Small Enterprise

Dairy cows and fruits mint cash for former banker

Ms Loise Marangu, 32, feeds her dairy cows. She milks nine of them. PHOTO | COURTESY
Ms Loise Marangu, 32, feeds her dairy cows. She milks nine of them. PHOTO | COURTESY 

Loise Marangu ditched three promising opportunities, which angered her colleagues.

First, she spent two years at Kagumo Teachers Training College in Nyeri County and proceeded to graduate with a diploma, but instead of heading straight to the classroom after getting a Teachers Service Commission registration number, the then 22-year-old opted for a higher diploma course at Kenya Technical Training College (KTTC).

After her stint at KTTC, she joined Equity Bank where she worked for four years.

“I was working for a monthly salary, but that was Equity’s dream not mine. In life, you need to live your dream to its full achievement or you risk working to help others achieve their dreams,” she recalled.

Her third chance came when the government announced a youth competition jointly sponsored with TechnoServe, a non-governmental organisation. She was among 7,000 youth who filed business proposals.

“I put in a fish pond application, which caught the eyes of the judges and I was sponsored to fly to the US for a month during which we visited various farms and attended classes. Upon my return I bought one cow, constructed fish ponds and unsuccessfully reared fish,” she says.

After the failed fish farming venture, Ms Marangu resigned from the bank to venture into dairy farming on her in-laws’ farm.

The mother-of-two grew her dairy cows rearing business as demand for milk rose.

She learnt skills on fodder production and also enhanced her knowledge on milk and dairy cows management.

“Can you wear gumboots, can you stand dirt and broken nails coupled with a shaggy look?” she posed during the interview. “Farming requires a hard worker and has helped me reap good returns from my work.”

Speaking from her Mbeere Farm at Rwiku area of Mbeere county, Ms Marangu said that she contracted several fodder farmers and employed two attendants who look after her healthy herd of 17 heifers.

Ms Marangu uses the manure produced by the cows to enrich her watermelon orchard.

She invested Sh300,000 in a one-acre fruit farm, which she leased from a local farmer.

She has hired three casual workers who help her tend the farm. She expects to earn about Sh600,000 from the fruits after 60 days.

“ I belong to a local dairy production group which also engages in watermelon farming. The group taught me how to utilise my manure. Nothing goes to waste at my three quarter piece of land where I have my dairy enterprise,” she said.

The farmers’ group has been receiving entrepreneurship training from TechnoServe, which recently signed a two-year partnership with Barclays Bank’s corporate social programme.

Ms Marangu milks 110 litres daily, supplies 60 litres to an institution while the rest is sold at a milk bar that she operates in Embu town.

With a litre going for Sh60, Ms Marangu earns about Sh6,600 per day part of which she spends on her workers’ salaries and on the enterprise.

Ms Regina Gichuhi-Mwangi, Barclay’s Bank’s head of Citizenship Programme, said that their partnership with TechnoServe sought to impress upon the youth that farming can be as rewarding as white collar jobs.

“Our education system erroneously inculcates the wrong notion that only white collar jobs matter. We are running an online programme where about 150 youths have graduated from the initiative, which trains them to create enterprises that can employ others,” she said.

Cyprian Amakalia, the TechnoServe business advisor, said the programme equips youths with entrepreneurship skills and also links budding enterprises with the market.

“The people, money and the entrepreneurship philosophy is a practical approach to the real world of work.

‘‘Upon completion of the programme our youth know the importance of networking with like-minded people which helps nurture (them),” she said.