start-ups

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

 

Making the most of opportunity – Tolulope’s brave choice in building her own cassava processing/packaging business venture

 

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Photo credit: Tolulope Aina

Aina Tolulope an undergraduate of the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Ibadan and a native of Ogun State is the CEO of Tolulope foods processing and packaging company- which is currently into the processing and packaging of Gari and has a brand known as MyGari aside packaging food items as souvenier for events. She developed the interest in cassava cultivation and processing during the one-year practical year training program while she was in 400 Level.

Despite several challenges, Tolulope chose not to back down!  She believes agriculture has revolutionized in this jet age and with the current state of the country, Nigerians especially the youths, should wake up and be that change they want to see instead of waiting for miracles to happen from the government.

INTRODUCTION

My name is Aina Tolulope, a student of the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Ibadan.  I am the CEO of Tolulope foods processing and packaging company, a brand that is currently into the processing and packaging of Gari called MyGari. I was born on the 12th of September!

When and where was the start of your journey into agribusiness?

My interest in agribusiness started during the practical year training program at the University of Ibadan for 400 level students. During this period, I developed the interest in cassava cultivation and processing and I decided from that time to pursue cassava cultivation, processing and packaging as a business venture.

Tolulope's Packaged Garri as souvenir for an event

What is your view about agribusiness?

Agribusiness to me differs from the conventional mentality people especially the youths have about the business enterprise. Agriculture generally has upgraded from the use of crude implements to mechanized farming, to agro- processing which helps to improve the value of agricultural products in the local and foreign market. The packaging also helps in adding value to the product. Oh well in this jet age, so packaging is key.

What part of your agribusiness do you find most satisfying and what part do you find most challenging?

The most challenging part has to do with expansion and capital needed for the business- since agribusiness is generally capital and labour intensive. Against all odds what’s satisfying about agribusiness is identifying problems that spring up from time to time, putting in place combating strategies and actually seeing positive results in respect to that.

What challenges did you face while starting up and what decisions and choices did you make to manage the challenges?

Hmmm… That’s a whole lot you know? but let me share a few of them. Initially, financing the business was the first issue, how to convince was next – how do I convince the identified sources to invest in the business? There was a dramatic incident which could have totally discouraged me from starting but I thank God I didn’t let that pose as a limitation, it was when a supposed expertise in the field who I expected to be a mentor was just after how much he could swindle out of me. Well, lessons were learnt and business had to go on. That’s what challenges are called right? (Laughs)….

Photo credit: Tolulope Aina

I chose not to back down, though challenges kept on popping up. The more they kept popping up, the more combating strategies were put in place. But then the beauty of it all is after much effort in trying to make things work out, you begin to yield positive results and those that looked down on you begin to appreciate you, people begin to acknowledge you as a source of motivation to others, a problem solver and a motivation to both young and old, these to me are priceless.

It’s not just about starting a business and keeping it moving, it is how much lives one can touch on the way up the ladder. Above all, focus, perseverance, hard work (with smart work as an active ingredient) and most importantly God’s grace is what has kept this business going.

How have the choices and decisions you made helped in the success of your business?

Choices like how to process the best quality of ‘Gari’, how to make it available for an affordable price, and what packaging material should be used, the form of packaging, size of the packaging, the target market among others. The decisions made were made based on the most cost-effective options that would benefit both the target market and the business. As an Agricultural Economist, I am concerned about minimizing cost, providing the product at an affordable price and still make the desired profit.

Some of Tolulope's packaged food products as souveniers

Do you attend seminars, mentoring programs for improvement in your business? How do you keep yourself informed for improvement in your business and what steps have you taken to improve?

Lol, why not? If I don’t, how then will I keep myself motivated and develop in the field? One of the essential qualities of an agripreneur is good and upgraded knowledge of the business. To me, knowledge is key!

What’s your view on youth involvement in agro-processing, and packaging?

It’s key, in short, this is the future of this nation’s agribusiness. The bulk of food being consumed in Nigeria come from rural sources, others are from import sources with very little from private owned commercial farms. These rural farmers employ the use of crude implements. This is the 21st century, technology has gone way beyond that, where are the youth, the leaders of tomorrow and what are they doing about this? Even rural youth are coming to the city to ride okada.

Tolulope's Packaged Garri Product

The period of glut is accompanied with abundance of some resources and when these products are off season the nation experiences severe scarcity. What is wrong with our storage facilities? What is happening to mechanized farming? Asides from what we hear in the news about government empowering the youths in Agriculture? How many deserving youths have been empowered? How can a nation like ours that is blessed with a favorable climate for the cultivation of various agricultural produce still be unable to boast of being food secure? What is the problem? Is the government doing less or are the citizens ignoring agriculture? The reality is this, the supply of the labour force is higher that the demand for it. Year in year out we have thousands of youths ploughed into this sphere called labour force yet everyone prays and hopes for a good job, please where are these jobs? Youths let’s sit back and think about how we can help reduce these problems rather than add to it. How can we help ourselves to help others?

I apologize if I have somewhat digressed but then, we have to tell ourselves this truth, with the current state of our economy right now, everyone has to wake up and think of how to help revive our nation, the government cannot do it all, we cannot die of starvation by waiting for miracle to happen from the government, let us wake up and be that change we want to see.

What ideas would you encourage the government to implement to ensure youths involvement in Agribusiness?

Government, please help the youths, create avenues for seminars and training for the youths in Agriculture, there is need to reorientate the youths that there is more to agriculture than the use of hoe and cutlass, in short aside from all these ambiguous empowerment programs with little resultant effect on the economy when evaluated,  Identify interested youth, train them, divide them into teams of professionals in various aspects of agriculture, empower them by giving them substantial amount of hectares to cultivate, provide them with required resources, prompt mentoring and put up a structure that can accommodate sales of their product. When the government has agricultural products to sell, sporadic fluctuation of food items by suppliers will reduce. It is a broader concept which I cannot elaborately explain in this interview, but then trust me- there is a lot to be done especially on the part of the government.

tolu2

What is your advice to agropreneurs that have the desire go into agribusiness agro-processing and packaging?

In business, if one looks at all the likely problems to be encountered, no one would really start anything. Like I actually tell people from experience, there will never be a perfect time to take a bold step towards achieving one’s goals. You have to take the time (which is now) and make it perfect. Against all odds, you just have to take the  risk, calculated risk and not just risks without a well thought out plans, do not let anyone or anything weigh you down or deter you from achieving your dreams.

Identify persons that keep you motivated and strive towards being a source of motivation to others, be ye never particular about the profit to be made from a business but be more concerned about how many lives you can impact, a problem solver you can be not just for yourself but for the benefit of the entire human race. But then, you can never be too certain about some outcome, therefore, you should never rule out the God factor, do your best and let him crown your effort.

HOW MUCH ASSISTANCE ARE FARMERS REALLY GETTING FOR THEIR AGRO-STARTUP

does-financing-benefit-Afri

We are all saying poverty and hunger can be eradicated in Africa, to be particular in Nigeria, but little had been done to help the farmers that are actually going to make this ambition come true.

Are farmers really getting the desired help that will make this goal achievable or are farmers ignorant of what they should have done to get help?

It is saddening to see that almost 95% of these farmers are peasant farmers (trying to feed their immediate family). They use traditional farming method to work so that they can have something to eat and sometimes sell in order to feed their families and to pay some bills.

Taking a deeper look, if social entrepreneurs, agricultural supporting agencies, NGO’S and government ministry in charge of Agriculture are actually fulfilling their promises – relating to supporting these rural farmers financially and educationally while offering advice to these farmers – then things would be much more better.

Imagine a farmer who owns very large hectares of land, with only cutlass and hoes to work with, the inputted effort will be less and eventually his energy will not attain much. Compare a farmer who has farm equipment available to him for farming and wealth of information regarding what he has to do, the input will be encouraging, directly or indirectly he will make positive impact in his immediately environment, his family will have food to eat, proceeds gotten from what had been sold will be used to pay bills.

Remember also these individual farmers represent their families and the resulting effect will be obvious because each family will have food to eat and poverty will be reduced. Now imagine these 95% peasant farmers being supported and monitored to make sure the funds and support provided are meeting the target, poverty will be reduced to the minimal level. Through government and farmers cooperatives, information are disseminated to these farmers.

More so, the organization in charge of this fund must liaise with local government of each state to register farmers that are going to appropriately use support that they receive when these funds are disbursed, making sure the funds are used for what it is meant for.

If farmers are actually ignorant, then they can get help – that will be a serious issue speaking from their perspective. I will suggest organizations and NGO’s rendering help to farmers should always make their presence known in each local government, encouraging them to get list of camps (villages where farmers have their farms) so that they can have their sign post and also once in a while organize outreach and seminars for farmers in those enlisted camps.

Thus, if this can be done the goal to reduce poverty and to wipe out hunger is not out of reach. Organizations must do more and farmers should always ask questions, they must be proactive in their work and also be passionate about making the goal to feed Africa achievable because wiping out hunger starts from them.

Written by Oladapo Emmanuel

Oladapo Emmanuel is an information Technology Professional, a web 2.0 and social media expert, a blogger, writer, multi-talented individual and a social activist keen to social development for a better society. He is currently a student of Adekunle Ajasin University, Ondo state.

Six Low Cost Agricultural Start-Ups

 

Tomatoes ready for sales at a village market

 

Agriculture in Nigeria is gradually becoming the industry of focus in recent times. While it has always been fact that there are massive investment opportunities for potential investors in agriculture as well as a large job creation potential with attendant macro-economic effects if all aspects of the value chain are properly harnessed in Nigeria, many; especially the youths are yet to fully embrace the opportunity. However, there is a growing movement of young agribusiness oriented youths and the young at heart across the country providing support particularly in knowledge sharing, resource pooling and cooperation in various agricultural ventures.

There is a general belief that farming is capital intensive. This is not always the case depending on the aspect and the scale of production. Below are some

1. Vegetable production: Most vegetables have a short generation period and are categorized as catch-crops (fast growing crops). These include leafy vegetables like ugwu (pumpkin), ewedu, amaranthus spp (popularly called ‘green’), okra, tomato, pepper, etc. A small bed at the back of your house can hold a vegetable garden that can adequately serve your neighborhood on a commercial basis providing constant source of fresh vegetables even to nearby markets. This on a large scale may require more capital than the backyard farm however, continuous production and good management can make a backyard producer into a large scale vegetable farmer.

2. Fruit Production: Some fruits are biennial or perennial requiring at least 2years or more before fruiting. However, fruits like cucumber, water melon, carrot, eggplant etc. However, practical training may be required to successfully manage these. But they are not as capital intensive on a small scale relative to other farm ventures and they give a faster return on investment.

3. Agricultural commodity marketing: This is one of the most interesting aspects of agribusiness. Many farmers have produce but do not necessarily have a ready market or do not know where the demand for their produce is. Often times they get to selloff at not so profitable prices. There are also individuals and organizations in need of certain agricultural produce but do not have access to farmers when they need these produce. As an agricultural commodity marketer you provide a valuable linkage between the sellers (farmers) and the buyers. This connection under an agreed contract assures the farmer of a ready market and the buyer of a ready and constant supply when needed, and you nexus get your agreed commission from the transaction. Everybody is happy!!!

4. Industrial processing of agricultural products: this is another step in food production value chain. A step ahead of crop production actually. Agricultural products require processing to improve it’s suitability for consumption or industrial use, depending on the final demand. Oil palm production, cracking of nuts, processing and packaging of food spices are few of the subsectors under industrial processing of agricultural products.

5. Agro commodity export: this is also a step ahead of industrial processing of agricultural products. You might decide to process your agricultural products strictly for export. This can also be on a small scale through friends and family abroad who need the local African food condiments or through a structured organization that provides such service with an existing infrastructure thereby saving you cost on registrations and certifications. With increase in dollar price to Naira, agricultural commodity export is an attractive option to take advantage of now. According to statistics from Nigeria export promotion council, there has been an increase in export from non oil export segment with agriculture being one of the most notable non oil export sector. Some of the agricultural products that are exportable includes, pepper, crayfish, Iru (locust beans), garri, ginger, cashew, vegetables, food spices, cocoa, hide, groundnut etc.

6. Micro livestock and poultry farming: rabbit production, snailery, poultry are some low start-up requiring ventures too. Rabbits are very prolific (giving birth to litter size of 6-10 rabbits) and have a gestation period of about 30days. With a mature male and 2-3 females you can start off. Snails are easy to manage in terms of feeding and housing requirement. Materials like baskets, tyres, and wooden hutches can form the housing. Although they require a longer waiting time to maturity the relatively very low financial requirement and the high demand for the delicacy of snail meat more than make up for the waiting period. When we talk about poultry, most times we think about chicken and turkey. However, poultry refers to all domestic birds. Among the list, quail farming is one of the least expensive to start off compared to chicken and turkey. Quail eggs are in high demand, and a mature female begins to lay at 6-8weeks of age.

Article by: SCOTTS FARMS

Scott Farms Nigeria
2nd Floor, Providence House, Admiralty Way (Beside Tantalizers),
Lekki Phase 1,
Lagos, Nigeria.
T: 
+234 (0) 1 295 6050
E: mails@scottfarms.com.ng
W: http://www.scottfarms.com.ng
@ScottfarmsNG

For more information, guidance or training on any of the above, or seeking a structured system through which to farm or export farm produce, contact Scott Farms Nigeria (mails@scottfarms.com.ng, 08176770555)