Tuesday, February 9, 2016

How a visit to grandma led me to a food venture

By VALENTINE OBARA
More by this Author

An ordinary visit to her grandmother’s home was all it took Ms Easter Kojuang to embark on her business journey.

In August 2015, she was helping her grandmother harvest groundnuts at her farm in Lambwe Valley, Homa Bay County, when a business idea struck her.
“I thought to myself, why not add value to the groundnuts that we produce...and that’s how this business was born,” says the 24-year-old Master of Business Administration student at the University of Nairobi.

The venture, East Natural Foods has gone through a series of challenges that are common for most start-ups. But Ms Kojuang has stayed the course and now her enterprise is steadily making good progress. She now makes honey and ghee besides peanut butter, peanut powder and roasted nuts.

“My grandma has been making groundnuts products since I was a child so I just learned from her. She has also been making ghee for a very long time because that is what we use (for cooking) at home. As for honey I had to get training,” says Ms Kojuang.

Just as is the norm with budding entrepreneurs, raising capital was among the major challenges she encountered.

“I started my business with only Sh9,000. I bought groundnuts, took it to a miller close to my home, processed it, bought containers, and packed it,” she says, adding that the business currently earns her a minimum of Sh60,000 per month.

Today, she has a commercial grinder which she uses to produce peanut butter, but she still makes ghee and honey using traditional methods.

In order to beat marketing challenges and cut costs, the young entrepreneur utilises social media such as WhatsApp and Facebook, besides word of mouth. She also relies on referrals from her loyal customers to reach out to potential buyers. Besides, she hands out free samples.

HEALTH CONSCIOUS GROUPS

“Through my East Natural Foods page on Facebook, I have been able to reach very many people including those who are abroad. I normally depend on relatives and friends who travel to foreign countries to supply my products to my customers in those countries,” she said.

Most of her customers are women from health-conscious groups, but her goal is to supply supermarkets, hotels and other large institutions.
Ms Kojuang is unfazed by the competition. She banks on her “unique products” which she says are good for health.

“My products are 100 per cent natural and organic. They have no artificial additives or preservative. This is good for everyone’s health including children and the elderly,” she explains.

One of her biggest hurdles is getting raw materials, especially groundnuts.

Although groundnuts farming is common in western Kenya, it is usually done seasonally and in small scale.

At times, she imports the nuts from Uganda and Malawi at higher costs. This means her profit margins get thinner.

“I mostly get peanuts from Nyanza around Ndhiwa, Lambwe Valley and Rongo. I source honey from various beekeepers in Ukambani, Baringo and Samburu,” she says.

For ghee production, most dairy farmers are contracted by large firms that produce dairy products, making it hard fro her to get constant supply.

Ms Kojuang says lack of seed capital and access to necessary information are the key setbacks that potential entrepreneurs face. She added that the current education system is largely theoretical and does not impart practical business skills.

“The government should make it easier for youths who want to start businesses to access capital and also lower interest rates for them and provide them with training.

“Our education system does not train us on the practicality of business.”

advertisement

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Online marketing: Making your start-up to stand out

By LILIAN OCHIENG'
More by this Author

Loraine Mwenesi, a fashion boutique owner in Nairobi, sells most of her wares on social media. She says marketing her goods on the sites have greatly boosted her earnings.

Like Ms Mwenesi, many other start-up owners use Facebok, Whatsapp and Twitter to market their goods and services.

Clearly online marketing is increasingly getting popular, especially in Kenya. Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) statistics for the 2015-16(July–June) financial year state that the number of Internet users in Kenya is now at 31.9 million. In the previous quarter, the number of Internet users was at 29.6. 

“Consequently, the portion of the Kenyan population accessing internet services reached 74.2 per 100 inhabitants up from 69 per 100 inhabitants recorded in the previous quarter,” the report states.

 The surge in the number on Internet users is attributed to the emergence of new electronic commerce services in Kenya’s rapidly expanding telecoms market. Since almost every Kenyan in an urban setting has a smart mobile phone, it has now become very easy to access the Internet.

 This is driving entrepreneurs to leverage on the online platforms to sell their wares and this means stiff competition. Therefore, for your services and products to stand out you have to come up with ingenious marketing methods.  

The normal trend now is to open a social media account and try to access the various markets that deal with specific products that one is selling.
To gain from these social media platforms, entrepreneurs have to be strategic in marketing their products.

Ms Mwenesi says it took her long to gain ground in the virtual market. When she started out, there were some days when not a single person looked at her clothes or commented on her posts. She realised that at first, her goods were not selling as much as she expected them.

Ms Mwenesi told Money that to stand out on Facebook and Twitter, she first had to engage her audience with attractive and inspirational entrepreneur stories that she frequently shared on her wall.

“I had to be known first, my audience had to find the need to buy my goods. I could only attract them by constantly engaging them.”

“With time, as I struck conversations with a lot of people on the sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, they began recognising my brand and they could even go as far as inquiring how and where to access the goods,” said Mwenesi.

She learned that the “Internet doesn’t sell goods unless there is serious packaging and branding”.

Also, she told Money that honesty, integrity and timely deliveries helped her get clients who are outside Nairobi, that she has maintained to date.

Mr Kamotho Njenga, an expert on virtual markets who is also the Secretary General of Information Communication Technology Association of Kenya (ICTAK), says when Internet marketing is executed in the right way it can lead to a surge in profits. 

“At the moment, as many as 80 per cent of customers are searching for specific products online, paying cash on delivery. Whatever makes them like a product is branding,” said Mr Kamotho. 

CROSS SELLING

His sentiments are backed by research and advisory firm McKinsey&Company which states that to sell widely, a business man must take time to study its target market as well as brand and package his products accordingly.

“Cross selling and category penetration techniques increase sales by 20 per cent and profits by 30 per cent,” said the research and advisory firm. 

The firm points out the value that businesses get from analysing customer purchase history to recommend products that they are able to buy, in case they do not like the already existing ones.

It is also important to identify and predict attitude preferences based on customer purchases. This, McKinsey &Co states, helps to inform the retailers’ purchasing decisions.

In a case study of a specific retailer, the firm states that after identifying the approaches and proving their values, through a set of pilot tests, “we worked with the retailer to build the organisational, process, and IT capabilities necessary to support them.”

UK entrepreneur expert Robert Tyson in his research, The 7 Best Online Marketing Tools For More Traffic, Better Leads & Faster Sales, states that the Search Engine Optimised (SEO) is among the top things that will propel a start-up in marketing.

“Search engine optimisation is often considered by some as the holy grail of Internet marketing. You now have to delve deeper into learning how to use this SEO to rank your site higher in Google,” the study states.

As you continue marketing your products, experts advise that you have to make sure you are accessible on mobile devices. This is a sure way to gain an edge on your competition and be accessible by consumers on whatever device they decide.

This also implies that your mobile number that you have shared on the Twitter, Facebook, and WhatsApp sites must always be accessible. Your sites must also be flexible and easy to navigate, giving a view of all your products at a glimpse.

Mr Tyson recommends that an entrepreneur should also learn web analytics, taking it seriously as a big step in business. This will show you what your customers are doing on your site, on which web pages they leave your site, and in some cases how long they have been a customer. By learning these trends, you will also know how to retain them.

“Get yourself on Google Places, this is an answer to the good old yellow pages, and yes even if you haven’t made a shilling, you’re going to want to be found on Google Places,” experts on Business2Community website also state.

advertisement

Monday, February 8, 2016

Govt urged to effect payments through mobile money

The Government could help fuel the high growth

The Government could help fuel the high growth of mobile money transactions if it made payments through cell phones. PHOTO | FILE 

By OTIATO GUGUYU
More by this Author

The Government could help fuel the high growth of mobile money transactions if it made payments through cell phones.

A study by research analysts Moody’s says authorities can facilitate the expansion of financial penetration by increasing volumes transacted across mobile phone platforms.

Moody’s say, high volumes create incentives for both existing and new agents to invest in this business and, in turn, further reduce transaction costs.

“Government payments through mobile accounts, such as social cash transfer payments and civil servant salaries, are examples of how authorities can facilitate an increase in volumes,” the report said.

This year, the Government has allocated Sh7.4 billion for Cash Transfer Programme to support people aged 65 years and above.
The government is providing Sh2,000 monthly to identified households in all the 47 counties.

The population of older persons globally has been increasing rapidly. According to the 2009 National Population and Housing Census, the population of older persons stood at 1.9 million and was projected to reach 3 million in 2030 in Kenya.

The Moody’s report, Banks and Sovereigns – Sub-Saharan Africa Mobile Phone Banking Supportive of Economic Growth and Banking Sector Prospects, also urges the state to give a free hand to innovation to allow the development of new products.

FASTEST RISE

“The regulator should allow companies to innovate and test their services outside the confines of strict regulation. Safaricom, for example, was offered a “no objection” letter that allowed the company to innovate and pilot test its services,” the report said.

Africa has seen the world’s fastest rise in people opening new bank accounts – fuelled by mobile phone banking.

Mobile banking technology has allowed lenders to target new customers directly with minimal transaction and overhead costs and without an extensive network of branches.

They are also able to boost their revenues by offering users access to a wider array of banking products on the mobile platform.

While the number of physical banks and staff has grown by less than a third, the number of customers shot over the roof.

One employee now serves an average of 770 customers, while in 1996 the same employee was serving an average of 60 customers.

advertisement

Friday, February 5, 2016

Counties to benefit from Sh6.3 billion for irrigation farming

African Development Bank (AFDB) director for the East Africa Resource Centre Gabriel Negatu (left) with National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich during the signing of a multi-billion loan for the food initiative executed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries on February 4, 2016 in Nairobi. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA |

African Development Bank (AFDB) director for the East Africa Resource Centre Gabriel Negatu (left) with National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich during the signing of a multi-billion loan for the food initiative executed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries on February 4, 2016 in Nairobi. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By EDWIN OKOTH
More by this Author

Kenya has signed a Sh6.3 billion financial facility to aid irrigation and agricultural activities in 11 counties.

The financing from the African Development Bank comprises Sh4 billion loan and Sh2.3 billion grant and will be used to fund small-scale irrigation activities among others meant to enhance the country’s food security.

Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich on Thursday said the funds are given under favourable conditions from the bank with Kenya having been rebased to a lower mid income economy.

“This is the first project to benefit from the non-concessional AfDB window after Kenya attained eligibility.

Compared to other external sources, which have shorter periods, we are receiving a 25 year-term loan at about 2 per cent interest and with a grant component to it.

The challenge is now for the implementers of this plan to ensure we complete the projects within the required period to avoid paying extra interest due to delays in completion,” Mr Rotich said in Nairobi.

COUNTIES TO BENEFIT

The Small Scale Irrigation and Value Addition Project will be carried out in Kitui, Makueni, Tharaka Nithi, Nyandarua, Murang’a, Kajiado, Nyeri, Machakos, Tana River, Bomet and Meru counties.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries will be the key implementer of the initiative that will see 12 irrigation schemes rolled out on close to 3,000 hectares of land.

The plan includes the construction of 300 kilometres of access roads, post-harvesting crop storage facilities, water conservation and improved value chains.

Farmer organisations will also be strengthened with training done for target producers.

IMPROVE LIVES

AfDB Regional Director for the East Africa Resource Centre Gabriel Negatu said the six-year project will be transformative to the lives of several households in targeted areas.

“Through this project, 30,000 households including 90,000 children will benefit from better nutrition.

Further, average household incomes are expected to rise effectively contributing to poverty eradication,” he said.

Although the role of the National government was clearly laid out, it was not immediately clear how the devolved units would be involved with the Mr Rotich saying he had planned a meeting with governors on Friday to outline modalities of implementing projects with such funding.

A similar project on medical equipment last year caused a major row between the national government and the county counterparts.

advertisement

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Agriculture CS urged to base policy on new tech

Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture Mr Willy

Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture Mr Willy Bett. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By JAMES KARIUKI
More by this Author

New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Chief Executive Dr Ibrahim Mayaki said Kenyan and other African politicians must allow scientific innovations and technologies to guide agricultural policy for economic progress.

“It is clear that the stiff global competition in agricultural productivity, trade and food systems calls for innovation, backed by science and technology. It is a must do for African countries if they wish to remain competitive,” he said.

Agriculture and livestock Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett told the 15th anniversary fete at the Biosciences eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) in Kabete that collaborations between government agencies and researchers will be increased so as to spur agricultural transformation within the rural farming communities.

“The hallmark of BecA-ILRI hub is to address Africa’s agricultural challenges using state of art biotechnology which has made significant contribution towards staple crops improvement for high production, better nutrition, healthy livestock hardy crop and livestock that withstands harsh conditions,” he said.

Remain competitive

BecA-ILRI hub mainly deals in livestock and crops biosciences research as well as providing a hub for training of researchers.

Among its successes include the goat breeding programmes with smallholder farmers in Cameroon and Ethiopia as well as enhanced food safety focusing on aflatoxins detection and measurements in maize in Kenya and Tanzania.

In its fifteen years of existence BecA-ILRI has developed suitable livestock feeds, using the Brachiaria grass leading to improved milk production. African scientists also boast of a state of the art facility that enables them to produce innovative agricultural solutions for Africa.

 

advertisement

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Nairobi water and electricity expo takes off

Soul marketing manager Mohammed Attia (in white shirt), the Water and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa (centre) and Egypt's ambassador to Kenya Mahmoud Talaat during the official opening session of the Water, Electricity and Power Expo (WEPEX) in Nairobi on February 2, 2016. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU  

By EDWIN OKOTH
More by this Author

Water and electricity industry stakeholders are converging in Nairobi to showcase the latest technology and explore opportunities in the sector.

The three day event is expected to attract 4,000 delegates in Kenya’s largest Water, Electricity and power Expo with ten countries registered to participate.

While officiating the opening of the Expo, Water and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa said Kenya offers many opportunities in the water and electricity sectors with potential of high returns for investors.

“The current demand for water and electricity in Kenya is high due to the growing population and the increased urbanization. There are huge opportunities for those seeking to invest in these two utilities in both generation and supply and you are all welcome to explore them. The government alone cannot meet these needs and we need partnership with the private sector and investors as well,” Mr Wamalwa told delegates.

Water demand

He said the government will require additional Sh1.5 trillion or 100 billion every year to meet the water demands for all by 2030 as stated in the Sustainable Development Goals. Currently, the government allocates Sh40 billion annually for water and irrigation.

Investors from Egypt made a majority of delegation led by the Country’s Ambassador to Kenya Mahmoud Ali Dalaat.

The Egyptian envoy urged for the formation of a direct shipping route from Alexandria to Mombasa to boost trade ties between the two countries.

“Kenya and Egypt trade goods worth USD 500 million while we have to ship goods all the way to Singapore or Emirates first which is very expensive. We need to find a direct route to ensure we can reach Kenya easily and boost this trade volumes to double in three years,” Mr Suleiman said.

The Expo concludes on Thursday with several partnerships expected to be signed including clean energy supply and water treatments in counties.

advertisement

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Managing your agribusiness with simple checklists

Ms Julie Githinji inspects her coffee plants in Nyeri in August, 2015. Coffee farmers are complaining that a good number of diseases led by leaf rust have become resistant to many fungicides in the market. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Ms Julie Githinji inspects her coffee plants in Nyeri in August, 2015. Coffee farmers are complaining that a good number of diseases led by leaf rust have become resistant to many fungicides in the market. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By IRENE RIUNGU
More by this Author

As your agribusiness grows, you must develop scalable (incremental) management and quality control systems.

A management structure must be put in place to ensure accountability against established benchmarks (targets) as well as to make sure quality control of your goods and services remains constant as your business grows.

Therefore, each position’s duties and responsibilities should be defined in writing. An organisational chart should be made and maintained, which clearly defines who is responsible for what, who reports to whom, on what subjects, and how often.

QUALITY CONTROL SYSTEM

You must make sure that the quality of your goods or services is maintained despite the growth.

As such, you must determine what elements should exist in a quality control system and then assign the responsibility of maintaining that quality to someone within your management model or yourself.

A quality control system enables you to ensure your systems work every day.

For every business, quality control will differ. If you operate a greenhouse, the benchmarks may be overall sales as measured against knowledge of the product or responsiveness.

For a dairy farm, one may need to make sure that the work being performed is consistent so that the products leaving the business are perfect, or within measured perfection, for example good quality milk or cheese.

Once established, a manager or management team (this may constitute members of the family), must be specifically assigned to oversee the execution of the system (greenhouse, dairy or poultry farm, whatever is the business for as long it has inputs, a transformative process and predetermined outputs, it is a system). You need to be able to point to one person and say that they are responsible for the quality of your business’ goods or services.

This structure should grow at the same rate as the rest of your business. For instance, let’s say your poultry business originally consisted of two casual workers. Your initial quality control systems can be managed by one of them who reports to you.

If you grow to 10 casual workers responsible for a larger business, it is reasonable to assume you will now need two quality control supervisors. The actual number will vary for every business. It suffices to say that you must know that it has to grow alongside your workforce.

Also within that growth, the added quality control team must have its own division of responsibility with well-defined roles for quality control of the company.

Now that you have created a scalable management model with a defined quality control system, it’s time to execute it to perfection.

It is very effective to use daily and weekly checklists to make sure individuals are performing their assigned tasks in a consistent manner.

A checklist, also known as check sheet, is a simple document that is used for collecting data in real time (as it occurs) and at the location where the data is generated.

If it is a dairy farm, the checklist (see below) should be glued to the wall or hang on a clip board from a nail (best option) in the animal shed.

The checklist is one of the seven basic tools of quality control pioneered by Dr Kaoru Ishikawa, one of the gurus of quality management.

The other six are pareto diagram, cause and effect diagram, control charts, flow charts, histograms and scatter diagrams.

The checklist is typically a blank form that is designed for quick, easy, and efficient recording of the desired information, which can be either quantitative (numbers) or qualitative (colour or gender).

When the information is quantitative, the check sheet is sometimes called a tally sheet.

A defining characteristic of a check sheet is that data is recorded by making marks (checks) on it.

A typical check sheet is divided into regions, and marks made have different significance.

Data is read by observing the location and number of marks on the sheet.

FIVE BASIC TYPES OF CHECK SHEETS

i) CLASSIFICATION CHECK SHEET: A trait such as a defect must be classified into a category. If you just kept track of the total defects, you would know that you had 101 defects.

That is somewhat useful but that, in and of itself, does not provide much insight as to which day is the worst day or which source of defects is in the worst shape.

With a classification check sheet, it provides a visual overview of the problem areas. An example of a classification checklist is given on the left.

ii) DEFECT LOCATION CHECK SHEET: The physical location of a trait is indicated on a picture, or illustration of a part or item being evaluated.

Instead of just keeping track of the number of defects, the defect location check sheet can reveal an area of the product that tends to see most of the defects, say for instance the upper right hand corner.

Once this is known, the team can go back to the process to see what it is about the place that is causing the defects.

In a dairy farm, a cow may have developed sores. A sketch of the cow should be made showing the location of the sores. 

iii) FREQUENCY CHECK SHEET: The presence or absence of a trait or combination of traits is captured in this sheet.

Also, number of occurrences of a trait on a product can be indicated.

For instance, if you just tracked the number of defects, you may not realise that wrong colour has the highest frequency of occurrence.

Furthermore, if wrong colour was not broken down further, you might not realise that green is giving you the most defects.

 iv) MEASUREMENT SCALE CHECK SHEET

This is divided into intervals and measurements, which are indicated by checking an appropriate interval.

For instance, a front-line (the person physically handling the product or directly providing service to the customer) quality control manager may have a daily checklist of five quality control matters to be reviewed on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and so on.

They are responsible on each of those days for performing those tasks and then recording that they have been completed.

The manager above them has his or her own checklist of matters to do, which include checking with the subordinate managers daily to make sure that they performed all of their assigned tasks.

It is a simple structure but vital to making sure the systems that are created are executed.

The person responsible for executing the front-line systems reports to their manager that they have been completed.

That manager then reports to their supervisor that all tasks have, or have not been done as required.

If all works properly, we are only speaking about a few minutes out of your day to deal with the reporting of the underlying systems.

v) CHECK LIST:

The items to be performed are listed so that as each is accomplished, it can be marked as having been completed.

Numbers do not lie. Finally, even when you set up the systems and grow management and quality control, you must always be mindful of the numbers. Numbers don’t lie.

If used properly, they will tell you where additional oversight or changes are needed within your agribusiness to increase efficiency, sales, and quality.

Assume, for instance, that your sales are great. They are growing at an unbelievable pace yet your financial records tell you something is wrong.

That your expenses are outpacing your revenue growth. The numbers don’t lie and they will tell you more about the health of your business than anything else.

What do you do when the numbers tell a story you don’t like? Use them. Use them to determine what the problem is.

Create a system to fix the problem and then assign it to someone to manage and run to perfection 100 per cent of the time.

How to begin? Break down your business into subsystems and for each, assign someone (this someone could be you if the business is small), to be responsible.

They must use checklists which they then forward to you every week.  You scrutinise these filled up lists for variations, then make the decision as the leader on the way forward.

The writer works in the Faculty of Commerce, Management Science department, Egerton University.

advertisement

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

We use nipple drinkers for better hygiene and easy medication

Mr Joseph Muraguri in his farm in Kibingoti village in Kirinyaga County where he uses the nipple drinking system. PHOTO | FAITH NYAMAI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Mr Joseph Muraguri in his farm in Kibingoti village in Kirinyaga County where he uses the nipple drinking system. PHOTO | FAITH NYAMAI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By FAITH NYAMAI
More by this Author

Off the Karatina-Sagana highway in Kirinyaga County sits Kibingoti village, where farming is residents’ mainstay.

Farms are dotted with maize, arrowroots, beans, French beans and bananas.

In Joseph Muraguri farm, while he grows some of those crops, chicken rearing is his main venture.

With his wife Margaret, he keeps 450 chickens on their eighth-acre farm in a business they started in 2011.

But unlike many farmers who have abandoned the layers altogether or keep only the new breeds like Kuroiler or Kari Kienyeji, the two rear both.

They keep 260 layers and 190 Kuroiler birds, 30 which are cockerels, a venture Muraguri calls mixed poultry farming.

They rear the two breeds in separate storied coops made of wood to prevent interbreeding. The layers occupy the lower coop while the Kuroilers the top.

“We keep the layers mainly for the production of eggs, which are fairly priced and do well in the market while the Kuroilers are for our hatchery business. The two breeds supplement each other,” explains Muraguri.

“When the chicks are yet to hatch, we are always in the business of selling eggs from the layers to enable us buy feeds and pay farm bills.”

Their incubator has a capacity of 3,168 eggs and going by the number of Kuroiler hens they have, it does not run to capacity.

They collect 170 to 190 eggs daily from the layers and between 110 and 130 eggs from the Kuroilers.

“We put an average of 600 eggs every week in the incubator enabling us to hatch an average of 400 chicks weekly. We put the eggs at intervals to ensure we get chicks every week,” says Muraguri, adding that they sell surplus fertilised eggs from the Kuroilers at Sh25 each.

The couple sell day-old chicks for Sh100, week-old at Sh120, two weeks old at Sh150, three weeks at Sh200 and four weeks old at Sh250 each.

A tray of eggs from layers goes for Sh280 while the fertilised eggs from Kuroilers go for Sh750 or Sh25 each.

SUFFERING LOSSES

According to Muraguri, their greatest challenge is the high cost of chicken feeds and drop in prices of unfertilised eggs to as low as low Sh9 each.

Muraguri says he decided to keep the two breeds after suffering losses.

“With my wife Margaret, I started with keeping quails but no sooner had we reaped from our business than it went under.

We also tried broilers and poor market made the going tough for us,” says Muraguri, noting they sunk over Sh200,000 in the two agribusinesses.

Unbowed, the couple then moved to keeping the layers and the Kuroilers.

“We invested Sh100,000 in the initial project which we used to buy wood, water tanks, pipes and the nipple water drinkers. We further invested Sh220,000 in the incubator.”

The drinkers are the other farming practice that makes their chicken farm stand out.

The couple invested in the nipple drinkers for better hygiene due to minimum spillage.

“The drinking system is easy to clean, allows easy access of the birds to the drinking water and provision of medication or other additives through the drinker and there is less ammonia in the poultry house,” said Muraguri, adding it is a system that one makes using locally available materials.

Plastic pipes are among the materials he used to make the system.

They feed the layers 30kg layers mash daily while the Kuoilers consume 25kg. The couple disposes both the layers and Kuroilers after about 15 months to traders in Karatina, Nyeri, Sagana and Kibingoti shopping centre. Doris Wambui, an agricultural officer at Wambugu Agricultural Training College in Nyeri, says the only challenge with keeping separate hybrid breeds is cross-breeding.

“Cross-breeding the hybrids erodes the original breeds and tends to interfere with genes, leading to weaker birds. It is advisable you ensure they do not breed.”

She encourages farmers to de-beak their hens to prevent them from pecking eggs and each other.

“Farmers can use a beak treater which resembles a nail cutter to make the beaks blunt.

She further advised farmers to use the nipple drinkers to maintain high levels of hygiene as the chickens do not dip their beaks in the drinking water.

advertisement

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Diary of a poultry farmer: Why not sell meat per kilo?

Traders sell chicken at the Kisumu municipal market in 2013. Selling live birds disadvantages farmers especially if the chicken has a higher weight. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Traders sell chicken at the Kisumu municipal market in 2013. Selling live birds disadvantages farmers especially if the chicken has a higher weight. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By SUBIRI OBWOGO
More by this Author

Like many other farmers, I do direct marketing of my poultry products that include meat, chicks and eggs by word of mouth because marketing channels are undefined.

But I must admit this kind of channel is not very effective as it leaves farmers at the mercy of unscrupulous middlemen.

About 20 crates of fertilised eggs are sitting in my store because the price offered by the middlemen cannot offset my production costs.

I have tried marketing using social media networks but I have realised brokers too have invaded the forums masquerading as end-users or grocery operators, thus, distorting the market.

Now, as I go about trying to find the best channel to market my meat, eggs and chicks, I have learnt a few things, chief among them is that customers are increasingly interested in buying poultry products with special attributes.

“I prefer meat from indigenous birds because it is lean, has flavour and is an organic product,” a customer recently told me.

Those who prefer broilers normally say, “The meat is tender and lacks the strong odour found in some indigenous birds.”

Some customers prefer hens to cocks for meat. Selling a hen at the same price as a cock is a loss because I can get about 200 eggs a year, which can be sold as fertilised eggs at Sh25 each or as day-old chicks at Sh100 each.

BALANCING INTERESTS

A good farmer should always try to balance and meet all the interests of his customers.

But it is with poultry meat that I have experimented with an innovative idea that I believe it is the route farmers who are keeping improved chicken breeds like Kenbro, Kuroiler and Kari Kienyeji should take if we are to make profit.

I have been selling my Kari Kienyeji cocks per kilo as opposed to a general price per live bird.

The reason is that these improved birds have high-feed conversion, therefore, they gain weight progressively as opposed to the traditional birds or broilers.

A mature improved breed cock can weigh from 2 to 2.5kg in a few weeks as opposed to the others that average 1.5kg.

Thus, when a farmer sells a kilo at Sh500 or thereabout, they benefit more than selling at a flat rate of Sh800 or Sh1,000.

I recently sold a live cock for a flat rate of Sh1,000 and the cold-dressed (carcass) weight was 2.7kg.

The customer was happy and ordered a second one, though I realised I had incurred a loss.

However, on realising the cold dressed weight for the second bird was 1.7kg, he insisted to pay Sh700. I politely declined.

Certainly, it will take time to convince customers to buy per kilo.

But it is good to note that selling per kilo may not apply to all chicken breeds as a live bird can weigh half a kilo more than a cold-dressed one, meaning for the broilers, which are sold at eight weeks, and the indigenous birds, these may disadvantage farmers.

All in all, there is added value in selling chicken when it is processed and packed.

In some leading supermarkets, one now finds the improved chicken birds packed and labelled and this increases prices by about 50 per cent.

Always wrap the meat in cling film before putting in a plastic bag and avoid recycled bags.

Put the meat in a freezer immediately if not delivered within the hour to avoid food poisoning.

IMPROVED CHICKEN BREEDS

When it comes to eggs, the issue of the cost of an egg from a kienyeji chicken relative to that from exotic ones keeps coming up.

Generally, many farmers sell Kienyeji eggs at Sh20 each compared to Sh10 from exotic birds.

We need more research to understand at what price customers will forgo the benefits of a Kienyeji egg (yellowness and taste) and opt for exotic one because it is cheaper.

Ultimately, production costs, in particular the cost of feeds, should be factored in.

The great disparity in prices is what is making many farmers find it difficult to sell eggs from improved chicken breeds.

For chicks, farmers who want to buy to rear always want to know whether I maintain my own breeding stock of fertilised eggs or whether I outsource from other farms. This is important because when one outsources, you are never sure of the quality and some farmers have complained that they were sold chicks that performed poorly.

I also keep a comprehensive record of the following dates: incubation, hatching, and vaccination schedule up to laying point at week 19. Do not accept to be told verbally that the chicks were vaccinated. Insist to see complete records for the first and second Gumboro vaccines; first, second and third Newcastle vaccines, fowl typhoid and fowl pox.

However, things don’t always go as planned. Last week, I had to refund Sammy from Kitengela his

advertisement

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

How I make Sh200,000 monthly running a successful agrovet

Joe Mukundi serves a customer at Muwa agrovet in Runyenjes, Embu County. PHOTO | KENNEDY KIMANTHI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Joe Mukundi serves a customer at Muwa agrovet in Runyenjes, Embu County. PHOTO | KENNEDY KIMANTHI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By KENNEDY KIMANTHI
More by this Author

The agrovet in Runyenjes, Embu, is stocked to the brim that one seemingly has no space to turn.

Packets of seeds, fertiliser and farm equipment, among other supplies, sit pretty on the shelves of the shop, smiling back at customers.

Standing at the counter serving a customer with great keenness is 22-year-old Joe Mukundi.

The fourth year Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, Meru University of Science and Technology (MUST) student runs the shop that he inherited from his father and pumped in Sh250,000, Sh150,000 from his savings and the rest from friends.

For about three years now, the young man has effectively juggled school and the business named Muwa Agro-Tech, that his father Kenneth Mugendi, who died in 2005 and was a trained animal health personnel, started.

“When my father died, I was still young. My mother took over the running of the shop, which then was at Kanja market centre. I was helping her all along but after attaining a Certificate in Agriculture from MUST in 2013 and later a diploma in the same course, I took over the management in 2014 and moved the shop to Runyenjes,” says Mukundi, who kept chickens while studying at Moi High School Mbiruri between 2009 and 2012.

To start the shop, one needs a county business permit and certifications from the Pest Control and Products Board (PCPB), the Kenya Veterinary Board and Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis).

“Certificates from these organisation should always be displayed in your shop to give customers confidence that they are buying from a trusted source,” says Mukundi, who does not sell injectable animal drugs.

The agrovet is one of the most popular in the town.

“I sell agrochemicals, feeds, supplements, fertilisers, pumps and other equipment,” he offers, cautioning some of the chemicals and fertilisers should not be exposed to direct sunlight as this is likely to reduce the effectiveness.

The different products must also be arranged in a manner that avoids contamination. And he has ensured this by opening two additional stores to keep pesticides, agro-chemicals and feeds.

“It is a lucrative business, but one can easily make mistakes like stocking fake goods and products. It is important to source drugs from stores certified and recognised government institutions such as Kephis.”

His mother Pheris Karimi helps him run the business, enabling him to attend college.

“However, I regularly keep in touch and check on the business four days in a week.”

GOOD RETURNS

He has four employees, one who has a certificate in vet medicine.

From his business, Mukundi has been able to pay his school fees without any hitches. In a good month, he takes home over Sh200,000.

“Running an agrovet has its highs and low. Profits are high during the planting season when farmers buy seeds and chemicals in plenty and when they harvest. In between is almost a dry season. This business is also capital intensive and great caution has to be taken when dealing with different products.”

It is also not easy to introduce farmers to new products, thus, some products can expire while on the shelves.

“That is why you will find many agrovets do not stock products from several manufacturers. However, with the emergence of new pests and diseases, farmers are embracing modern and pesticides of dealing with such,” he recounts.

As a way of giving back to his customers, Mukundi teams up with a local veterinary organisation to hold open field days where farmers are educated on crop and animal management.

The young entrepreneur emerged third in the 2015 National Farmers Awards Scheme, small-scale agro-input category, a competition organised by Elgon Kenya and Ministry of Agriculture.

“I received the award last December for being able to adequately address farmers’ needs and properly dispense chemicals and drugs. My next plan is to open an even larger agrovet in the town,” he says, noting he heard the competition from friends at the ministry of agriculture and tried his luck.

Prof George Owuor, Head of Egerton University’s Agribusiness Department, says any youth who wants to venture into agribusiness must get training in agricultural courses.

“They should train on entrepreneurship and agribusinesses that have components of value addition. The focus of training should be made viable with examples of successful enterprises. Youths should engage in business that go beyond the farm through the produce, access point of sale and then sell.”

advertisement

Monday, February 1, 2016

Student developers feted for efforts in aid of farmers

Norman Muga (left) of Strathmore University and

Norman Muga (left) of Strathmore University and Mburu Njunge (right) of Kenyatta University, the winners of the 2015 Strathmore- Waterloo Universities Agribusiness Mobile App challenge pose for a photo with Principal Secretary Ministry of Information and Communication Dr Victor Kyalo at Strathmore during the award ceremony. PHOTO | LILIAN OCHIENG 

By LILIAN OCHIENG'
More by this Author

Two Kenyan students have won a fully paid trip to Canada, for developing the best Agribusiness App for iLabAfrica- Waterloo University Agribusiness mobile tech challenge.

Mr Norman Muga, Strathmore University and Mburu Njunge, Kenyatta University will stay at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada for one week.

At an event graced by the Kenya's Ministry of Information and Communication Principal Secretary Dr Victor Kyalo, they were honoured for creating the mobile application ConviFarm.

ConviFarm seeks to provide sustainable solutions for increasing food security and providing better methods of agriculture through the mobile phone. Farmers in remote areas get information on crop protection and veterinary services via the application.

Bottom of the pyramid masses

"Agriculture is the mainstay of at least 80 per cent of the Kenyan population. We chose this sector because it has a direct impact on the bottom of the pyramid masses," said iLabAfrica Director- Dr Joseph Sevilla.

The mobile tech challenge is open to members of the public, students of Strathmore and other universities as well as private applications developers.

Its top prize is a one week trip to Ontario Canada, where winners join other developers around the world in training and incubation. The second prize is a full scholarship for a 6 months Strathmore Entrepreneurship Development Program.

The challenge is employing a virtual incubation technology developed by University of Waterloo's Conrad Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology Centre, to reach and incubate agribusiness mobile app ideas across Kenya. iLabAfrica has been running the system on pilot at its iBizAfrica incubation centre.

Speaking during the award ceremony, Dr Victor Kyalo commended iLabAfrica for delivering global partnerships that deepen technology innovations.

"This centre continues to interest developers to come up with world class innovations and solutions that can impact the bottom of the pyramid in Africa.”

advertisement

Monday, February 1, 2016

Kenya business confidence edges up in January

A lady displays some of her products during an exhibition at the KICC in Nairobi. Under the new law, businesses with an annual turnover of below Sh500,000 and employing less than 10 people will be registered as “micro enterprises”. Photo/Fredrick Onyango

A lady displays some of her products during an exhibition at the KICC in Nairobi. Photo/Fredrick Onyango 

By BRIAN NGUGI
More by this Author

Business confidence among Kenyan firms increased marginally in January this year compared to December last year, a new poll by Standard Chartered shows.

The poll shows that business sentiment as measured by the lender’s Business Sentiment Indicator (BSI), rose 1.3 per cent month on month in January to 63.9, up 9.2 per cent from a year earlier.

Firms polled reported that credit was more freely available, with interest rates paid having fallen in January, they also anticipate a looser monetary policy in the coming months coupled with recent exchange rate stability.

Ease policy

“Businesses appear to share the view that the Central Bank of Kenya will eventually ease policy. Firms reported that the near-term outlook for interest rates was more positive for their businesses," notes the poll. The study shows that Kenyan businesses expect inflation to ease in the coming months.

Despite the rise however, the study’s findings show sentiment was mixed.

While two of the five components of the headline indicator – new orders and order backlogs – which together account for 50 per cent of the headline indicator, increased in January, seven of 15 current conditions indicators fell month on month, says the poll’s findings.

Indicators which fell include inventories which went down by 47.3 per cent.

"However, despite these improvements, corporates’ assessments of their financial positions were little changed, perhaps due to a likely seasonal drop in production post-Christmas,” it says.

The poll also shows Kenyan firms appear cautiously optimistic about near-term prospects.

“The drop in some indicators in January may be due to seasonal effects. Alternatively, they may signal deeper caution over what lies ahead. Also fresh in the minds of some private-sector operators is the tightening of financial-sector liquidity, seen episodically last year, as the CBK liquidated one Kenyan financial institution and took another into receivership,” says the poll.

advertisement

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Firm calls for change in attitude towards entrepreneurship

Kenyans despise entrepreneurship denying it the best people who could innovate products that drive establishment of industries for job creation. PHOTO | FILE 

By JAMES KARIUKI
More by this Author

Kenyans despise entrepreneurship denying it the best people who could innovate products that drive establishment of industries for job creation.

A study released by research, consulting and investment firm entitled ‘Closing the Gap Kenya’ says that people getting into business do so as a last resort after failing in life while astute and intelligent people are pushed by society to study hard and get employed in the public and private sector.

Releasing the report during a journalists’ dinner at Hotel Royale Orchid, Westlands in Nairobi, Intellecap mourned the lack of policy support as well as seed capital to help budding entrepreneurs scale up their businesses and also regularize them so as to operate within the law.

“Many get into business as a matter of necessity to earn money to sustain their families but will quickly quit as soon as other opportunities arise. It is this ‘necessity entrepreneurs’ who succeed but run their businesses informally without proper record-keeping and hardly understand legal requirements for running such businesses,” it says.

The researchers recommended that Small and Medium Enterprises(SMEs) formalise their businesses by keeping proper records and acquiring the necessary legal papers thereby readying their business for expansion.

Lack of skills

“No investor or bank will agree to fund a business without proof of records that gives a brief history of its operations. SMEs must end their hide-and-seek modus operandi and embrace openness which will help any investor to gauge its foundation for expansion,” said the study.

It observed that youth and women entrepreneurs faced additional challenges in accessing capital due to the lack of necessary business skills, appropriate networks and support required to succeed.

“At least 68 per cent of Kenyan enterprises say access to finance is a major hindrance coupled with high interest rates of upto 18 per cent, high cost of recovery for bad debt that stands at 40 per cent of loan amount and poor contract enforcement. Many SMEs are unable to offer collateral and lack of investment ready models,” it says adding that capital markets have also failed to develop products that suit SMEs.

While Nairobi has shown tremendous gain on availability of 20 incubation centres for start-ups, it urged for the devolution of the services to also benefit SMEs outside Nairobi.

The government could do well to support SMEs’ development so as to rope in the 80 per cent workforce into the tax bracket that would raise funds essential for carrying out major development projects that uplift livelihoods.

advertisement

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Small firms ride on standard gauge rail to rake in millions

The standard gauge railway under construction.

The standard gauge railway under construction. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By LILIAN OCHIENG'
More by this Author

Mr William Ndeti is among suppliers who won tenders worth millions to do civil works on the standard gauge railway (SGR). 

His firm Headstream Contractors Ltd, an SME, has been sub-contracted to conduct drainage and slop protection for Sh24.9 million, Herring Bourne skeleton protection at Sh25.5 million and stone pitching at Sh18 million. 

Mr Ndeti’s firm is one of the several SMEs that bagged tenders related to the railway which is nearing completion.

“I have had to employ other 1, 950 suppliers in all sections assigned to me at the SGR. They supply sand, ballast and rock and 90 per cent of them are local. They comprise women, men and youth,” said Mr Ndeti in an interview with Money on Thursday. 

The exposure of SME to large contracts has been made easier with the introduction of the e-procurement platforms that enhance the reach to all small businesses in 47 counties.

Most of the SMEs are run by youth who are exposed to the Internet, increasing their chances of getting the tenders. 

“Measures on procurement currently focus on growing the SMEs which will help push our country to an industrial middle class economy,” said Industrialisation Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohammed at an earlier interview. 

By participating in government tenders, SMEs are bound to expand as they benefit from bigger market in addition to being well-placed to acquire high-end technology, skills as well as deepen their know-how on value addition.

Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia told Money that, “local businesses are expected to contribute up to 40 per cent of all supplies (per project) as a standard set by government.” 

DEDICATION AND EXPERTISE

Other SMEs contracted by China Road and Bridge, the builders of the SGR, are Jubilee African Ltd, Greenersol Landscape, Miangeni Hardware and Contractors  and Leaf Base Services Ltd. 

The SME are paid between Sh5 million to Sh25 million for services which range from pitching stones at the site, protecting the drainage and slop of the rail, planting grass, among others services.

Mr Reuben Kihiko the CEO of Jubilee African Group said handling contracts for major government projects need dedication and expertise. His firm has been subcontracted to take charge of drainage and slope protection along the standard gauge railway route.

“I was contracted mid last year, my business has since transformed because I had to employ 200 more people and restructure the firm’s operations so that I could meet the requirements set for contractors,” said Mr Kihiko. 

China Road and Bridge, he said trained contractors to tailor their services to meet the SGR standards. The suppliers are hired on a long-term contract since they will be handling the projects in future if the need arises.

Mr  Mustafa Hajj, founder of Miangeni hardware and contractors, told Money that his team had to undergo a rigorous selection process. This comprised proving practically the capability of his firm to handle a major project.

Mr Hajj said firms that have embraced technology and prudent management systems are in better positions to win major contracts.

The SMEs, he added are taken through trials to demonstrate the experience and skills they state in their documents.

 “Speed, quality and accuracy also mattered in the project handling. All these were proven through a practical exercise by China Road and Bridge,” said Mr Hajj who supplies hardware material at the SGR offering mortar, rubble, Herring Bourne skeleton (for slope protection) at the site.

He had to employ 700 more people, both skilled and unskilled, to meet the targets set by the China Road and Bridge for completion of the SGR.

advertisement

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

I started my school from house in slum

Willy Mwangi and his wife Priscilla Mwangi during the opening of Destiny Fountain Education Centre in Lanet Nakuru on December 11, 2015. PHOTO | SULEIMAN MBATIAH 

By MAGDALENE WANJA
More by this Author

Mrs Pricilla Mwangi started by offering three children evening lessons but this has grown into a fully-fledged school.

She and her husband Mr Willy Mwangi lived in a small house in Nakuru’s Kwa Murogi slum. In the evening the house was a beehive of activity as it was turned into a classroom. Noises of excited children filled the room.

When she told her husband about the idea of turning the house into a classroom of sorts, he was hesitant. However the couple was jobless and they had to put food on the table. He gave it the green light albeit reluctantly.

Mrs Mwangi then started approaching their neighbours to allow her to coach their children for a small fee. She wanted to teach the children as she looked for a stable job.

The lessons did not take off to a smooth start and she almost gave up when the challenges multiplied. Pupils were hard to come by. It was not easy for her to convince the parents living in the slum on the need to educate their children. She faced a host of other challenges with some of her friends and neighbours casting doubt about her project.

Even the children who were already taking her lessons presented their own set of difficulties. “With the seven pupils’ parents unable to pay fees and some abusing me, I almost gave up,” she recalled.

After one year, her pupils performed better than their peers in the formal schools. This was the breakthrough she needed to take his idea to the next level. More children enrolled for her lessons.

“In the second year I had 25 pupils and I could not hold lessons in my house at Kwa Murogi slums anymore. I opted to rent an empty room,” she recalled adding the her pupils also spoke better English.

More children joined her class as their parents sough to improve their performance. In a short time the number of students shot up from 25 to 65.Soon the news of the nursery school “where children performed brilliantly” spread like a wildfire.

“Despite more opposition from neighbours and friends, soon more children began enrolling for my lessons,” she said with a smile. 

Seeing the prospects of the school getting brighter each day, Mr Mwangi also took to the chalk and started teaching the pupils.

With the number of learners growing in leaps and bounds, the couple rented three more rooms. Soon St Monica Education Centre was born. They began taking in orphans and children whose parents could not afford school fees.

TOO POOR TO AFFORD

Mrs Mwangi employed four other teachers. Because the teachers had to be paid, the school required every parent to pay at least Sh1,000 per term.

“As the population of the pupils increased I was forced to employ other teachers because I could not manage alone,” she said.
Mrs Mwangi noted that most parents were too poor to afford the Sh1,000 fee. Although she faced a series of challenges, her dream of owning a modern school never died. She diligently saved the little she got from the pupils’ parents.

Her husband who had been helping her quit to look for a job in Nairobi in a bid to raise enough money to pay the teachers.

“I had to be employed as a shamba boy ( farm hand) in Nairobi where I was paid Sh9,000 which we used to pay the teachers,” Mr Mwangi told Money.

Ten years since it was set up, St Monicha school registered 14 candidates for their Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examinations last year.

The top student attained 385 marks.Mrs Mwangi said that although they are proud of the results, they are saddened that a good number of pupils dropped out due to early pregnancy and drug abuse.

In January 2014, Mrs Mwangi had saved enough to start a modern school.
“We bought a three acre piece of land in Lanet area in Nakuru where we began construction of classrooms for our first stream,” she said.And as the school opened its doors in December, it will be a dream come true for the Mwangis.

advertisement

Friday, January 22, 2016

Supply certified seeds to boost production: Research

Bean seeds. Crops Act 2013 outlaws the growing, sale and distribution of uncertified seeds. FILE PHOTO | NATIO MEDIA GROUP

Bean seeds. Researchers want certified seeds to be sold at grain stores among other informal markets to enhance availability thereby boosting food production. FILE PHOTO | NATIO MEDIA GROUP 

By JAMES KARIUKI
More by this Author

Researchers want certified seeds to be sold at grain stores among other informal markets to enhance availability thereby boosting food production.

An extensive study has found that while most farmers buy seeds from local shops, they are exposed to substandard seeds where unscrupulous seed producers thrive.

The report published in this month’s Journal of Food Security says that local markets and other informal sources must be considered to help farmers mitigate climate, nutrition and other production challenges in regions where food security remains a major concern.

The survey which looked at some 10,000 seed transactions across five African countries and Haiti discovered that 55 per cent of smallholder farmers in Africa knew the importance of purchasing certified seeds that were disease and drought resistance but had no access to the same.

“64 per cent of seeds for crops like beans and cowpea among other legumes that are an essential source of protein and other nutrients are bought at local markets or from friends but a paltry 2.4 per cent get certified seeds produced by private seed companies and sold through farm supply stores,” it laments.

High yielding varieties

Lead researcher and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Senior Technical Adviser Louise Sperling said food production would remain low since informal sources of seeds denied farmers the high yielding varieties best suited for their regions.

“The challenge is that most of their purchases are going through informal channels like local markets, which do not have access to many of the new crop varieties that could help farmers improve nutrition and adapt to climate change,” she said.

Ms Sperling and her co-author Mr Shawn McGuire said supplying smallholder farmers with a wider selection of crop varieties is a significant and untapped business opportunity for both formal and informal seed sellers.

“International institutions and national governments are aggressively investing in developing new crop varieties specifically intended to help smallholder farmers like beans that can withstand high temperatures, potatoes that are resistant to late season blight and maize that can tolerate droughts,” the study adds.

They mourned that innovations in crop science would be of little value if smallholder farmers were left out in seed delivery.

Mr McGuire said the formal sector must firmly focus on serving the needs of smallholder farmers as this is an important source for seeds.

advertisement

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Viber targets Kenya with live discussion platform

Messaging and call app Viber has introduced a live discussion platform targeting Kenya among other Internet fast countries in Africa and the Middle East. FILE PHOTO |

Messaging and call app Viber has introduced a live discussion platform targeting Kenya among other Internet fast countries in Africa and the Middle East. FILE PHOTO |   NATION MEDIA GROUP

By LILIAN OCHIENG'
More by this Author

Messaging and call app Viber has introduced a live discussion platform targeting Kenya among other Internet fast countries in Africa and the Middle East.

The feature offers a new kind of social experience – tapping into live conversations from celebrities, personalities, brands and organisations.

Mobile users can discover new communities, follow interactive chats in real-time and share original pieces of content with friends and contacts.

“The Middle East and Africa are important markets for Viber, and we are pleased to welcome local influencers and brands to our Public Chats platform,” said Mark Hardy, CMO, Viber.

“We are sure they will enjoy chatting, commenting and debating live on this active social channel whilst sharing tips, news, and local content to our constantly connected mobile audience across the region,” he added.

Selected partners in Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Ivory Coast, and Egypt, have joined ‘Public Chats’ for this regional launch in a bid to be the first players to offer local conversations on Viber.

Partners in Kenya include Xtian Ndela one of the most influential Twitter personalities in Kenya; Eric Kinoti, Serial Entrepreneur and Knowledge Philanthropist; EatOut, Kenya’s largest online restaurant guide and Michael Muthiga, Fatboys animation 3D Animator and Influential Entrepreneur.

"I will be using my Viber Public Chats to talk about entrepreneurship in Africa; this promises to be a great platform to share my own experience as an entrepreneur and invite other entrepreneurs to share tips and advice with our followers," said Mr Kinoti.

"We're excited to be among the first African companies to be on the Viber Public Chats platform,” stated Soni Adriance, Digital Marketing Manager at EatOut Kenya.

“We're always looking for ways to engage with our community in unique and impactful ways. We believe that Viber Public Chats are another avenue to celebrate and highlight the growing culinary industry in Kenya."

advertisement