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AgPowered Entrepreneurship

This is part of our extension programs and is meant to harness and nurture University students with agricultural entrepreneurial skills by providing them with a platform to develop their skills and projects through capacity building and mentorship

 

LESSONS ON ENTREPRENEURSHIP: CASE OF AGRIFRESH SUPPLIES

EGERTON UNIVERSITY OPEN DAY

AgriFresh Supplies is a student initiative under the Msc program, Agri-Enterprise Development in which the students are supposed to come up with business prototypes along-side their academic program. Two brilliant masters students came up with this business that employs a 3-point business focus/model i.e.:

Fresh fruit supplies, AgPowered Entrepreneurship and Agri-Consultancy. This business is an Msc Agri-Enterprise Development student project and as a course requirement, they are required to start up a business (AGRD 770 – Entrepreneurship Business Prototype C.F 6.0).

AgPowered Entrepreneurship is a mentorship program targeting other students in the university to enhance entrepreneurial skills among students in the university and others in the society. Agri-Consultancy on the other hand is a product where we help people do business by preparing business plans for them, branding their businesses, financial management, business branding and running agribusiness clinics as part of our CSR. (Visit their website www.agfreshsupplies.com).

After a long struggle to acquire space to show-case their products during the University Open Day, the proprietors behind the success of AgriFresh Supplies were able to share with us their experience during this day in terms of lessons on entrepreneurship as a result of their experience on this day.

  1. The entrepreneur’s intent: this is the driving force of the entrepreneur as it clearly defines the course of action an entrepreneur intends to take. It is the state of mind that directs attention, experience and action towards a business concept. AgriFresh had a clear vision which was to exhibit and by extension sell during the open day. This intention led to creation of a new product and business idea within Egerton University.
  2. Be fast and first in identifying a business opportunity – a good entrepreneur is one who grabs available chance first then moves fast with it before other players come in; this was according to Dickson Okello, a director at AgriFresh Supplies. A point that Dickson Otieno, the other partner at AgriFresh Supplies underscores. By adding that creativity makes an idea stand out among several other ideas.
  3. Run the business enthusiastically with a clear knowledge of products or services an entrepreneur intends to engage in. for AgriFresh Supplies, this was their first experience in the market which made them identify a niche in the market. This test of the market made them carry out projections of the market dynamics which led to informed future decisions.
  4. Create value of your enterprise regardless of the size – creating value of a business enterprise means doing all it takes to have your business stand out. This involves business branding and selling passionately. It involves defending your brand and ensuring high quality of products and services delivered. Dickson Otieno puts it nicely that Innovation is the second name of Entrepreneurship as they go together when ensuring success in a product line.
  5. Successful entrepreneurs also experience Temporal Tension – this is because of complex roles and the entrepreneur’s experience that make them manage time more differently than those who have specified roles like those in formal employment. Time is often or essence to an entrepreneur. Like during the open day, AgriFresh had to make quite a number of visits to seek authorization to do business. Time was of essence but am sure they were able to do their best within the available time.

From the pictures AgriFresh Supplies shared with us for this day, they must have made good money despite the fact that they were non-committal on this issue when asked.

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EGERTON UNIVERSITY GRADUATION CEREMONY AND NAKURU ASK SHOW

This article gives our experience as entrepreneurs and more so student entrepreneurs for Msc. Agri-enterprise Development. First and foremost, everyone looks at failure as such a bad thing people really need a new name for it to get rid of the negative connotation. Failure is progress. What I've learned from being a student entrepreneurs  that you just need to wake up and do it - - whatever it is you do, you need to do it perfectly every day whether people tell you it's going to work or not because "reality" isn't the mother of invention, creativity and will-power and persistence is.
We undertook some sales during the Egerton University graduation and Nakuru ASK Show and our entrepreneurship experience are as follows:

  1. Entrepreneurship is not a solo event. Unfortunately, many young entrepreneurs believe that it is and as a result, overwork themselves. We are not talking about hard work being bad... we are talking about the wrong work. A good illustration is our experience as the two partners in Agrifresh Supplies, both of us have different talents and abilities (Dickson Okello is a guru in sales and marketing while Dickson Ouma is acumen in business development and communication). These features make us complement each other very well. Entrepreneurs must surround themselves with others that augment their unique thinking and working style. As an entrepreneur myself, I suffered early on from the same issue, thinking I could do it all.
  2. Failure separates the people who "talk the talk" from the people who "walk the walk". If being an entrepreneur was easy, everyone would do it! The people who succeed at it have made it through countless hoops and hurdles. This due to the fact that during the graduation event, we had high hopes of selling fruits. This led us overstocking and in the long run due to the perishability nature of fruits we ended up in a loss. This did not hinder hopes of selling during the show, in which we made a great amount of sales.
  3. Personally, small failures tell me to fall back and regroup. Some products/services can sell like gangbusters for a while, and then *poof*, they're not as in demand anymore. Instead of freaking out, I think about how I can adjust what I'm doing to better reflect the current demand. This is true to our experience when we brought a certain varieties of Mangoes which majority of our customers did not like until we realized that Apple mango was the variety in demand.
  4. Be consistent and persistent. Believe in yourself. Believe in your plan, but be open to changing it and adapting to the situation. This has made us meet all the top bosses in the University who have given us immense support in the development of our business. The most recent is our meeting with Deputy Vice-Chancellor who through his directive offered us a space to sell our products at the Junior Common Room.
  5. Test ideas quickly and cheaply and if they don't work, move on or get external mentor/consultant to analyse why. Very hard for us as humans to be honest about our own faults, or even see those faults. So I guess that highlights the second most important lesson... lose the fear of facing up and acknowledging what you are not good at. This has been evident from the great mentorship we have got from our lecturers, Prof. Mshenga, Dr. Langat, Mr. Wambua and Mr. Mwangi just to mention but a few.

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