Maize, beans, groundnuts, green grams and rice are some the grains one finds at a shop owned by Eagle Sight Youth Group in Lake View ward in Naivasha, Nakuru County.
The produce, placed in gunny bags, is in various varieties giving one an array of choice as they shop.
But the group of 11 members does not only sell the raw grains, they also add value to them, ending up with packaged rice, groundnuts, pop corns and flour.
“We started the business in 2018 with a capital of Sh30,000,” says Joel Mureithi, the chairman of the group. “We are 11 members, eight men and three women. Initially, we were doing table-banking and engaged in maize and beans farming.”
They later opened the cereals’ shop, at first selling only raw grains before embarking on value addition.
“We have several value added products that include Eagle rice, Eagle njugu, Eagle popcorns, Eagle porridge flour and Eagle ndengu,” he offers, adding they are members of Vijabiz, a mentorship project that has helped them grow.
Once they get the raw grains, they remove the dirt, dry thoroughly and then pack in branded packets or mill first at their shop where they have the milling machines before packing.
“Every day, we add value to approximately 30kg of various produce and supply to customers that include households, retail shops and hotels,” he says, adding they make the products depending on market demands.
Though they have regular customers, the group members also engage in door-to-door hawking of the produce, visit retail shops in search of new customers and sell their products online on social media sites and online marketplaces like Mkulima Young.
“We started online marketing recently after training and the other day we were happy when we received orders from customers who saw our products,” says Mureithi, noting that the group runs social media pages on Facebook and Twitter for visibility.
And as the country battles to contain the spread of Covid-19, Mureithi says the disease has affected their business.
“Some customers, especially those who run hotels, reduced their orders. We have also lost the orders we had from schools.”
But it is not all gloom, Eagle Sight Group has opened another branch in Naivasha to widen their market.
Besides Covid-19 disruption, other challenges they face include the fluctuating prices of cereal products.
“Prices in most cases are determined by demand and supply of the grains. Sometimes they shoot up affecting our pricing when we add value and yet most customers would not be willing to pay more due to the current economic challenges,” says Joseph Kamau, the treasurer.
Stella Kendi of Ustadi Foundation says mentorship and training are key in success of youth agribusiness.
“The youth need skills in information and communication technology and management and should visit other people engaging in similar trade for skills development.”
All the group members participate actively in the running of the business and they have shared roles to ensure their operations run smoothly.
In five years, the group plans to expand their agribusiness and create jobs for more youth.
“We hope to own our own land where we can plant maize and beans for sale at the cereal shop and also add value. We also hope to buy vehicles that we can use to supply our products to our clients,” he says.