When we think of farming, we often picture people in worn-out garbs surrounded by greenery. They may be bent over and striking the ground with hoes, or plucking fruits or cobs and dropping them into the baskets they’re carrying.
Read more about Business
Or they could be in a pen, tending to hundreds of chickens.
This doesn’t accurately describe Anthony Owei. He’s certainly a farmer, but he’s seated in a neat, air-conditioned office. That’s where he runs ePoultry, an AgriTech that connects investors with earning opportunities in poultry farming.
But he’s keen on not demeaning the sweaty-man-in-a-pen image. It does portray what he was earlier on in his journey as an agricultural entrepreneur.
“Do you want to make an impact, or just have a flashy brand?” he asks, referring to people who do not regard farmers like they would lawyers and bankers. “I’ve brought prestige to my business as an agriculturist. You need to bring glamour and prestige to yours.”
His confidence isn’t unfounded. As of the time of writing this piece, every one of the poultry investments listed on ePoultry has been fully subscribed.
This success hasn’t come without a learning curve.
Finding The Hidden Treasure
Anthony remembers that most people in his family aspired to what they believed was a ‘reputable’ profession.
“The wealthiest person in our family was an engineer at Chevron,” he explains. “We wanted to follow his example. We were told to go to school, earn a degree, and get a job in a bank, become an engineer, or something like that.”
He says he only encountered agriculture close up when he moved to Kenya.
“In Nigeria, people want to hold an oil block,” he notes. “There [in Kenya] they wanted to hold land. They exported a lot of farm produce, and made a lot of money from it.”
A drought in 2011 also alerted him to the problem of African countries’ dependence on other nations for food imports, and the opportunities that lay in solving this problem.
“I did my research and discovered that Africa imports billions of dollars worth of food every year. The farmers that grow this food and sell them across borders are paid in dollars. And I thought to myself, How can you say that farming is a poor man’s business?”
Sign up to the Connect Nigeria daily newsletter
Setting Out On The Journey
Anthony decided that Nigeria’s 60% gap in poultry products supply was too big to pass up. So he sought funding to start up. In 2013, he got a grant from the Federal Government’s YouWin program. He spent most of the money on setting up the business. Today, he considers that move a mistake.
“We invested in land, infrastructure, etc. But then we had no money to take care of daily operations,” he recalls. He notes that if he were to start over again, he would invest in retailing the product first, and build infrastructure as the business grew.
He’s learned lessons along the way and is now more careful with planning expenses.
As the business (Tonyve Farm) grew, people began inquiring about investing their money in it. So in 2019, he founded e-Poultry to enable the public to invest in poultry farms– not just his own.
The platform lists poultry projects, along with the total funds needed to close the investment and the projected percentage returns for the project. Persons interested can invest in units of the total project, and receive returns when the investment cycle ends.
Because he’s been a farmer himself, Anthony has a grasp of the market that many others in AgriTech don’t. As a result, investors trust his judgment. They’ve come in droves.
A Word For Businesses And Investors
Anthony has a past in finance. He’s been an e-business officer for a bank and has a degree in International Business Administration and Finance. In advising other business founders, he draws from these, as well as his experience as an entrepreneur.
“Understand what you do as a business, and what impact you aim to achieve,” he says.
For investors, he suggests they look for opportunities presented by people with experience in the industry or niche they’re trying to get investment for.
“Understand the business they’re investing in. If you’re crowdfunding, you should understand the space and know-how to manage the money and invest in income-generating assets. Also, have enough money to meet your everyday business needs.”
If you would like to hear more success stories from entrepreneurs in Nigeria, tune in to Business Connect Weekly. It goes live every Friday by noon, on the Connect Nigeria Instagram page.
Featured Image Source: ePoultry NG
Got a suggestion? Contact us: email@example.com