AnziaSokoni is Swahili to mean start from the marketplace. This is an initiative and a running agribusiness venture run by one very daring Mr. Ezra Muinde. Ezra,who has a background in Actuarial Science, decided to jump into the agribusiness and try out his luck. Ezra is a young Kenyan agripreneur and trends on twitter via his mantra #AnziaSokoni. I hunted him down to find out more about his venture and what makes him tick. The conversation was great, I learnt a lot. This is what he had to say.
Who is Ezra Muinde?
Ezra Muinde is an Actuarial Scientist and a farmer who believes that everyone has a role to play in the agricultural sector. You don’t have to necessarily till the soil to be in this sector. The Agricultural value chain is wide enough to accommodate everyone; from planting to consuming farm produce. I am a firm believer of the fact that we cannot satisfy the insatiable appetite of food in a world where we all depend on food at least three times a day.
What triggered your interest in Agriculture?
Aha, Agriculture needs us all. If you don’t farm you’ll definitely consume. Some of us will have to farm for individual financial growth and to feed others. Some of you will have to consume our farm produce to live while keeping our Agribusiness running.
They might mention some other profession as being classy, but to me farming is. What infact triggered me into farming is the opportunity to grow financially while providing consumers with nutritious food. I didn’t start farming by actually disturbing the soil. I started off by finding a way to solve our market issue. That is how I discovered a satisfying career that makes souls smile while pocketing some dollars haha.
It’s interesting how you point out financial growth as what triggered your interest. This is quite contrary to common opinion, “Agriculture is a poor-man’s job.” Would you say that actual farming actually pays?
Agribusiness is the exchange of food for money. I have seen farming foot bills, I have seen farming feed farmers’ pockets lucratively. I can say farming pays if you package farming as a business. If only you can understand when to harvest, who consumes, what quality they consume and basically their consumption behavior; then you can confidently say farming pays. We all depend on food at least three times a day. Being able to produce and sell food is a viable career. Agribusiness converts food into monetary value; in that sense I can confidently say that farming pays.
Describe to us what AnziaSokoni is.
AnziaSokoni started off as my social media campaign for market-driven agriculture late September 2018. As at now, it is a sole proprietor company. I am a firm believer that if you are to make it in Agribusiness you first need to understand your consumers behavior.
At AnziaSokoni, my main objective is to train farmers to become farming traders. Agribusiness assumes the objective of making profit. I believe that farmers, being the center of the agribusiness value chain, need to maximize their profits. My ultimate goal on this objective is to see farmers hedge out brokers by becoming agri-preneurs. Farming is a profession that requires skills and knowledge like any other profession. Any entrepreneur who wants to invest into farming needs to understand the market first prior to planting. AnziaSokoni’s pride is for farmers to plant with a buyer in mind.
That’s an amazing business model Mr. Ezra. I must say this is quite a farmer-centric organization. Briefly walk us through the journey towards propagating, sprouting and flourishing this masterpiece; AnziaSokoni. What have been your experiences? What lessons have you learnt?
Before I started AnziaSokoni, I was working in microfinance. When I saw the opportunity in Agribusiness, I resigned to tap into it. It is not easy to leave a monthly salary for entrepreneurship, but passion keeps me going. Transition into farming has been one of my greatest achievement.
However, I can confidently say that lighting up a business requires more than just an idea. It involves intensive investment in terms of capital, skills and knowledge. There are no easy days in agribusiness. We wake up to deal with different problems everyday.
I classify farming into three segments; purchase of inputs, agronomic support and selling the farm produce. I saw an opportunity in selling food. That is how I birthed AnziaSokoni; then a market driven farming initiative to advocate on farming with a buyer in mind.
In Actuarial Science we say that there is always a trend. In my opinion, farmers really need to understand consumers behavior before they start farming. The greatest lesson I have learned while interacting with farmers is that we need farmer-oriented solutions. We don’t need to hold conferences in five star hotels only to come up with pitch-centric projects.
Splendid. You’re right on track sir. For the farmers, by the farmers. What, in your insights and foresights, would you describe as the ideal Kenyan government agribusiness value chain activities?
I envision agribusiness as a profession that pulls all other profession into realizing SDG 2, Zero Hunger. We just need to identify an opportunity and add value to our farm produce. Agribusiness is becoming the greatest wealth creation venture.
How is it possible that a graduate can convince someone to buy an insurance policy but cannot convince someone to buy food? Marketing agricultural produce should be the easiest, it’s a basic need selling itself. As a farmer, we need to stop treating harvesting as an emergency. Market scouting should be consistent.
Being a youth agripreneur, do you have any parting shots for youths seeking to venture into agribusiness?
Agribusiness pays and foots the bills but only if you treat Agriculture as an investment portfolio.
Don’t start up farming because of the information you’ve gotten from social media. Don’t start up farming because your neighbor bought a probox. Start up farming because you plan on generating revenue. Having an idea is fantastic, but having the capital to execute that idea is way better. Yes, we need to start small but your small needs to sustain that start up. Choosing to feed people is a great profession but make sure you make money out of it. Anziasokoni.