• Saturday, May 25, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Vet doctor with entrepreneurial flair creates jobs from farming

businessday-icon

No matter the course of study, any individual with an entrepreneurial flair would definitely find expression one way or the other. The beautiful thing about entrepreneurship apart from creating wealth for the owner is the job creation for one or more people. In the case of Mayowa Oluyomi Oguntoyinbo, chief executive, A.Y.O Farms Limited, her contribution to food security exemplifies the additional beauty of entrepreneurship.

Oguntoyinbo is a graduate of veterinary medicine from the University of Ibadan  with a Masters in public health from Bournemouth University, United Kingdom. She has a certificate in entrepreneurial management from Enterprise Development Centre, Pan-Atlantic University.

Speaking on her business, she says, I started in 2011. We are into commercial crop production, livestock retail and direct farm produce delivery service. Her business vision is to create a farming business as a model for young generation of startups with interest in farming. Of note, is that farming has now become one of the surest ways for young Nigerians to get self-employed and create jobs for others with potential for wealth creation. The business aims to increase accessibility of quality farm produce to consumers irrespective of seasonal challenges.

Inspiration

Being a health practitioner, she was inspired by the need to produce quality food in safe and sustainable way. Therefore, the goal of the business is to consistently produce food such as leafy vegetables, peppers, maize, cassava for its identified target market.

Staffing

She says, “We hire raw labour that are willing to learn and mentor youth that are ready to embrace innovative farming without fear of risk. We have regular training for staff, improve their working condition via gradual migration to mechanised farming techniques and give rewards for performance. We have seven full time as of today and occasional temporary staff when the need arises.”

Funding

On her source of funding at the beginning, she says, “I have the support of my immediate family, personal savings,  as well as grant from the Federal Ministry of Finance in the form of  ‘Youwin.’ Your home is your first option to seek support in terms of financial and emotional encouragement, the grant came in quite useful.”

Challenges

Itemising the challenges of the business and how the business is coping, she says, “Water, skilled labour, road network, storage and input sourcing water, road networks are being managed,  networking with other farms and farmers alleviates the risk and burden of  input sourcing, labour issues persists hence the need to hire unskilled labour that can be trained, even if they leave the employment the skills will be transferred if they continue in the line of farming. As for storage, we are looking into the idea of a mini cold room and also started a monthly open access farm market in the neighboorhood estate so that we can get a wider customer database and sell to end-users directly in bulk at wholesale.”

Marketing

Oguntoyinbo and her staff do a lot of word-of-mouth advertising. She sometimes asks for referrals from existing customers. She attends food related fairs when the need and opportunity arises and is exploring school fairs as a valuable marketing tool to reach the young career women who need to source food for their households conveniently.

She has also used cost effective social media advertisement but these were not sufficient to draw in sales. She is optimistic that with increasing awareness for healthy and fresh produce people will make choices based on convenience and healthier options and traceability of product.

To open up the business to reach more customers she is adding another platform to the business – a Mobile Farmers Mart to reach urban dwellers (especially in estates and other residential areas) while people can still come to the farm-gate and negotiate prices.

Accounting

Oguntoyinbo monitors sales using online banking facilities and uses Open ERP software to record and monitor sales and purchase. To minimise errors, there is a joint vetting and reconciliation of records at the end of each month to ensure all sales are captured and there are no duplicate sales or purchases. Staff request for petty cash expenses are in a documented form for proper record keeping and subsequently posted on Open ERP.

She uses the services of Financial Adviser/Accountant for her accounts and finance. She authorises majority of the expense but the Financial Adviser/Accountant is always in the know to track it. Expense decisions are based on budget while extra-ordinary expenses are subject to her approval. She does not always grant the requested funds for an expense if she foresees it will tie down cash for longer than necessary or can be delayed till later.

Advice

Her advice to others looking to start or grow their business are:

• Do a survey of the need for the business from friends, family and colleagues.

•Ensure that there are alternative suppliers for your input and know where your competitors get their input.

•Write a business plan and have a mentor who is willing to look out for you and who you can learn from.

•Never be afraid to stop a sale if you realise that you do not have sufficient logistics or expertise to see it thorough. It is safer to say “I am sorry, we cannot make this transaction because we are short staffed” or “We cannot deal sustainably at this price at the moment”…. than to make a poor representation of the company.

•As a small business, avoid credit sales to large-scale corporate buyers and informal wholesalers that buy in bulk and want long credit term. Cash flow matters.

•Always keep a record of your expense and sale and keep your promise to reward your customers.

OLUYINKA ALAWODE