Agribusiness might just be the next big thing.....
Kenya is rich in Agricultural research, yet people don’t know about it
Agribusiness is the next big thing according to Mburu Njunge, an innovator and an entrepreneur with a Degree in Agriculture and Enterprise development at Kenyatta University. He might be on to something with that observation.Agribusiness is the business of agriculture involving agrochemicals, crop production, breeding, distribution, farm machinery, processing, seed supply and eventually marketing and retail sales.
“Less than 1. 5% of students entering universities choose agriculture as a career”
Meet Mburu Njunge Mburu Njunge might just be 24 years old, would have been an accountant if destiny hadn’t taken it’s course, but while at school he did a project called Convifarm, a sort of Google maps for agribusiness service providers like greenhouse owners, seed distributors etc. It accurately maps the service providers and helps farmers find them to make the channel easier and cut out middlemen who make the process that much more difficult. Through a competition via Strathmore University, Convifarm was able to go to the University of Waterloo where they got support to build their business through a virtual incubator. Jamii labs,the virtual incubator, connects those in the third world to those in the first world with resources to grow as if they were there where the ventures are thriving. This really helped them progress further and he is now already working on his second project. He has now graduated from University but he is still gearing up to do more.
“Kenya is Rich in agricultural research, yet people don’t know about it.There is a need for Agribusiness”
Usomi Limited Currently, Mburu is working with Usomi limited as a product developer. Usomi seeks to have an Africa where precision agriculture is the standard of every African farm. There are two facets to Usomi limited;Genetics where parentage testing, disease testing and composition testing of animals or crops is done.There is also ICT involved where virtual aggregation of produce for farmers is implemented. They are able to shorten the chain for the farmers to the market and therefore end up with better prices, a principal called fair trade.To add on to that, Usomi limited has implemented a decision support tool. It advises farmers with their crop production using the farmer’s data of his or her own crops and animals as opposed to having a general form of feedback.There’s a project in Tanzania and Nigeria to distribute 6 million poultry to 2.4 million households. Usomi's decision support tool is the one being used to monitor the progress of this monumental project.
So why is it that Mburu believes that agribusiness is the next big thing? With the likely take over by blockchain where traditional methods of doing business will most likely change and render a lot of manpower to be unnecessary-like banking crossing over to fintech. Agriculture and the creatives industry will be the last men standing.It will be business as usual for them.
Mburu is set to begin his Masters in Business Entrepreneurship and Technology at the University of Waterloo. He was awarded a scholarship courtesy of the MasterCard Foundation. Mburu wants to come back and through an initiative he is working on, help local agripreneurs with their startups. He feels that support for what is local is lacking. It is often awarded to expat-led start ups while the local startup whose ideas are good and show promise are ignored or offered less support. This he attributes to the fact that investors are aware of the rampant corruption here so it is understandable why investors would choose expat-led innovations to fund.
“Agribusiness is the world's oldest largest and most important industry”
On the question of what reforms are necessary for entrepreneurs to prosper, Mburu knows it is possible. How? First off, incubation centers should be supported.He strongly believes that to a point where if 10 million dollars landed on his lap, half of it would go to supporting incubators for start-ups. Media support would also be key. Most startups burn through their budget through marketing.
Creating Awareness Giving agriculture as an example, awareness is necessary through radio and newspapers which are the platforms mostly used by farmers. Media would also gain from this as there are more SMEs than there are big corporations and MMEs. Finally, first priority should be given to local innovations before considering imported innovation. Copyright laws should also be in place as a first stop for expatriate startups.Look at China; a country with a very high population but has government support for local innovations.
The youth need to get into agribusiness and embrace the industry. Agribusiness is evolving and growing to include technology. This in turn creates jobs. We cannot all be doctors or investment brokers, but investment brokers and doctors need to eat. That is why it is important to grow agribusiness and continue supporting farmers who are the backbone of the industry.
Mburu ten years from now? He sees himself as a billionaire and he will invest in Africa because the potential Africa has is in the trillions of dollars...we agree 100%.