Diaspora pig farmer wins Sh5.8 million innovation award
More often than not, Kenyans who leave the country to settle abroad are more content with remitting money back home for their families’ upkeep and to invest in real estate through proxies. Rarely do they set up enterprises back home, whose management they personally oversee.
Enter David Kiambati, who decided to do exactly that by setting up Pork Delights Limited (PDL) of which he is the Business Development Manager.
As its name suggests, the Kiambu-based firm was started to meet a growing demand for pork products in Kenya and the East Africa region. Besides supplying pigs to meat processors, Mr Kiambati and his two colleagues also produce organic fertiliser and plan to commercialise biogas production from the animals’ waste by 2016.
Mr Kiambati, who is based in Sacramento, California, says there is demand in the local pig market and meeting it, as well as making use of pig waste, offers huge business potential.
“Our primary focus is raising pigs for sale and promoting pork as a good alternative source of protein,” he says.
PDL could be on to something as the Economic Survey 2012 indicates that 223,500 pigs were slaughtered in the country last year, representing a per cent increase from 217,200 in 2010. This increase was attributed to an “increased demand for bacon and sausages.”
Nelson Muikia, who is based in the country, is the general manager of the firm, and keeps his pulse on the regional market, creating a relationship with suppliers.
“Our current customers are the major commercial pork processors, namely Farmers Choice, Oscar Ltd and Chef’s Choice,” said Mr Muikia. “Other players in the meat processing field are facing the scarcity of raw materials (pigs) for production processing and this is the shortage we intend to meet.”
Although the production of biogas is yet to start, the firm has Agnes Wanjiku, a former marketer at Total Kenya Oil, to handle its production and distribution.
Mr Kiambati believes that while sending money back home should not be discouraged, he still felt he could go the extra mile and start something which is sustainable and economically productive.
He adds that running a new business from abroad is difficult as he lost money in earlier ventures that collapsed.
“In a business relationship such as ours, trust and the need for the team to share a common goal are important qualities to succeed,” said Mr Kiambati, who has been in the US for over 10 years but intends to return to Kenya soon.
Last week, PDL got a monetary boost of $70,000 (Sh5.8 million) from the annual African Diaspora Marketplace (ADM) programme, sponsored by among others, Western Union and United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The money includes technical assistance valued at $20,000 (Sh1.6 million) where the winning projects are monitored over two years.
The programme, which is in its second year, is essentially an annual competition for entrepreneurs where they present their business ideas from which the best are picked and funded.
“This programme shows how diaspora communities are fostering positive change in their home countries helping to drive financial access and economic opportunity in developed and developing countries,” said Aida Diarra, regional vice- president for North, Central and East Africa, the Western Union Company.
This year’s event was held in New York in December and the winners were picked on Tuesday last week from a short list of 40 entrepreneurs. Two other Kenyan businesses were also named winners. African Boreholes Initiative Limited, a company which specialised in digging boreholes in the country, is one of them.
The firm emerged top for the organic Amiran Farmers Kit, a new product they have developed in collaboration with Amiran Kenya Limited.
The organic kit comprises a greenhouse, drip system irrigation hose for the greenhouse and an eight acre of open field, a water tank, protective clothing and sprayer equipment.
Organic inputs in the model include pesticides, fungicides and soil nutrients.
The other winner was AfricaNewsNet which aims to provide online news content from across the continent, packaged and made available from a central online portal.
The firm intends to set up editorial, sales and marketing operations in three key African cities, and eventually establish a presence in every African country.