AgriBusiness Mentorship – Building Your Future Now

Written by Kelvin Nguyi, a student at Multimedia University of Kenya and and currently taking part in the Lapid Leaders Experience:

Meet Samuel Ndonga, a leading agribusiness consultant, Venture Capitalist and investor. He is currently a Consultant Investment Manager for  Africa Agriculture and Trade Investment Fund (AATIF), a Trustee at The Economic Projects Transformational Facility, a Director at Act! Act Change Transform and a Member of the Advisory Board at BlueInventure TM . We recently had the opportunity to meet and interact with Sammy Ndonga. We were all filled with questions on how  to succeed in Agribusiness and generally business. After a brief introduction he dived into giving us great insights in the sector.

What is the scope of Agribusiness?

Agribusiness is wide. It is simply classified according to various stages / processes in the creation and distribution of the farm inputs and produce.The scope is classified into four broad processes:

  1. Farm Inputs – These are the businesses that are in the manufacturing and distribution of farm inputs. They  include but are not limited to fertilizers, seeds and farm machinery.
  2. Production – This mainly involves the farmers. They bear the largest risks in the whole process. Despite all the risks they still get great rewards and have the largest potential. These types of businesses are more “value driven” than “volumes driven”.
  3. Processing – These are businesses involved in the packaging, grading and processing.
  4. Marketing – These are processes that are involved in the exporting, wholesale and retail distribution of farm produce.

 What does it take to be successful in agribusiness and the exporting market?

To be successful in agribusiness, or any business, you have to focus on the following:

  1. Product / Service – This is what you offer to the market. You have to ensure that your product appeals to and surpasses the standards / requirements of the target market.
  2. Process – The process in delivering your product / service has to be as efficient and effective as possible. Ensure you minimize costs and maximize outputs in the process stage without compromising on quality of product. This is especially important for those involved in volume driven businesses.
  3. People – The people are the core of any business. This is much more important if one is in a value driven business as the customers are paying extra for excellence in process of service/product delivery and quality customer service
  4. Market – You have to know the needs of the people and how you will deliver these. You need to identify your market segment. How do you do this? By conducting a market study. Make sure, also, that you deliver and capture the value on your market focus. What is the purchasing power of your market? Quantify this by comparing the price they will pay and the level of quality they will expect.

How to  conduct a successful market study?


To conduct a successful market study, you should first conduct a detailed desk study on your speculated market segment. Deliver a report of all the assumptions you have made while conducting the study. Based on these assumptions and other ambiguities, create a questionnaire. Use the questionnaire, then, to conduct a field study. The study should be conducted on a recommended number of more than 30 individuals (recommended least sample number for a market study). Adapt the solution you have crafted for the market based on the results of the field study.

How does one succeed in greenhouse farming?

  • Identify the market you want to serve ­ Which products are in demand? Is the demand growing or shrinking? Is this affecting the price? Environmental conditions ­
  • How is the soil pH, nutrients in the soil and the overall environmental conditions? Are they going to yield the highest quality yield? It is always advisable to conduct contract farming whereby the produce, if achieves required quality, is already purchased.

How does one begin farming in a scalable manner?

  • Again, Identify the market you want to serve ­ Which products are in demand? Is the demand growing or shrinking? Is this affecting the price?
  • Design for long term ­ Plan for scaling from the beginning. Get land where availability is large allowing growth, structure your farm in a scallable manner. Develop structures. Delegate duties etc
  • Lease for long-­term ­ It is always preferable to lease that to buy. Whether land or equipment. This will free up finances that can be used to scale further
  • Make good decisions ­ Every decision should be based on whether it will increase efficiency or effectiveness. That way all your decisions will make scaling easier.

What advice would you give anyone planning or starting a business?

  1. Proper planning ­ Ensure to plan adequate for everything by doing quality research,data collection and consulting . This will ensure increased resourcefulness.
  2. Design for long­term ­ In everything you do, be focused on the destination even as you plan for the immediate future.
  3. Invest in knowledge ­ Whether by studying yourself, surrounding yourself with learned people. Hire if need be. Knowledge is key
  4. Create networks ­ Build your networks daily. The proper people will not only make it easier to achieve what you want but also create new, greater horizons for your dreams and ambitions
  5. Be the best ­ Ensure that you are raising the bar for others. Excellence is key for long term success and endurance Consistency ­ Deliver on a day­to­day basis

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