Pokyes Richard Sati was not always interested in agriculture. However, after discovering the need for a potato-processing company in Nigeria, Sati used his technical and business background to create FreeMINDs Bumper Harvest Limited, a successful potato-to-potato-chip company. Sati encourages young people to become aspiring agripreneurs. He stated, “Young people should not see farming as something like a punishment, but they should see farming as a new business, just like being a doctor.”
“Food is life” is a common phrase Constance Munyenyembe likes to say. As the Malawi coordinator for the Africa Agribusiness Academy, Munyenyembe understands the importance of food security and a strong agricultural sector to provide vitality within communities.
Pokyes Richard Sati and Constance Munyenyembe offered advice to YALI Network members on how to participate in the agricultural value chain and provided tips and techniques to succeed in the agribusiness industry.
Here are some of the questions Sati and Munyenyembe addressed in the chat:
Rabiu asked: [As] a person that lives in [a] large city, which one amongst the chain will be the best option for him/her?
Munyenyembe stated, “Agribusiness has a variety of value chains. Firstly you need to know what you are passionate in (horticulture, honey, animal production, agri-inputs, food processing?) And then you need to understand the climate you are living in. For example, if you are passionate about horticulture and living in a hot and dry city find out which crops do not require much water to produce much yield. If it is food processing like peanut butter, which raw materials are easy to access in the city to process them?”
Japhet asked: First congrats for your recent achievements, particularly Richard Pokyes Sati. Now, my question is all about the transformation of raw products to add value and increase incomes. How did you manage to lower packaging cost of your product?
Sati replied: “Thank you my brother Japhet. One of the major problem of an agripreneur is packaging. The most challenging aspect of agribusiness [is] processing [value addition], cos you spent a lot of time and energy on processing, packaging then preservations. I had to innovate on my packaging after making a lot of research. It will be interesting to share with you how I achieve that. I had to use my experiences of product branding and development to achieve great packaging at very lower cost. The most important thing is to have great picture of your brand and work on developing a cheaper packaging that will meet the standards at an affordable rate.”
One curious YALI Network member asked: Hello, I am happy to be part of this initiative. I like impacting life. I got interested in this program to have more materials to promote agribusiness. These are my questions: Am I at the right place, although I have no training in agriculture? Can I have materials to promote agribusiness in my homeland? How can I be an online agribusiness promoter?
Sati replied: “You can always check out yali.lab.dev.getusinfo.com/ag for more resources on Agribusiness. You can create groups, forums and events online on agribusiness development, you can use all the social media tools to provide information to your audiences and also link up with Africa Agribusiness Academy (AAA) for more training materials and mentors.”
Rosemary’s question on increasing youth participation in agriculture: Congratulations to Pokyes and Constance. I was really inspired by their amazing stories. I very much agree with Constance that young people have not fully explored opportunities in the word of Agric. I have come to understand that I have a major role to play in the food value chain. How do I redirect my skills in SBCC, advocacy, community mobilization to helping young people embrace agriculture?
Pokyes Richard Sati answered: “Good to know you have such great skills in advocacy, community mobilization, and SBCC, you can collaborate with other agribusiness professionals to use your skills to encourage young people to embrace agribusiness, there are a lot of resources on the YALI page on agribusiness. You can also create some campaigns on food drives, food security, youths & Agribusiness using your advocacy skills. With community mobilization you can share the importance of African communities processing our own food and consuming what we process so as to create sustainable food value chain. You can always connect with any of us to create more awareness to young people.”
Oluwatobi asked: “Are there opportunities for older people who also wish to increase their farm products, enlarge their reach, and as well on ways on how to go about marketing these products and annual farming?”
Munyenyembe answered, “Agriculture and agribusiness is for everyone. Look for organizations, hubs which can help you with capacity building, how to build an agribusiness. These trainings will teach you on how to understand your market environment, how to penetrate the market and how to bring wealth to your customers. But before you produce anything, know first the right need in your community which will help you bring in the right value proposition to customers.”
A YALI Network member asked: “I [have] vast experience in Agribusiness and Agriculture financing and having been in the field for years I identified a gap, and this gap is Agriculture Information Systems. As Africans we have good and practical Agricultural projects but I have noticed the lack of MIS knowledge on Agriculture. what should we do as a people to introduce the art of agriculture information systems to the ordinary African farmer?”
Munyenyembe answered: “This is a great [question]. You have seen the need, but now you need to find out if that need is a need for the African farmer. Conduct interviews, customer discovery, learn what the farmers feel concerning Agriculture Information Systems. Learn from them as how they feel they can be introduced to this, what avenues would they be comfortable with in getting the knowledge … would it be trainings, the use of an app, using social media, or the mediums farmers use to get this knowledge. What will be your business model to ensure this knowledge and information can be out there. But first of all know the right need of your customer, because they will be the ones to buy and use this information.”
A YALI Network member from Nigeria asked Sati: “There are few people who really want to be fully part of the AgriBusiness as a youth. How can someone secure funding here in Nigeria as a youth without business not been registered initially?”
Sati said: “There are alot of funding opportunities in Nigeria for agribusiness, like the Growth and Employment funds sponsored by world bank and implemented by ministry of trade and investment. You can also apply for funding with TEF next year, you only need to get your business name registered before disbursement, and now the Federal Government of Nigeria has reduced the cost of registering business name to #5000 naira. You can also apply for agribusiness funds with the Federal Ministry of Agric, through the Agriculture and Finance Consultants (AFC). The Federal Government of Nigeria through the CBN have some soft loans for agribusiness at the Bank of Industry (BOI) and Bank of Agric (BOA). You only need to walk into those banks with your business plan and proposals. You can also benefit from the Anchor Borrowers scheme through the Social Investment scheme (NSIP).”
Kilma asked: “What Were Your Greatest Failures and What Did They Teach You?”
Sati stated: “You can listen to my podcast to learn more about my failures and mistakes
One of my failures was recruiting my first team, I felt obligated to employ family members in the business, but was faced with a reality that no business strives with families involved because they were not skilled and have poor attitude towards the business, for the first 3 months I experienced failures because of poor attitude to work. I learned to make my business independent of family members who don’t understand the values and are not aligned with the goals and vision of the business.”
To view the rest of the questions and answers from the Facebook chat with Pokes Richard Sati and Constance Munyenyembe, please visit the YALI Network Facebook page.