By Betsy Ramser Jaime
James Irungu is a 26-year-old businessman from Muranga County in Kenya. He currently works as the founder and manager of Mugoiri Modern Small-Scale Farming Organization (MMSFO).
James shares, ‘As the manager I liaise with the Farmers Training Centre (F.T.C) and other stakeholders to train youth groups in agribusiness. I am a very innovative and creative young man whose hobbies include swimming and playing handball.’
James started the MMSFO organization in 2013 and its mission is to empower the youth with skills in modern small-scale farming. He continues, ‘This project sprouted from urbanization and unpredictable weather patterns that have dealt agriculture in the region a blow in terms of low productivity. Urbanization has led to the subdivision of once vast farming areas into small units of land that are unsuitable for profitable agricultural enterprises. In addition to this, the youth have a poor perception of agriculture. The objective of the project is to deliver knowledge and skills in small-scale farming techniques to the youth while empowering them in capital intensive agribusiness and to enable them to make more informed choices in agriculture for improved and sustainable livelihoods.’
Describing the project and the training James explains, ‘The project involves setting up a drip-irrigated model farm. Armed with this knowledge, the youth groups are in a position to liaise with the Youth Enterprise Fund intermediaries in their Counties for funding. The intermediaries carry out viability assessments for all proposed business plans. The training averagely runs for a duration of 1 week after which an evaluation is carried out to determine the level of adoption of new technologies among the youth. Productivity levels in the model farms are later assessed and compared with other non-irrigated farms where it is proved that the drip-irrigated model offers improved and sustainable farming and is profitable in terms of Agri-business.’
So far, in his time with Zidisha, James has raised half a dozen Zidisha-funded loans between 2014 and 2022. With his initial loan of $150, James sought to hire 3 trainers and 4 farmhands. With the remaining funds, he also purchased a variety of equipment and tools.
The following year, in April 2015, James continued to purchase new equipment including drip irrigation equipment, gardening tools, seeds, fertilizer, and pesticides.
By September 2015, things were continuing to go well as James raised $605 and shared, ‘following two successful projects in farming, we intend to expand our capacity in horticulture farming through purchasing water pump and irrigation pipes. This is estimated to cost Ksh 80000. We intend to use funds raised through Zidisha to add up to retained returns to purchase a water pump and irrigation pipes. This has been necessitated by radical weather changes on the farm. We remain positive that this will reduce the cost of farming in the long run and consequently increase profitability.’
Then, in April 2016, with a $917 Zidisha funded loan, James and his team were able to venture into additional crops such as onions and garlic.
Most recently, in April 2022, James secured a loan of $753 and shared his progress, ‘I intend to extend my agribusiness farming by adding two more acres. This will increase the output and profitability of the business. It will also give me a chance to add an additional worker to the farm thus creating employment. From this venture I will increase my profit by 30%. I have been working on four acres for the past five years but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I reduced it to 2 acres. I have now secured additional an two acres to work on.’
Would you like to make a difference in the life of an entrepreneur like James? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to see what other Zidisha business owners are doing around the world.
Betsy is a Writer and Editor living in Florida with her husband. She has been writing with Zidisha for 5 years and loves sharing the inspiring stories of Zidisha entrepreneurs. You can connect with her on her personal website.