with other African journalist to study about the nomadic herdsmen and we slept in tents in a small settlement in the wilderness surrounded by wild animals but the Massai people who run the resort know how to keep the lions and other wild animals away. We also took rides in jeeps to see how the nomads shepherd their flocks in search for water and grasses  in the midst of wild animals in the wilderness.

AGROPRENEUR Naija! – Would you describe it as a viable agriculture field?

Oluyinka Alawode:  Yes, if one is willing to work very hard, make sacrifices by going the extra mile in reporting sometimes at one’s own cost. Pls note that many media houses in Nigeria want journalists that can report across different sectors so no one actually gets appointed as an agric journalist. But with passion and consistency in reporting agric, the person will eventually gain recognition within and outside the country as an agric journalist

AGROPRENEUR Naija! – Many young people in Nigeria do not want to pursue a career in agriculture, what do you think is responsible?

Oluyinka Alawode:  it is because it usually takes a longer time to get rewards or returns in virtually every field of agriculture and achieving success demands so much hard work. For instance, an agric journalist who wants to make a mark would need to go long distances and spend hours under the sun in rural areas to do some reports when the  colleagues are attending forums or doing interviews in  airconditioned halls and offices

AGROPRENEUR Naija! – What in your opinion can be done to change the mindset of youth towards Agriculture in Nigeria?

Oluyinka Alawode:  They must realise that the sustainable jobs and businesses of the future are in agriculture, whether you are an IT expert, a journalist, a scientist, banker, transporter, builder, marketer, industrialist, an entrepreneur, and so on. In the very near future all people with skills related to agric would be in very high demand.  I can guarantee you that banks for instance would need many staff that have good understanding of agribusiness because most bank products would be designed to fund or support such businesses if the bank wants to survive. But agric is so practical that no matter how much you read about it if you don’t spend quality time in the field you may not become a true expert.

AGROPRENEUR Naija! – With your experience working with farmers, government, private sector players etc. What can you say about the future of agriculture in Nigeria?

Oluyinka Alawode:  Very promising! One of my mentors said and you can mark those words –“Crude oil will soon be like salt, so cheap and easily available worldwide that the price will drop such that no country’s economy can survive on it”. Yet like salt it will still be  very useful  but of little value price-wise But what agribusiness offers is massive employment, food security, raw materials for industries, export base, scientists even private research companies will become very relevant ensuring they constantly come up with researches to minimise or eliminate losses in agric, banks will become more confident to support agribusiness, more professionals will take up agribusiness and do it the proper way, food produced in Nigeria will dominate the shelves in supermarkets, airlines will thrive just doing cargo trips taking agric products out of Nigeria,  farms will become tourist destinations, agric teachers/lecturers with practical experience will be in great demand and so on and so forth

AGROPRENEUR Naija! – What advise do you have for the numerous youth in Nigeria and beyond who are considering venturing into agriculture?

Oluyinka Alawode:  They should go ahead. They have the advantage of going ahead of others. But they must keep on acquiring knowledge that they can apply to their work as agriculturists. They should not make the mistake that the older generations of farmers made, not going to relevant forums to network or attending courses. Farmers or people in related fields to farming should take the issue of networking very seriously. Take note that  good dressing adds to confidence, it does not have to be expensive but let it be neat and sharp, develop communication skills. These are needed to attract high profile customers and investors. Brand your products even if is just fresh produce, what stops you from being the supplier of quality fresh foods to some high networth individuals or organisations  and the remaining can be sold in the open market to  people generally

PHOTO CREDIT- Future Agricultures Flicker Photostream