- With funding and correct training, students can become job creators while still in campus and not wait to finish and end up as job seekers.
- From running a fresh juice outlet to offering extension services, varsity students launch fast growing agribusinesses.
- Besides extension services, they host clinics for farmers where they charge groups between Sh15,000 – Sh20,000 and train them on how to brand their products, whom to approach to get the correct market prices and funding and how to present and preserve their products to shield them from loses and poultry management aspects.
- Egerton University Deputy Vice-chancellor in-charge of Academics Affairs, Prof Alexander Kahi, said the university supports students to make them job creators.
As they made a beeline at the gate of Egerton University’s main campus in Njoro last week, the four easily looked like any other student.
It was rush-hour and the students were queueing for security check at the gate before hurrying to attend lectures.
But even as they went for the lessons, the four students mainly undertaking post-graduate classes did not have their minds entirely set for the lecture hall.
Partly, they were thinking about their agribusinesses, which they run as side hustles within the campus as they undertake their studies.
Two run a fresh juice outlet, and the others offer extension services and training to poultry and dairy farmers.
Seeds of Gold caught up with the four agri-preneurs, all who are under 30, to get insights into their ventures and how they strike a balance between the lecture halls and running their fast-growing side hustles.
THEY SHARE NAMES, AND BUSINESS TOO
Dickson Otieno Okello, 29 and Dickson Otieno Ouma, 27
The two students started Agri-Fresh Supplies, a fruit juice company, and Prima Gallus, a poultry extension services outfit.
Agri-Fresh Supplies deals in fresh mango, avocado, passion fruit, pineapple and orange juices alongside banana and apples. The shop located at the university processes juice under the brand name Smoothies, which sells like hot cake.
“We buy yoghurt from the university and use it blend our juice, a unique mixture that has become popular with students, teaching and non-teaching staff,” said Okello, noting they also makes plain juices.
A bottle of a 250ml of juice sells at Sh40 and in a good day, they make up to Sh12,000 from the shop that opens six days a week. “Sometimes sales drop to Sh6,000 per day especially during the dry season when getting milk is a challenge.”
The business started in 2015 has grown tremendously and is valued at more than Sh1 million currently.
Okello, who has completed a Masters degree in Agri-Enterprise Development and is set to graduate this month, said the business has been growing as the student population increases annually.
“We source fruits directly from farmers which has ensured a steady supply of fresh produce at better prices,” said Okello, who started the business together with his friend after getting a seed capital of Sh250,000 from the university.
Through the business, they have been able to pay for their college fees at the Masters level, repay the loan and pay their bills.
The enterprise started with two employees today has employed seven people, with students also earning some commission when they work at the facility.
“Our biggest challenge is to sustain the fruit business when the students are on holiday since they are our key market. There is also the challenge of balancing course work and business but we have learnt how to overcome that through time management,” he said.
On the other hand, Prima Gallus, the poultry extension services business, was started in 2016 and focuses on the entire value chain.
Ouma, a Masters of Agri-enterprise Development Studies student, who is set to graduate in December, and is in charge of the business said they went into it because there is high demand of chicken products.
They train farmers on various aspects of poultry farming and offer extension services. The business that employs four people is incubated at Egerton University’s Centre of Excellence for Livestock Innovation and Business (CoELIB).
“When the centre called for applications for students’ innovators in 2016, we applied by writing a comprehensive business plan and won Sh250,000 funding,” he added.
According to him, farmers want to get into poultry farming because it is less intensive and there is quick cash flow.
“It is this gap we are now exploiting by making use of the skills we learnt at the university,” explained Ouma, adding in a good month, they make Sh50,000 and get clients from up to Rwanda, Malawi, Zambia and Tanzania.
Besides extension services, they host clinics for farmers where they charge groups between Sh15,000 – Sh20,000 and train them on how to brand their products, whom to approach to get the correct market prices and funding and how to present and preserve their products to shield them from loses and poultry management aspects.
DAIRY CONSULTANCY MAKING THE DIFFERENCE
Felix Opinya, 25
The founder of Dairy Cloud started the enterprise some 10 months ago and part of his capital was Sh50,000 from his savings.
“The business is hosted within the university and offers a range of services that include dairy farmer advisory services where we have two groups – those who want to start dairy farming and those who are in dairy farming. For starters, we begin with farm feasibility and then do a comprehensive dairy business investment plan,” said Opinya, who is a Masters student in Animal Breeding and Genetics.