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Easy Ways To Run A Successful Agribusiness With Farmers: Beeutiful Creations

Agribusiness is any business that not only deals with farming land and producing animals, but also offers services to farmers that can enhance the value of their produce.

Working with local farmers is a great way to add value to your community by:

  • Reducing the footprint that products travel
  • Working hand in hand with them to ensure they produce quality, affordable produce
  • Ensuring that money made stays in the community longer
  • Offering farmers assurance of consistent market for their produce

For further reading, check out 7 proven ways on how to start a successful business for guidelines on how to identify a business you want to do, all the way to how to register it and hit the market.

Beeutiful Creations

Beeutiful Creations is a Christian social enterprise started in 2016 with Sean Lawsonand Nathalie Imanishimwe at the helm, based in Muhanga which is approximately an hour’s drive from Kigali. They source 90% of their raw materials from beekeepers in Rwanda and each of their products includes Rwandan beeswax or honey. This means that they are able to fully utilize what a beekeeper produces, hence maximizing the profits and reducing waste. They have been slowly transitioning the business to be 100% Rwandan-owned.

The sales representative is Claudine Tuyisenge, and she’s in charge of all retail and wholesale orders that come into business.

Sean Lawson (Co-Founder) & Nathalie (General Manager) at the KFAAM Market

How do you start your agribusiness with a local farmer?

Start with a culture of ‘fair trade

According to fairtrade.org, this is where you connect disadvantaged farmers and workers with consumers, promoting fairer trading conditions and empowering farmers and workers to combat poverty, thereby strengthening their position and taking more control of their lives.

Beeutiful Creations works with bee-keepers across Rwanda when making their handmade beeswax candles, cosmetics, furniture polish, children’s candle kits/modeling clay, and of course, raw honey. They ensure they pay the farmers a fair price for their produce to be able to support their families, provide health insurance and engage in further village-based micro-enterprising schemes.

Beeswax Heart
Work with integrity

Many farmers have had a bad experience with entrepreneurs who were less than honest with them and taken advantage of either their rural back ground or lack of access to certain infrastructures.

When working with a farmer, ensure you are forthright with them to develop a firm base on which to build your partnership. Avoid promises you can’t keep.

For example, I know of farmers who have been asked to grow a certain amount of produce for the entrepreneur to buy from them each month, only for them to flake out last minute leaving the farmer with huge losses.

Beeutiful Creations works on contract-based agreements with beekeepers on quantities that they know they can handle. They have built that trust and are always assured of the quantities they need to produce their line of products each month. This trust goes beyond just buying and selling as the bee keepers can also trust the company when they suggest to them the ways in which they can be more sustainable in their farming or any new ideas to enhance their produce.


Show them the benefits of working with you

It’s one thing to approach a farmer and ask them to partner with them, but how do you convince them that it’s in their best interest to work with you and not another person?

Line up all the advantages you will be offering a farmer, that includes and not limited to:

  • Saving their time looking for market
  • Offering good value for their produce
  • Helping farmers get access to training and sustainable farming methods to improve their yields
  • Showing them the end-product of their produce
  • Giving them access to the end-product that they can use to show other farmers or use themselves

Beeutiful Creations believes in holistic development and invests time and energy in ensuring their partners can increase their skills and knowledge through training in beekeeping, candle-making and product development.

Michael cutting out foundation
Find a consistent market 

It’s pointless to have a farmer on board with you if you don’t have a consistent market to sell the end products. If you aren’t able to get buyers for your products, how will you be able to continue a sustainable relationship with the farmer? They will quickly loose their trust in you and opt to look for other ways to sell their produce.

Beeutiful Creations products can be found in Azizi Life Studios in Kacyiru, and can also be found every month at the Kigali Farmers’ And Artisans’ Market.

Beeswax gorillas made with locally-crafted molds

According to Sean, “the market has helped.. get a stable customer base, build relationships with attendees and helped [them] grow initially, without the commitment of hiring a permanent location”. They can also be found in other retail stores across Rwanda, and even in Akagera National Park.

Another way that Beeutiful Creations has ensured consistent market for their products is by partnering with businesses that would directly use their products. A good example is the informal partnership between them and Toddle Care.

Toddle Care is a woman run-business in Rwanda that produces quality educational toys – they can also be found in the market every month. They use Beeutiful Creations’ bees-wax polish to polish their toys and they both cross-advertise this fact, further enhancing the #MadeinRwanda initiative and increasing brand-visibility of their products.

Beeswax polish
Promote the farmer as you promote your business

As you advertise and market your products, don’t forget to give credit to the farmer who has helped you achieve this.

Not only does this give the farmer morale but, they will also have pride in what they are doing. They will want to continue to be wholly-committed in consistently producing the best.

Showing the farmer at work or what goes into producing the raw materials also helps the consumer understand what’s in the end product, the pricing structure and build their confidence in it. This kind of transparency helps sustain brand loyalty as well.

Beeutiful Creations consistently post on social media how their beekeepers work. A recent post showed how they get honey from the hives using the cold-press method and how they ensure there are no additives in their products. In a city where there’s concern that water is sometimes added to honey, this gives consumers in Kigali a relief to know that their products are untainted.

Crushing honey is the best way to ensure it remains raw

The inside of a locally constructed hive
Martin Byenda, a beekeeper
Be Original

According to Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA), Rwanda is only 26,000 square km with 70% of it exploited for agriculture, with legumes, cereals, tubers, bananas, vegetables and coffee being the main crops cultivated. What this shows you as an entrepreneur, is that chances are very high that they will be many farmers per-square km doing the same thing, which of course increases competition. It’s very easy to find yourself producing the same thing like many other businesses. This ‘copy-cat’ mentality is rife in Rwanda with many people fearing venturing into the unknown.

Beeutiful creations has taken something as simple as beeswax and used it in the production of several products that few – if any – are doing in Rwanda.

By taking a traditional craft or product and adding your own twist you could take something dull and turn it to something consumers are clamoring for. Some of the unique items that they do are bees-wax lip-balms and bees-wax polish that are child-friendly, so can be used on toys, furniture and kitchen items like chopping boards.

As you know, I definitely had to ask what advice could be given to budding entrepreneurs thinking of going down this road.

It was surprising to learn that Beeutiful Creations was started with Rwf 50,000 (approximately $60). Yes! You read that right… USD 60!

They bought 15kgs of honey directly from a farmer then rendered the wax to make candles. That gave them approximately 18 jars of honey and 5 candles and their business started. Now 2.5 years later, they are able to run a viable social enterprise with 4 full-time staff members. How inspiring is this to you who had been thinking you need thousands of dollars to start a business?

Soap sold around Rwanda including in the Ruzizi and Karenge Eco Lodges in Akagera Park

You can tell the Beeutiful Creation staff is committed and hardworking. They have admitted to making several mistakes in their journey (as many start-ups would) but, they have learnt from them and this is what makes them grow from strength to strength. They also make a great team because what they have achieved together with the farmers is beyond inspirational and can be easily replicated.

Can you imagine the Africa we would have if there were thousands more agri-businesses like Beeutiful Creations willing to take full control of our lands and use our rich resources to empower one another? Can you imagine agribusinesses ran/led by women who are innovative, smart and willing to work with men on an equal footing?

Imagine never having to import products from other continents because we are able to fully maximize what we have…

Pause to imagine that Africa then take a bold step towards turning it into a reality, even if it’s to #buylocalsupportlocal.

The inside of a beekeeper’s hive
Tamu Lip Balm
Ubizima Bwiza I Munazi a candle-dipping group and partner managed an order of 1,200  hand dipped candles to a fair-trade company in America

Learn more about Beeutiful Creations here: beeutifulcreation.org.

Or give them a call on +250 782 713 748 to organise a visit.

If you are interested in joining our community market, send an email to info@kigalifarmersandartisansmarket.com with a short bio of your business and pictures of your products.

[All photo credits: Beeutiful Creations]

All views and opinions expressed are the author’s

6 Remarkable Ways That Cooperatives Empower Women

Nshuti cushion

I have had the great privilege of working with a number of co-operatives every month in the market. Interestingly enough, all have been run by women for women, and it has been very uplifting to see these women empowering each other every day to ensure a better life for themselves and their families.

Nshuti By Dushyigikirane

In my previous blog, I wrote about 7 proven steps to start a successful business. That post was written with an individual in mind. This blog addresses the benefits of working with others to achieve not only your goals, but a collective goal that can shape your community for years to come.

Actress Phylicia Rashad once said, ‘when women come together with a collective intention, it’s a powerful thing.’

Many people say that women are their own worst enemies, however, if as a woman you walk around with this attitude in your head, you are doing a great disservice to yourself. You might ask why and might even rationalize that you’ve done well for yourself without help from anyone let alone women but, hear me out. From experience (and I’m very certain many women out there can agree with me) thinking like this not only closes you to a very resourceful network and support group that could do more for you than you thought imaginable but, you also lose out on life in general because fear is your driver.

According to International Labour Organisation (ILO) recommendation No. 193 on the promotion of cooperatives (2002), a cooperative is ‘an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned, democratically-controlled enterprise’. That’s a spot-on description that defines what you see when you come across women who are working towards their goals and visions with tenacity.

Nshuti by Dushyigikirane is a cooperative that creates opportunities to learn, grow and develop towards more employment and a better standard of living for all in their group and in their community. They do this by designing, producing and selling high-quality handicrafts. They started one year ago with a group of 11 women. Nshuti and Dushyigikirane are Kinyarwanda words meaning ‘friends’ and ‘support each other’, respectively.

Members of Nshuti: Ndayambaje Adrien, Uwamariya Beata, Nisekanabo Beata, Nynawumuntu Siphora, Ingabire Prisca, Kuzwa Rosette

I took time to visit their workshop located in Nyarutarama – Kibiraro, to bond and learn how their cooperative has empowered them. I went there excited to learn more about this group of women who have supported the market by attending each month for the past 4 months and I left there with such a boost of energy no coffee, nap or downtime could ever give me (and that says a lot coming from me).

How does a cooperative empower the women in its community?

A solid and mutual support group

When you first meet this group of women, you can feel their oneness.

Despite the fact that all of them speak Kinyarwanda and I needed a translator for the interview, it didn’t take away from the quiet yet palpable energy that radiated from that tiny workshop. They were doing their work while engaging with each other and you can see how they relate to one another is out of mutual respect.

Prisca 
photo by Valentina Venkova
‘Mama Muzungu’
Nshuti school bag project

With many women across the globe being marginalized and heavily cut off from major economic and social decisions, this kind of togetherness can definitely go a long way towards changing the status quo.

It also gives women a platform to feel that they can be heard and be respected because they know they aren’t alone as they have ‘sisters’ who understand and support them.

Nshuti is well organised with a president called Rosette Kuzwa, who by the way, has a definite leader aura about her, and I found myself automatically giving a handshake in the traditional manner of right-hand-out and left-hand over right wrist, to show respect. She is backed by the head of sales and vice-president, Beatha Uwamariya and members of the cooperative.

Rosette Kuzwa 
photo by Valentina Venkova

Increased productivity

Nshuti started with several women who had skills in tailoring/sewing and knitting. Individually, they would make a few pieces to sell within their community but they didn’t really have a very clear plan on how they were going to improve their skills and increase their sales. When the women got together, they were able to share ideas amongst themselves, expand their reach and hold each other accountable for the various roles they had given themselves.

Also, by getting a platform like Kigali Farmers’ And Artisans’ Market to consistently showcase their products, it gave them a clear purpose and goal towards which they would work towards.

2018 Kigali Farmers’ and Artisans’ Market (KFAAM)
photo by RwandaInfluence

Steady flow of income

Most of the ladies in the cooperative had little, to no source of income, relying heavily on the men in the household or the community-at-large to help them fend for themselves and their families for the basic of necessities. This can be hugely demoralizing to any human being let alone a woman. At some point, they become seen as a burden to society which is quickly followed by ridicule, psychological, emotional and physical abuse, low self-esteem, illegal ways of attaining money and continuing a vicious cycle of poverty.

Nshuti kids’ aprons

The ladies at Nshuti are able to pride themselves to be able to regularly take home an income to support their households either as primary care-givers or being a source of extra income.

Nshuti school bag project

More say & participation in the community

As earlier stated, a lot of women have little to no say in their own communities and households. When they have first-hand opportunity to work and give back to the community, they start earning the respect from the same. They can be approached by leaders looking to bring about positive changes, they inspire and set good examples to the youth and they are able to share with/train other women who want to improve their lives. Their social standing also greatly improves and that directly raises their self-esteem.

The ladies at Nshuti participate in Umudugudu (Kinyarwanda for neighbourhood) meetings and are regularly approached by members of the community to give advice and training to other ladies, even in other neighbourhoods.

Prisca and Solange

Exposure and increased visibility

Cooperatives that have impact within their communities, automatically start getting recognition and many would want to be associated with them by helping them reach their goals faster. This is because the women show a resilient and fighting spirit even at the face of adversity which almost always draws to the emotions of those around them. They no longer look like they are waiting for handouts but, respectable women willing to learn and put in the hard work. Most people can identify with this and will be willing to even volunteer their time and resources to support the women.  

Monique Fausto
Irma Hartsink
Nshuti baby blanket

At Nshuti, there are two women who volunteer their time to help the women: Irma Hartsink and Monique Fausto. I’ve seen these ladies work hand-in-hand with the women, listening and sharing with them their skills and knowledge and it’s a beauty to see a scenario where not even language is a barrier for the women to collectively work together to ensure they are a success.

Hartsink and Fausto wouldn’t have known about Nshuti if the cooperative hadn’t started doing something on their own. Their passion to see the cooperative succeed, shine and bask in the glory of their hard work, is a humbling experience to behold. It does give you pause to think what you are doing to help those around you rise above their situations and be successful human beings in their own right.  

Rehema Merekatete

Joining the market and ultimately having their story written here is also another way that the cooperative has started getting the visibility they rightly deserve. They have had orders coming in due to the interactions of the cooperative translator and sales assistant, Rehema Merekatete, with consumers on market day and her energetic and bubbly attitude towards the work that she does.

Helping women realize their gifts and talents

If you are constantly stressed about how you are going to get your basic needs, it goes without say that you are probably stunting your growth as an individual. This is because you are wholly focused on making it one day at a time.

Every person has been born with a talent that they either know or are yet to discover.

You could be the quick-thinker who always has an answer for everything, making you suitable to be a marketer – or you could be the empath who seems to understand and feel the needs of those around you, making you suitable to work in the hospitality industry or any career that involves health or psychological care. You could even be that artsy person always able to turn the most boring things into works that draw “uuuuhs” and “aaahs”, making you a great fit to work in an area like culinary. Joining or starting a cooperative can help you identify your talents faster because you are surrounded by women who want to achieve the same. Like-minded people working and spending time together, find themselves growing faster in many aspects of their personal lives hence less stress and more solutions.

Mama Chantal knitting
photos by Valentina Venkova

As mentioned earlier, Nshuti started with women who were skilled in sewing and knitting. However, as the women continued to bond and grow in confidence, it came as a surprise to the women that one of them was actually very good in bead-work. They had never known this and were it not for their inclusive nature, might never have known. They are now looking forward to introducing a new line of products that will feature this lady’s skills.

Nshuti flynets and napkins

This was a great reminder for me how when we work together as a community – especially as women – we can reach milestones that seemed like mere dreams.  The women at Nshuti are a great example of sisterhood and when I asked Rosette what advice she would give to women who are in similar positions as they were and want a way out, she looked at me with a deep gaze and said in Kinyarwanda:

“Bagomba kugira imbaraga zo gukora no kugera ku musaruro ushimishije”

‘They need to have the will-power to want to do and achieve better.’

There’s honestly nothing else I can add or take away from that statement which essentially makes it perfection.  

The Nshuti team will be at the #womensdaymarket at Kigali Serena Hotel on 2ndMarch from 12-6pm. They also welcome visits to their workshop and they can be reached on Nshutiproducts@outlook.com [All images courtesy of Nshuti by D

If you are interested in becoming a vendor at the market, send an email with a short bio of your business and pictures of your products to info@kigalifarmersandartisansmarket.com

To learn more about the market, visit: kigalifarmersandartisansmarket.comFacebookInstagramTwitter

Flo Founder KFAAM

The views expressed here are those of the author

7 proven ways on how to start a successful business

Case study – Zerufi Organics, Rwanda

Before I started this journey in entrepreneurship, I had the great opportunity to be employed in different corporate, mid-sized and SME companies, for slightly over 13 years that gave me invaluable work experience that I use till today. Some had crazy work hours with rigid rules of operations while others were flexible with managers or business owners that had a laissez –faire attitude and didn’t really bother with you till the next weekly meeting.

However with all of them, I had one big problem; I didn’t think I was being true to myself and I felt I wasn’t following my calling. Being a creative who was always lost in my mind with ideas upon ideas, it was at times difficult to express those ideas in whichever company I was working for because it wasn’t either in line with their vision or simply there was no budget.

I know there are many people who are probably itching to start their own businesses or have been sitting on ideas that they strongly feel could be solutions to the numerous business/consumer problems out there but, have never made that move to do anything about it. Hopefully by the time you finish reading this blog, you will feel inspired to take the bold step into entrepreneurship not only from using the pointers here but, with inspiration from the following lady who dared to follow her dreams.

Catherine Njane was an Advisory consultant by profession with over 7 years of experience in that field. Entrepreneurship was never something she had seriously considered before, at least not fulltime, and she loved the stability that her job offered, having worked hard to climb the corporate ladder and do her best to smash that glass ceiling many women talk about. So in 2017, she started Zerufi Organics.

Catherine explaining one of her products

Zerufi Organics sells natural skin care and hair care products. They are strong believers of not putting anything on your skin or hair that you wouldn’t want near your mouth. Their customers are people looking for effective skin and hair solutions in nature without having to resort to chemical-laden products. Zerufi Organics tries to offer that with its products range and they are carefully formulated with natural ingredients backed with extensive research to ensure that they are not only gentle but also effective.

Being a vendor that was with the market since inception, Catherine was one of the people that I was able to bounce ideas off of and discuss at length the challenges and triumphs of being an entrepreneur because we were in the same boat of pursuing excellence in self -employment. I got the opportunity to pick brain her to better understand the steps she took to be where she is right now.

Getting down to it, what steps should you take before you quit your job to start your own business?

  1. Passion

Before taking that leap into what you consider freedom to build your empire, ensure you have passion for what you are pursuing. You need to be deeply and madly in love with your vision. Why is this important? I will not sugar-coat anything and tell you that running a business is easy because it isn’t, at least in the initial phase. However it can be enjoyable if you love what you are doing. Many business owners including myself, have found themselves working for hours on end even forgetting to have a meal because you are so engrossed with what you are doing. Passion is the thing that will get you up in the morning when you had a bad sales day, a rejection from the bank or even having to deal with those around you who think you are mad for pursuing your dreams.

Range of whipped body butters

Catherine has always been passionate about smells, scents, oils, creams and the likes even more so if they were from nature and not just another chemical concoction created to appease the masses. So it was a no brainer when she considered going into her solo trip, to venture into this line of business.

  • Research

It’s one thing to have passion but it’s another to have a blind one. It is paramount that you do research upon research about the line of work you want to get yourself into. Remember, we are talking about a major life decision here and it’s better to do it right or don’t do it at all. Research could involve looking into the viability of the business, who your target market is, cost of starting business, where your business will be based…you get the drift. Do your homework ensuring you look at all the angles to maximize your success when you start.

Before they get a product to market, Zerufi Organics takes approximately 4 months to research on ingredients, product formulation and branding before bringing it to the masses. They have 14 products in their portfolio so that’s more than 4 years behind the building of the brand with 2 years in the market

Lip balms
  • Business/Financial plan

I know this could be boring for some of you, at least it was for me, but a business and financial plan is paramount. It helps you map and navigate your way through this new territory with the bonus point of making you accountable. The internet is filled with these sample plans so the only work here would be to adjust them to suit your needs.

A business plan helps you formulate a plan for your business which includes but not limited to clear goals and visions, projections and SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis.

A financial plan helps you formulate a plan for your personal upkeep as you build your empire like, how you will continue with basic payments like rent, food, clothes, savings etc. Making a budget and sticking to it will keep you from being stressed and more focused on your vision.

Face mask
  • Take your idea for a test drive

Before I started the market, I did a series of pop-up markets in Kigali within different locations for around 3 months. This was to put to test whether my vision was actually realistic. It’s easy to ask trusted friends, mentors or business owners for their input (which I would encourage you do) but, no one but yourself can see and execute your plan better than you. It will also validate the demand for your product. Be open-minded and look at your plan critically. There are many resources in the internet nowadays that can guide you through a test drive for your business. As you see what works and what doesn’t, you can adjust your plans accordingly.

Remember I mentioned that Catherine and I used to frequently touch base, well, when she learnt that I was starting the pop-up markets, she would give me a few of her products to sample and sell to potential consumers in order to get feedback. She would join me in those pop-ups but at times she would be held up at work (she had yet to quit her job by this time- more on that below). She also had already been selling the products within her network and all the information she received enhanced and expanded her products line.

Range of facial/body soaps
  • Register the business

To be taken seriously and to put your best foot forward, it’s best that you don’t neglect this step. Rwanda has one of the fastest, if not the fastest, business registration process there is in Africa. You can do it online through Rwanda Development Board and it takes a maximum of one business day. I was able to get the market registered within 6 hrs while Zerufi Organics was registered within 8. On top of this, RDB does a follow up where you are called to attend a simple course in understanding what your responsibilities as a business owner are. How supportive is that?

Range of face serums
  • Make it official

Giving 100% to your new venture is the best thing you could do to nurture and see it grow faster. Much as doing it part time could be a viable solution to many for various reasons, giving your full attention to your vision means you are totally committed to it. You will also not have to use another company’s time and resources building yours which will internally give you the satisfaction of starting from a point of integrity. Writing a professional resignation letter giving ample time to your employer, ensures you don’t burn bridges unnecessarily because let’s face it, you are going into a world where you will be an employer and the last thing you need are enemies or bad karma following you.

Catherine tried to do her business part-time for a couple of months but it wasn’t sustainable especially with her tight work schedule. She hadn’t even started actively advertising the products at the time but she was getting a lot of customers as a result of referrals from friends and co-workers. She realized that she didn’t know how she was going to handle the demand if it grew beyond that and so she decided to quit her job.

Zerufi Organics’ popular hair oil
  • Get your product to market

Now that you have your ducks in a row, the final step is to let people know about your product. There are so many avenues that can be explored here that it would definitely need its own entire blog. However, some of the common and more popular ways are social media, retail stores, mainstream media, print ads, billboards, fliers and of course let’s not forget your local farmers market.

Zerufi Organics has proudly been a part of the Kigali Farmers’ and Artisans’ market since its inception and the market has been very helpful in terms of visibility for the business. Catherine has made contacts that have led to amazing partnerships and collaborations and that have positively impacted the course of her business. Aside from that, the market presents an opportunity to have some quality face time with her customers and she gets to explain her products to them and engage on whatever questions they may have on the products. She also adds, ‘I’m truly grateful to be a part of the market and the initiatives it supports’.

Catherine at the market

Catherine’s parting words for any upcoming business is to get involved in initiatives such as the Kigali Farmers’ and Artisans’ market to grow their network as she feels there is a lot to learn by engaging with similar businesses as well as your customers. It also gives a different perspective to problems and solutions that you can offer as a business and as someone who’s also been and still on this journey, I couldn’t agree more.

 If we could do it, so can you!

Facebook> @ZerufiOrganicsRw

Instagram> @zerufi_organics

Contacts> +250 781 911 581

Are there other pointers you would recommend, let me know by leaving your comments below.

If you are a vendor interested in joining our 2nd March #womensdaymarket at the Kigali Serena Hotel, drop us an email with a short bio of your business to info@kigalifarmersandartisansmarket.com or visit our website https://kigalifarmersandartisansmarket.com

Disclaimer: The opinions stated here are of the author and it’s imperative that one does their own extensive research before employing any business strategy

Flo Founder KFAAM

Flo Mwashimba is the founder of KFAAM and is strongly passionate about supporting SMEs, micro and home industries run by women, youth and PLWD in the community

5 simple ways a farmers market helps accomplish business growth

Borneo Restaurant as a case study

When I started the market, it was born out of a need to help local farmers and producers I had come across, that had been having a hard time getting their product to market and/or maximizing their reach to the community. Several were being squeezed by middle men and almost all had been failed by them in regards to ensuring that all their produce was sold off at a healthy price margin.

You see, when you have no idea how to get your product to market, it’s very easy to be exploited by those who do. They smell the urgency and desperation from you to sell off your products as quickly as possible and this makes you an easy target.

So how as a business owner can you empower yourself to ensure that you don’t have products rotting or gathering dust?

There are very many ways to let consumers know what you are producing (this shall be a story for another blog) but today, I shall tackle using your local farmers market as a tool for growing your business.

Borneo Restaurant is an Indonesian restaurant that was started around 19 months ago by a couple Fetty Fatimah and Sanjeev Kumar. I was introduced to them by another vendor, Delicious Tofu, ran by a young man who was building his business, while going to University full time.

Borneo- Kinamba

At the time, they had been in operation for around 6 months and were struggling to get consumers through their doors. They were in an area of town called Kinamba, that is mainly filled with small hotels and numerous other businesses that were not really in line with what they were trying to build.

Now, if you live in Kigali, you know every other week there is a new restaurant coming up at every corner. The competition for the same demographic of people is fierce so you have to stand out in order to make that coin. As I write this blog, Borneo has since moved to the upper scale neighbourhood of Kimihurura and they can’t seem to keep the consumers off and they are definitely smiling at their growth from humble beginnings.  Every lunch time, there are droves of people coming to sample their authentic Indonesian meals. I was able to have a conversation with Fetty, to understand how they got there, how the market contributed to their success but most importantly, what they can say to encourage other small businesses in the same road of growth they are in.

  1. Farmers markets are great for introducing new brands or new lines of products

As the market is at the grass root level, you get first hand feedback and ideas from consumers. As the producer, you are able to explain what your brand stands for, what your products are, what goes into making your products and any other information that might be useful in creating that awareness about your business. Borneo quickly learnt from their first market experience that there was a great need for healthy vegetarian options that are quick to make and by the 2nd time to the market, they brought exactly that, even taking it to the next level by preparing the foods on site for consumers to see. Every month for the year they were with us, they kept tweaking their menu, retaining those meals that were popular and introducing new ones till they were able to get the perfect balance.

Borneo at the market
  1. Building brand Loyalty

Brand loyalty is created when consumers trust your brand to give them what you say will give them in a consistent and professional manner.

Borneo, first listened to the customers’ needs then, they proceeded to give the consumer what they wanted with efficiency. Every market day they attended found their stand very busy with consumers waiting to taste their favourite snacks. 

Borneo at the market
  1. Driving traffic to your physical and/or online store

Our market runs once per month so it’s vital for vendors to let the consumers know how they can be reached outside market days.

As mentioned earlier, Borneo had a very small restaurant in an area that wasn’t truly matching their vision. They however still made it work by sharing with consumers their business cards and phone numbers on market day and letting them know that they can be reached on other days.

  1. Getting ideas thought out of the box

We are wired to think and act in certain ways as human beings and sometimes, we need a certain jolt or eye opener to rewire or brains. Markets are great to get you looking at your business in a different light and coming up with new ideas to put you ahead of your competitors.

Borneo used this effectively by introducing vegetarian options in the market. Though they were already selling them at their restaurant, that’s what they became known for in our platform and they rode with that and still do.

Borneo salads
  1. Help your business find its niche

At the market, we strive to adhere to a no replication rule. This essentially means that we don’t allow duplication of products. Granted, this does narrow our pool of potential vendors, but it is important to do this to help vendors maximize their sales on market day and also give a fair chance for a vendor to critically assess what works for them or doesn’t. As these businesses already face competition in their every day running of operations, it made sense to us for them to have a place where they can stand out on their own and shine for what they do.

Tied to the previous point, Borneo learnt that not only could they make vegetarian snacks that are hits but, they could take it a step further by focusing on what they knew best..Indonesian cuisine. Many market visitors, including myself, had never tried this kind of cuisine before and I must tell you, the look on the face of consumers when they took their first bite was, and still is, a site to behold. Since I love food, I always get an internal smile when I see this look. It means the vendor has not only done their job but, they’ve done it well and gained a follower – which is why the market was started. 

Borneo’s new location in Kimihurura

Borneo no longer come to the market and we miss them terribly but, I’m comforted by the fact they are busy every weekend doing either outside catering or other gigs as they continue on their journey. Fetty definitely feels that their move to join the market played an instrumental role in growing their name and presence. Perseverance, hard work and having an open mind are other factors that she felt one needs to have to grow their business and I definitely agree.

Borneo restaurant is located on KG 4 Ave 18 Kimihurura. Their lunch buffet is from 1200-1500 hrs and they are open daily from 1000-2200 hrs. Here is the kind of food you can expect from their lunch buffet menu: Pilau rice, Cap cay, Fried Chicken wings, Noodles omelettes, Beef curry, Bakwan, Fried flour Tofu, Mixed vegetables with tofu, Vegetables fried noodles, Vegetables soup, Salad, Sambal, Fruits, Peanut sauce all for just Rwf 4000 and comes with  free doughnut.

KFAAM and other farmers markets play an important role in the community of giving a platform for businesses to grow and move on to bigger and better things, making room for the next business that needs this support. That in mind, as we approach the #womensday market in March which will be held at Kigali Serena Hotel from 1200-1800 hrs, we are pushing this agenda further by running a Facebook giveaway from 13th to 20th Feb where we are giving women-led businesses an opportunity to win free space and services at the market for up to 3 months.

You could be the next business ready to tell a story of how a farmers’ market helped you grow your business.

Follow this link for details on how to enter >kigalifarmersandartisansmarket.com/giveaways

#womensdaymarket

Facebook> @borneocoffeeresto

Instagram> @borneokigali

Contacts> +250 785 775 703 | borneo.limited@yahoo.com

Disclaimer: The opinions stated here are of the author and it’s imperative that one does their own extensive research before employing any business strategy

Founder KFAAM

Flo Mwashimba is the founder of KFAAM and is strongly passionate about supporting SMEs, micro and home industries run by women, youth and PLWD in the community

 

6 great reasons why Kigali Serena Hotel is the perfect host for your next event

Serena Hotels have established themselves as one of the world’s leading hospitality brands offering quality accommodation, unique holiday and conference solutions, cultural heritage and adventure tourism. Its collection of 35 unique hotels, resorts, safari lodges and camps, palaces and forts located in East Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Rwanda and Uganda), Mozambique and South Asia (Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan) are in some of the world’s most interesting, enchanting, historic and exotic settings.

Kigali Serena Hotel Presidential suite

The hotel has 148 sophisticated rooms that includes an impressive 300 square metres presidential suite with a king size bed, Jacuzzi and space for meetings and entertaining. Check out their accommodation here

Kigali Farmers’ And Artisans’ Market – KFAAM, has had the privilege of working with Kigali Serena Hotel by having its markets at their venue for the past few months. Both the market and the hotel share numerous goals and visions when it comes to supporting, building and working with local businesses in Rwanda.

So what makes Kigali Serena Hotel the ideal place to host your events?

Having first hand experience of being hosted at the Kigali Serena, here are the reasons (in no particular order) why the hotel is the perfect and ideal spot for all your event needs in Kigali.

1.Privacy

Auditorium

The conference areas are located on separate, quiet floors. This means you are able to comfortably host your guests without interruption from other events/ guests within the hotel. The market is usually held at the auditorium and, we are able to have music playing in the background, kids running around and the general hustle and bustle of a market without any worry that we are bothering other guests or the surrounding businesses and homes in the area

2. Ready-to-Use Equipment

In addition to tables and chairs, they have conference phones, Wi-Fi accessibility, writing charts and protector screens. This means you don’t have to stress over extra costs of set-up and transportation of equipment and focus more on layout and event preparation. This is a huge plus for the market and definitely cuts on costs and ensures better time management which is a big thing for any event manager

3. Fresh Food and Beverage Option

They offer banquet services with customizable menus. Their food is fresh and most of it is made using ingredients from local farmers. They have customized a menu for the market which is a great value add for the consumers that visit us each month.

Buffet at the hotel

Having been a fresh farm produce distributor in Kigali (before starting the market), Kigali Serena was one of my clients. I can attest to the fact that the delivery of fresh food was done every day and it was always amazing to see the number of local farmers and producers lined up waiting to have their produce vetted and received. There are standards of hygiene to be up held and corners are not cut thanks to the astute eye of Executive Chef Fred Nakweya and his team.

4. Experienced Staff

Your meeting or event will not be Kigali Serena hotel’s first event (and hopefully won’t be its last!). You can tell that the staff is trained to quickly resolve issues like food concerns, technical difficulties, etc. The GM, who serves as the Country manager as well, Dan Sambai, is extremely helpful, has an eye for detail, quick to respond to queries and generally made the organisation of each market easier with each passing month. The deputy James Nzavawala, is just as good and talented in his work and together with their entire staff, you’ll have fewer grey hairs managing and coordinating your event at this hotel.

5. Easy Access

The hotel lobby

Kigali Serena Hotel has done a great job of trying to accommodate every guests’ needs when it comes to accessibility of its facilities. To access the auditorium, there’s a ramp for PLWD, plenty of parking – which is a walking distance from the auditorium, clean and well stocked wash rooms and a green lash garden to enjoy your snacks and drinks as you catch up with your friends. Kids are also able to run around freely without the worry that there’s danger lurking around the corner

6. Powerful Networking

What makes Kigali Serena Hotel stand out in my eyes, is how vested they are in networking. Each market has had visits from several department heads from the hotel. They listen and learn about what the vendors are selling and even go above and beyond by introducing vendors to their relevant colleagues in the hotel to create and cultivate relationships that go beyond market day. We had the great pleasure of showing the country sales and marketing manager, Evelyne Karamangi-Kamau, around in the last market and, she had fantastic ideas on how the market could further impact the community. She went ahead and supported some of the local businesses by purchasing products/produce to try out and had very encouraging words for every vendor she met. If this doesn’t show responsible attitude and sensitivity towards supporting local businesses, I don’t know what does.

Next time you are looking for a 5 star venue with a central location coupled with experienced staff and world class facilities, Kigali Serena hotel should definitely be top of mind.

Having learnt and known that Kigali Serena Hotels’ procurement strategy thrives through local sourcing, it was a no brainer to partner with them as at all costs, they encourage and promote local community based suppliers and eco-friendly products that support small scale producers and dis-advantaged groups.

19th KFAAM Women’s day Edition

Our next market shall be on 2nd March at the auditorium from 1200-1800hrs. Click here if you are interested in joining us as a vendor.

To learn more about Kigali Serena hotel and their facilities, click here

You can also directly contact the following staff members on email with the subject head ‘Kigali Farmers’ And Artisans’ Market referral-Request for customized event’ to get your customized event package with possible discounts

GM/Country Manager: Dan Sambai – dsambai@serena.co.rw

Deputy GM :James Nzavwala – jnzavwala@serena.co.rw

Executive Chef: Fred Nakweya – fnakweya@serena.co.rw

Country Sales and Marketing Manager: Evelyne Karamangi-Kamau -ekaramangi@serena.co.rw

Disclaimer: The opinions stated here are of the author and it’s imperative that one does their own extensive research before booking any site for an event.

Flo Mwashimba is the founder of KFAAM and is strongly passionate about supporting SMEs, micro and home industries run by women, youth and PLWD in the community

6 Green Super Leaves Available In Rwanda

Rwandese are known for their lean structures and beautiful skin and their love of fruits and vegetables are sure physical indicators of what a meal rich in these foods can do for you.

Going green with super foods is more than a fad with internal benefits and you know what they say, you are only as good as you feel on the inside. According to Oregon State University’s Linus Pauling Institute, green super foods are jam packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants with very few calories. The antioxidants have been known to reduce or reverse the effects of free radicals that have close links with heart disease, cancer, arthritis, stroke, respiratory diseases and immune deficiency. These foods also help purify your blood, aid in digestion enhance your immune system and boost energy. When a portion is included in a healthy, balanced diet, they account for well over 300% of a person’s daily nutritional needs.

The green super foods

AFRICAN NIGHTSHADE – KNOWN AS MANAGU IN SWAHILI.

Originally from Central Africa, these varieties are commonly grown in Rwanda and nearby countries though other varieties of night shade from Europe and other parts of the world are known to be poisonous. They tend to be bitter but the flavour can be improved by letting it rest several days after cooking or by adding fermented milk. Simple recipe

CASSAVA LEAVES – KNOWN AS IBIBABI IN KINYARWANDA

You can’t say you’ve had a meal in Rwanda without trying out ibibabi. As the leaves are tough and take a while to cook, flavour is added to them by mixing them with herbs and spices to create a meal called isombe originally from DR Congo. Ibibabi, like the African Night shade, can be an acquired taste. The leaves are usually ground and can be done for you when buying from the market. Be sure to specify if you want ibibabi (the cassava leaves alone) or isombe (the cassava leaves ground with herbs and spices). Simple recipe

AMARANTH – KNOWN AS MCHICHA IN SWAHILI

These drought resistant crops mature early and its place among indigenous vegetables is undisputable. The leaves are tender, spicy and slightly acidic. In China, India and South America, this plant is known more for its seeds rather than the leaves which are ranked among the world’s healthiest foods. Simple recipe

 COLLARD GREENS – KNOWN AS SUKUMA IN SWAHILI

These leaves are thick and slightly bitter but boy do they taste awesome when fried right. There’s often confusion in the market as they are sometimes referred to as kale.  When doing your shopping and want to try collard greens, you are better off using the Swahili term to get it and ask for kale when you want kale. The best leaves are those picked before maturity though age doesn’t affect the flavour and the stems are removed before cooking. Simple recipe

SWISS CHARD

Belonging to the same family as beetroot and spinach, there are some farmers that refer to these vegetables as spinach. They are of course very different though they MAY have similar flavour profile that’s bitter, pungent and slightly salty depending on the variety. The leaves are NOT to be soaked in water before cooking rather rinsed under cold running water and the stems removed. They also cook very quickly so to get the most from them, a quick fry or blanching will do. Simple recipe

SPINACH – KNOWN AS PINARI IN KINYARWANDA

It has an obvious different look from swiss chard and has a mild and slightly sweet taste making it a great option to be eaten raw. Baby spinach has an even more punchy flavour and is fantastic in smoothies and juices. Though it may be confusing when trying to buy these vegetables in the market due to the fact they are confused for swiss chard in terminology, your safest bet would be to use the local term. Simple recipe

These super foods can be found in Kigali Farmers’ And Artisans’ Market every 1st Sat of the month, grown and freshly harvested by local farmers. They can also be gotten at other major local county markets in Kigali.

How to use these 13 ways to grow farm yields & profits

In the previous blog post, I wrote how getting into the value-add side of agri-business in Rwanda was not only a major step towards community growth and development but, also a great place for potential investors to consider putting their energies in to. However, there were a number of challenges that I pointed out that could hinder this progress. To recap:

  1. Low quality produce as most production is intended for own family consumption hence local farmers do not have strong incentives to increase quality.
  2. Lack of business skills and entrepreneurship.
  3. The rural road infrastructure and transport is not yet fully developed to enable the farmer to promptly get farm input and also transport the farm produce to the market.
  4. There is lack of sustainable market and post-harvest management for the small scale farmers in Rwanda.
  5. Limited capital to develop the farms and local farmers also do not have easy access to funding from commercial banks.
  6. The latest market information is not readily available to the small scale farmers and this results in the farmers selling at cheap price in order to avoid spoilage of agricultural products.
  7. Shortage of fertile land
  8. Lack of knowledge about modern farming methods including irrigation.
  9. Lack of necessary equipment to use on the farm during planting, harvesting and value addition.
  10. Lack of adequate supporting infrastructure to the sector like cold rooms, advisory services to the small farmers and mechanism for the small farmers to pull resources.

Thinking and researching through these challenges, led me to come across ways that would not only promote growth and profit in farm yields, but also produce quality crops.

Why this focus? If you think of the whole agricultural chain as a recipe, then the basic ingredients are the farm produce. If we can increase yield in order to have quality produce coming out of the farms, that will translate to quality value-added products being produced and platforms such as Kigali Farmers’ And Artisans’ Market having access to superior #madeinrwanda products to showcase to consumers.

What are these 13 ways?

Various research studies have been carried out and demonstration and actual farms practised these methods globally, that have proved these 13 methods, collectively used, see an overall improvement in quality and consistency of production of fruits and vegetables. The solutions could come from the Rwandan Government but, as a potential investor, you could look at them as ways you could start an agri-business with their support and to help those who are unable to fund, understand or implement these solutions.

  1. Boost irrigation With the growing effects of climate change on weather patterns, more irrigation will be needed. Average yields in irrigated farms are 90% higher than those of nearby rain-fed farms.

Balton CP Rwanda is an example of a business bringing knowledge, know how, high quality inputs and modern technologies to Rwanda’s farmers. Learn more about them here https://www.baltoncp.com/rwanda/

2. Develop high-yield crops Increased research into plant breeding, which takes into account the unique soil types of Rwanda, is a major requirement. An organisation that has really taken this and run with it is FAIM Africa. Founded in 2011 by Steve and Cheryl Jones along with a small investment group and based in Kigali, Rwanda, FAIM (Forestry and Agricultural Investment Management) is the first tissue culture lab and plant propagation nursery of its kind in Africa producing clean, disease free planting materials for the farmers in Rwanda and surrounding countries.FAIM Africa is tackling the challenges of providing clean plants and seeds as well as providing the Rwandan farmers with the knowledge and assistance in successful agronomy practices that will dramatically increase plant productivity reducing poverty and addressing food security in Rwanda. Learn more about them here www.faim.co

3. Increase the use of fertilizers As soil fertility deteriorates, fertilizer use must increase. The Rwandan Government needs to ensure the right type of fertilizers are available at the right price, and at the right times. Fertilizer education lessens the environmental impact and an analysis of such training programs in East Africa found they boosted average incomes by 61%. Cultivating your soil with fertilizers is an important part of maintaining optimal soil conditions for crops on your farmland. Fertilizing your crop at the time of seeding can help provide the seeds with essential nutrients like potassium, phosphorous, and calcium. The root-zone at the base of your crops is the most important area to facilitate growth so your crop can thrive and produce an impressive yield.

4. Improve market access, regulations, and governance Improving rural infrastructure such as roads is crucial to raising productivity through reductions in shipping costs and the loss of perishable produce. Meanwhile, providing better incentives to farmers, including reductions in food subsidies, could raise agricultural output by nearly 5%.

One could also follow the example of Kigali Farms – A local social enterprise I worked for, that had a very supportive buy back scheme. They are one of the biggest producers of mushrooms in East Africa and in the past, they would sell mushroom substrate to rural farmers at a reduced price, train them on how to grow quality mushrooms and when it was time for harvesting, they would buy back the mushrooms at an agreed price. Learn more about them here www.kigalifarms.com

5. Make better use of information technology Information technology can support better crop, fertilizer and pesticide selection. It also improves land and water management, provides access to weather information, and connects farmers to sources of credit. Simply giving farmers information about crop prices in different markets has increased their bargaining power. E-soko, a provider of a mobile crop information services in Rwanda, estimates they can boost incomes by 10-30%. Learn more about them here http://www.esoko.gov.rw/

6. Plant Early, Plant EffectivelyChoosing the right time to plant is often the most important part of planting. The best strategy to use to increase yields is: if your soil is ready, start planting. There are tests you can perform on your soil to see if it is ready for planting. Today’s hybrid seeds create a more sustainable product, but knowing if your field is ready for early planting is just as important. Planting early can result in increased yields by taking advantage of unexpectedly early favorable soil conditions.

7.Practice Seasonal Soil Rotation When you are planting season-by-season, it is important to understand how planting recurring crops can affect your overall yield. Planting crops in consecutive years has been proven to be less effective for optimal yields. This means that crop-on-crop planting should only be considered when your soil conditions are strong enough, or your land mass is limited. If you don’t have access to either, you may need to consider planting alternative crops in alternating years. Planting an alternating crop helps to diversify the demands on your soil. This results in crops that not only yield more, but continually produce year in and year out.

8. Know The Yield Potential It is not just enough to plan your seeds and hope for the best, you should always be sure to understand your field’s growth potential. Understanding the kind of crops you’re planting, and the kinds of seeds you are using, is important when assessing yield potential. Crop producers typically have an estimated idea of the yield potential of their seeds. Understanding this will help manage not only your expectations, but whether or not your yield potential is matching your actual production.

9. Always Scout Your FieldsThe most sage advice you can receive about how to increase crop yields is by scouting your fields on foot. This will give you a chance to assess soil conditions, notice any weeds cropping up, and check that your crops are growing healthily. This is especially true for ‘telephone farmers’ – farmers that are rarely in the field and rely on the use of telephone and a farm hand to keep track of crop growth. There is a lot you can miss when you are passing by your crops at high speeds or when you aren’t there to monitor growth so, hitting the ground and examining your crops is an important step towards a stronger crop yield.

10. Ensure Proper Water Drainage Water management is essential to crop survival and maximizing your crop’s yield potential. It’s important to ensure your crop is getting enough water, but also that they aren’t being over-watered. Developing a drainage system in your crops can help prevent water logging and salinization in your soil, both of which can stifle growth and production.

11.Test Your Soil

Soil testing should be on your to do list right from the get-go, because your soil and its needs will directly influence the growth of your crops. Examining the phosphorus, potassium, and fertilization levels will give you insight into how to handle your crops. It will also let you know when proper soil conditions are forming, such as the optimal density and right amount of nutrients, so you are ready to start planting.

12. Weed Early and Often Weeds are not just the enemy of front lawns and golf courses, they can also compromise your farmland. Weeds are invasive, and siphon nutrients away from the crops you are trying to grow. Weeds always need to be dealt with as early and often as possible. Scouting your fields gives you the opportunity to see if any weeds are cropping up — and putting a stop to them before the problem can get out of hand.

13.Seed QualityHaving quality seeds is the basis for increasing crop yields. Whether you are looking into increasing your crop yields, or maximizing your overall agricultural productivity, you need to consider the strength of your seeds. Using hybrid seeds that are naturally inclined to grow faster, stronger, and with greater efficiency is pivotal to the success of your crops. Non-GMO seeds combine sustainability and cost seamlessly, which accounts for both quality and cost.Crop yields can be as complex as they are important for your farm. Learning how to increase agricultural productivity is always on a farmer’s mind. These tips will provide you with a strong start so you are able to begin putting them into practice, and start maximizing crop yields on your farm.

The author, Flo is the founder of Kigali Farmers’ And Artisans’ Market and is extremely passionate about community building focusing on the youth, women and PLWD running SMEs, micro and home industries.

The big secret on how to unlock and exploit agriculture in Rwanda

Running Kigali Farmers’ And Artisans Market and working for both SMEs and corporates in the food industry, has afforded me the opportunity to see firsthand, the many, many gaps in the Rwandan market. Today however, I shall focus on the agri-business side of things. The market was, and still is, one way to help bridge these said gaps, but this is a very small solution to a bigger problem that Rwanda and many other African countries still have a lot to work on.

So, what’s the big ‘secret’ in unlocking and fully exploiting agriculture in Rwanda? The answer is very simple yet complex…value-Add. By definition, value-added agriculture entails changing a raw agricultural product into something new through packaging, processing, cooling, drying, extracting or any other type of process that differentiates the product from the original raw commodity. Other definitions describe value-add as one increasing the economic value of a commodity through particular production processes that increases the value of the product to the consumer. Whichever the definition, the value addition activity is very important to the farmers because, it increases the value of the raw materials and enables the farmer to fetch better prices from the market. Value addition in rural areas can take many forms including cleaning, preservation, sorting, packaging, processing a raw material into some form of canned food and branding of agriculture products.

How is Value-Add the big secret solution to a lot of the agri-businesses based in Rwanda?Let’s look at a few statistics to help us understand this a lot better;According to the National Bank of Rwanda Statistics, Rwanda generated $463.16 million from exports in the first six months of 2018, up from $375.91 million in the same period 2017. Rwanda’s exports accelerated in the first half of 2018, driven by Government’s efforts to support the Made-in-Rwanda agenda as well as good performance of non-traditional exports, helping to bridge the country’s trade deficit. Traditional exports such as coffee, tea, minerals, flowers and pyrethrum all grew by 28.7% while the Government incentives to support the Made-in-Rwanda initiative drove growth of textiles by 158.8%.

How incredible is this? The Government of Rwanda introduced the ‘Made in Rwanda’ initiative in 2016, which was intended to:

· Boost consumption of locally-produced products· Enhance quality, standards, branding and packaging of locally produced products along the value chain · Change the mindset of the Rwandan people toward locally-made products· Boost value addition along the value chain of productionThe Minister for Trade and Industry called it a “comprehensive, campaign through a robust awareness campaign.” He further added, “We are calling upon producers to conduct intensive publicity about their products so as to complement the sustainability of the campaign,” he said.

What does this mean to you as a potential investor in Rwanda? Half the work is done for you in the value-add sector, as this is a top-down, intensive approach to ensure this is a success.Now, let’s face it, the value-add sector is extremely broad but as you can see, it has already been narrowed down to Made-in-Rwanda (which is one of the core objectives that drives our market by the way).

So how do you know where to start especially if you are new to the country or have lived here all/part of your life?One of the main keys to starting any business is solving an existing problem. Unless you are a gifted one like Einstein, it’s not easy to invent something but, it is definitely easier to NOT reinvent the wheel and just look at how you can solve the myriad of challenges Rwandan farmers are facing.

What are these challenges?According to Fortune Africa, and I whole-heartedly agree with them, they are:

  • Low quality produce as most production is intended for own family consumption hence local farmers do not have strong incentives to increase quality.
  • Lack of business skills and entrepreneurship.
  • The rural road infrastructure and transport is not yet fully developed to enable the farmer to promptly get farm input and also transport the farm produce to the market.
  • There is lack of sustainable market and post-harvest management for the small scale farmers in Rwanda.
  • Limited capital to develop the farms and local farmers also do not have easy access to funding from commercial banks.
  • The latest market information is not readily available to the small scale farmers and this results in the farmers selling at cheap price in order to avoid spoilage of agricultural products.
  • Shortage of fertile land
  • Lack of knowledge about modern farming methods including irrigation.
  • Lack of necessary equipment to use on the farm during planting, harvesting and value addition.
  • Lack of adequate supporting infrastructure to the sector like cold rooms, advisory services to the small farmers and mechanism for the small farmers to pull resources.

All these challenges affect value-add progress and if you can find a solution to one or all of the problems, you my friend have found a potential agri-business to start.

You have a solution, now what?Assuming your solution came about by doing extensive research and you’ve narrowed it down to a line of business you want to start, the next step would be to register the business. Rwanda has the fewest procedures and fastest processes in the whole of East Africa and possibly the world to register and start a business. It takes a few hours for this to be complete.You can register your business online at http://org.rdb.rw/ or at the Office of the Registrar General which is a department within the Rwanda Development Board located in the Kigali the capital city.

What other agencies/companies/Government bodies can be of help to you once you have registered and are starting/started the business? (This is by no means an extensive list but it is a good start/guide)

It would definitely be a miss if I didn’t mention the market.

Kigali Farmers’ And’ Artisans’ Market is a community market that offers a platform for producers, such as yourselves, who are developing, testing, introducing new value add products to the market. We connect you directly to consumers so that you can build and/or expand your brand ‘real time’. You can reach us on +250781446543 on both for calls/Whatsapp or you can drop us on email on info@kigalifarmersandartisansmarket.com

Others

National Agricultural Export Board –Their vision is to be a world class agriculture and livestock commodity export development enterprise through innovation

Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources Rwanda –Provide farmers and consumers of agricultural products with information, techniques and services meant for improving their profession and supplying the internal market with increased and quality production thereby raising their agricultural and animal husbandry income

Rwandex Chillington-Provides agricultural materials

Balton CP Rwanda-They supply everything that is required for growing crops and rearing livestock, along with expert advice on cultivation, animal husbandry and post-harvest solution

Inyange Industries-Produce various products ranging from water, milk and other milk products and juices

Rwanda Tea Authority-They produce and supply high quality teas to both local and international markets

Sorwatom SA Rwanda-Tomato processing plant

SodrisAgri Rwanda-Provide agricultural equipment and products

Remember to #buylocalsupportlocal and take time to #visitrwanda to see all the other amazing opportunities there are to invest in.

The author, Flo is the founder of Kigali Farmers’ And Artisans’ Market and is extremely passionate about community building focusing on the youth, women and PLWD running SMEs, micro and home industries.

Disclaimer: The opinions stated here are of the author and it’s imperative that one does their own extensive research before undertaking any kind of investment

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