Ladies and gents the moment we have all been waiting for has finally come. It’s time to unveil the winner of The Sinapis Business Plan competition.We at Sinapis organization have spent the last couple of weeks compiling Business Plans and preparing our entrepreneurs for the business plan pitch off.
We were excited to see all these amazing businesses grow and the amazing work produced by our entrepreneurs this year.
These past few months have not been a walk in the park for neither of us. Sinapis had the opportunity to hold its 2nd annual business plan competition and graduation ceremony at the K.I.C.C Grounds during the Pre-Global Entrepreneurship Summit. We also had a chance to exhibit this years’ Fast Track Fellows businesses at the Pre-Global Summit.
After much deliberation by the judges and clearly, it been a hard decision to make especially now that these businesses were so diverse; The award was given to Yvonne Ann Otieno of Miyonga Fresh Greens Ltd.
A look into the everyday life of Yvonne at Miyonga Fresh Greens ltd and a never before personal interview on how she managed to win over the Judges during the competition.
Congratulations on winning the most sort after Sinapis award. This was a tough competition; how does winning the Business Plan Competition feel like?
Thank you. Winning the competition is exciting and humbling at the same time. Humbling because there were five other finalists who were also extremely good and engaged in viable businesses. So I don’t take it for granted. When I heard that the farm had won, I remember thinking my work has just began for real. People now have higher expectations of me. If I thought winning was tough, meeting the expectations placed on me just by winning is even tougher. I remember thinking that this is no longer about me staying in business, it is about me ensuring that my staff can be assured of a stable income. I am taxed with the job of multiplying the USD 10K by applying everything I learnt in Sinapis.
How do you plan on using the money?
Installation of drips at the farm!
Tell us a little about Miyonga Fresh Greens ltd.
Miyonga Fresh Greens is a 20 acres transitional farm located in Machakos county. We grow fresh vegetables for the export market. We believe in applying technology, scientific knowledge and modern management techniques to farming to drive economic and social impact.We aim to produce high quality horticultural products grown fairly and sustainably and under the highest food safety standards.We do this by applying on science-based knowledge while observing our core values of integrity, excellence, vitality, empowerment and partnerships.We begun with 1.5 acres then 5 acres under furrow irrigation and now we have 20 acres and we plan to have 10 acre under drip irrigation.
How did the Sinapis program influence your business?
Sinapis is exactly what my business needed! 4months of intensive reading and practical skills on entrepreneurship. Sinapis helped me identify my visionary client, define the vision and mission of the company and empowered me with the proper financial skills required to run a business. The final exercise on writing a business plan and presenting it to potential funders was just the icing on cake. Life skills that every entrepreneur should have.
What tips would you give to the entrepreneurs hoping to win in the next competition? What would you advise them to consider when it comes to pitching and presenting their business plan to investors?
When I was practicing my pitch and I shared it with Frank Omondi from Ten Senses a Sinapis Alumni who was also participating in the Alumni Pitch off and he asked me two questions. What have you done to date and what do you need for your business to grow? This two questions helped me focus of my pitch. I would give others the same advice – don’t focus on winning. Focus on the bigger vision and mission of your business. Focus on why you are in business, the problems that your business is solving and how much your business has achieved , then clearly and simply articulate what the business is lacking in order solve more or the problem.
Who are your major clients?
Exporters of French beans and baby corn. Our growth plans include increasing our product offering to chilies and passion fruits
What challenges do you encounter while exporting fresh produce? How do you overcome them?
The fluctuating prices based on the seasons and the high working capital during high season the prices of French beans can be as high as Ksh 200 per Kg products can high and in low season the prices can be Ksh 30 per Kg. My advice is for farmers to sign a contract with the buyers at an agreed price and honor your commitment to the exporter. I know that the temptation to sell the produce at a higher price than the contracted price is high during high season, but if you honor your commitment even when the market prices as higher, you are assured of a market for your produce when the season is low. Plus this is where principles of Kingdom business can be applied. Are you a person of integrity? I also advice those getting into farming not to put any seed on the ground until they know where they are going to sell it. A contract is the sure bet for a ready market for your produce. Plus you can use your contract to negotiate for credit lines and this helps address the second problem of high working capital.
You had to work in late to perfect your pitching and business plan. How do you balance both Family and work? Any tips to parents who are also entrepreneurs?
knowing that there is a time to work and a time to play…helps create a balance between family time and work time.My Family understand every aspect of the business because I talk about it with them. They are my greatest cheerleaders. For parents are entrepreneurs…consider your family as a motivation and not a destruction from your business. Setting aside time for your family will give you the energy you need to face the challenges of the business world because it can get quite competitive out here
Where do you see Miyonga in the next 5 years?
Growth. Diversification. Impact. We plan to grow by product development and market penetration. Our future plans include increasing our product offering and our client portfolio. Most importantly, Miyonga Fresh Greens hopes to contribute to improving the livelihoods of those in our immediate community especially women by providing them with a stable income which would means better access to health and education of their children.