When Awuor Were started keeping poultry four years ago, the ex-hotelier was simply looking for a way to supplement her income in the face of increasing financial needs.
She started off with about 300 broilers but has since grown her brood to about 1,700 birds, which she houses in a two storey 720 square foot structure in Nyalenda, Kisumu County.
Ms Were says her passion for poultry-keeping started when she was working as a receptionist at a Kisumu hotel.
While there, she noticed that the hotel purchased a lot of chicken meat and eggs every week, the demand which she was certain was replicated in the city and its environs.
“After graduating from Maseno University in 2006, I got employed soon thereafter. At some point, however, I started rearing poultry in my backyard as a side job in order to make ends meet,” she told Enterprise in an interview.
“However, I felt that I was not fully exploiting my potential. Balancing employment with business was hard. For the business to thrive to my expectations, I had to manage it full-time and deliver to customers’ needs. I quit work in 2013.”
Armed with Sh160,000 in savings from the seven years of employment, the 36-year-old entrepreneur built pens and bought 300 day-old chicks as well as feeds. Each chick cost her Sh78.
Within five weeks, Ms Were says, she sold all the chicken each going for Sh450 at the local market and restocked. The business was ready for takeoff, she says.
“All I did for a long time was just buy chicks, rear them, sell then restock. I did not inject fresh capital into the business since I did not have it. I simply reinvested my profits from the sales,” says the mother-of-two.
At any given time, she would sell about 90 per cent of her stock, with the rest mostly falling victim to diseases such as the Newcastle disease, a deadly respiratory illness that attacks birds.
However, the farmer says, she soldiered on, taking the challenges as they came in her stride and learning from them.
“The first challenge I came across was limited access to information.
“For instance, my pens were substandard. I had to demolish them and construct them afresh. I have been learning from the mistakes,” she says.
“I have also learned consistent supplies and professionalism are the cornerstones of this business. I want the customer to be confident that they can get chicken anytime they want.”
The farmer feeds the birds early in the morning, cleans and fills the drinkers. She has three employees who help her run the farm.
In a month, she buys about 90 50-kilogramme bags of feeds. Each retails at Sh3,200, making feeds the single largest expense.
She supplies the chicken to major hotels in Kisumu including her former employer, Nyanza Golf Club, as well as to butcheries. In a good month, she makes about Sh600,000 from selling the broilers.
She says the business has boosted her confidence and helped meet her family needs comfortably.
In five years, the poultry farmer plans to expand the business and sell at least 1,000 birds on weekly basis.