January 31st, 2020

Start-Up Pains

Starting and running a startup isn’t easy at all. And when you are bootstrapping and having raised investment, the difficulty goes up a notch higher. Every day and every week, you keep grinding, faced with challenges you must solve to remain afloat; sometimes you are not sure if you would make it to the next month. That has been our experience at kitovu.com.ng.

Just last week, my team and I celebrated a huge victory. We successfully got three individuals to give us 1.5 Million Naira for which we were going to give them 12% ROI in three months. What did we need the money for? To complete the outstanding balance so as to pay upfront for the custom blending of fertilizers; a precondition giving by our Fertilizer partner. And then, we sold it all!! And the best part of our story? We returned the money and the ROI in just two weeks!!! 1.5 Million Naira seems so little but it stood between us and the next step in our journey.

You see, Kitovu takes an unconventional approach to ensuring that we can fulfill our objective of helping farmers make more money off their farms. We aggregate soil data which enables us to custom blend fertilizers to take into account soil nutrient levels, and crop nutrient needs. That way, we have been able to consisitently triple crop yields. But that’s not all we do, we also collect market demand data to obtain insight on what farmers should grow to maximize offtake from commodity buyers.

This week, we are face with a new challenge, and like all the challenges we have faced in the past, it appears like its make or break. We have to train 300 youths in Kaduna, Kano, Niger, Ebonyi, Oyo, and Ogun States, in extenstion, soil management and demand aggregation. These young people would work with farmers to raise their yields and create income for themselves as well while at it. The snag is that we are out of our wits end as to how to make this happen. These trainings are free becuase we target completely unemplyed youths. We have no money to pay for venues, accomodation, their transportation or even to feed them! So why did we go ahead and issue a call for applications, have thousands apply, and go ahead to shortlist candidates who now wait for us to give them feedback on when we kick off? Because my team and I are convinced that like all other challenges, this too would pass, and successfully too!

63% of all unemployed people in Nigeria are young people,and we hope that through this approach, we can help a lot of young people create incomes for themselves, while ensuring that Kitovu’s commitment of helping raise the incomes of smallholder farmers they work with from under $1 a day to at least $3. But we need your help, your encouragement and sponsorship. It would cost us just about $45 to train one young person and I know with your help we can make it happen. If you would love to help us continue on our journey, you can sponsor at least one young person. Kindly mail us with your support at info@kitovu.com.ng. You can also bring this to the attention of people who might love to help make this happen. Thank you for your help!

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