By Betsy Ramser Jaime
Growing up in Coastal Kenya, Ken Mutinda earned a B.Sc degree in Horticulture, studying at Egerton University. After graduating, he found the lack of jobs frustrating, but used his circumstance as an opportunity to start his own business with a small amount of money that he’d been able to save up. With 500 mango seedlings, he set out to start his nursery. However, this was just the beginning for Ken.
Today, Ken has a diverse set of businesses. He explains, ‘My business is mainly poultry farming whereby we are involved in selling both eggs and meat. I also invest in small scale cattle and goat farming. The rest of the farm area is covered in agroforestry whereby we grow crops and trees for sustainability. The trees are sometimes harvested for timber and firewood. This helps to boost the financial status especially for home use. There is also a small tree nursery whereby seedlings are sold at affordable prices.’
In addition to all of the above business ventures, he also has experience making soap-less detergent which he has sold to car wash businesses.
Since joining the Zidisha community in 2015, Ken has raised 6 Zidisha funded loans. With his first loan of $200 he started by purchasing materials for his tree nursery business such as, ‘seeds, fertilizer, and sleeves.’ He put the remaining funds towards his detergent business.
The following year, in March 2016, he raised a slightly larger loan, of $301. This loan allowed him to buy a wide variety of supplies and labor costs including: ‘seed, fertilizer, ploughing, planting labor, spraying costs, weeding, fungicide, and insecticide.’
With his following loans from March to October 2017, Ken received a total of $2,411 to work on some big projects. He started by repairing his fence to protect against the elements and also sought to pay for a water tank and water pipe. Following this, his next big project was the building of a farmhouse. To make this dream a reality, he purchased: ‘blocks, sand, timber, cement, windows, doors, roofing sheets, and also covered labor costs.’
By October 2017, Ken was putting some final touches on his farmhouse with plastering, painting, installing tap water, and setting up a solar power system. He shared, ‘This will assist me and my family to lead a better life on the farm and hence develop the farm for small scale farming. The solar system will give us a free power supply and also assist in reducing environmental degradation. I also intend to set up a biogas digester for cooking purposes. Thank you and be blessed.’
Most recently, Ken acquired a Zidisha funded loan for $1,561 in April 2018 and was able to use the funds to purchase a motorbike as he writes, ‘The motorbike will help me to reduce my domestic transport costs hence increasing the profitability of my business. In the long-run it will give the motorbike a higher resale value and also increase my asset base. It will also help in-case of an emergency.’
20020 has been a difficult year globally, but even with uncertainty and changes in business, Ken is still moving forward. On November 30, 2020, he took to his discussion page and shared this update, ‘I take this opportunity to thank my lenders for the support they have given me. The Corona pandemic has really affected most of us especially in our economic and social aspects. Most people including me have been rendered jobless. This loan is going to give me a second chance to try and get on my feet once again. I will first begin by digging out the well which will take maybe up to one month to complete. During this period I will also purchase the water pump and excavate the pond. I have been in contact with a fish farm who will supply the fingerlings and also assist with more information about feeds. We have been having problems with water supply and so this will help a lot. I will also indulge in vegetable farming and hence expand my poultry enterprise. Thank you for the support you have given me. May God bless you abundantly.’
Would you like to make a difference in the life of a business owner like Ken? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read about Zidisha entrepreneurs that are changing their communities all over the world.