What it takes to run an agribusiness enterprise

Pauline Kimani

What it takes to run an agribusiness enterprise

Pauline Kimani is the Founder and a Director of Pamat foods, an agribusiness company that she started after leaving formal employment to go into full-time farming driven by the passion and business opportunity she saw in value addition. She takes the Kenya Business Guide through the ups and downs of running her business.

Pauline, you are a framer with a background in Information Technology right?

Yes! IT and Marketing. After my transition into a farmer, I have done various agriculture and food safety courses.

What inspired you to start Pamat foods?

Pamat foods was born following my frustrations as a farmer. I lost money to fake middlemen and to the challenge of poor infrastructure. Most of my produce would go bad before getting to the market.

Is it true that agri-business is lucrative?

This is a sector that is really growing in Kenya especially among the youth. A lot of education and campaigns have been done on agribusiness hence the interest.

Where and how do you get your products?

Some of the produce comes from our farm. However, most comes from small scale farmers we have partnered with in Muranga and Kiambu counties. We pick the produce from a central location.

How did you go about registering your business?

We registered our business in 2014 as a limited company called Matpal Enterprises Limited. We use Pamat Foods as a trade name.

What challenges did you face?

For us to register a Limited company, we went to a lawyer and it took us three weeks. The main hurdle we faced was getting the market to think differently about value-added food products. Because we dry bananas, sweet potatoes, arrowroots, cassava, terere etc, it forced us to spend a lot of money marketing our products during exhibitions and door to door campaigns.

And how many licenses or permits do you need to run Pamat foods?

We need: Business Registration, VAT certificate, Kenya Bureau of Standard permit and a Trade license.

How much capital did you start with?

We started with KSh 2.5 million.

Have you ever borrowed money for your business?

No.

How long did it take before you broke even?

We broke even in November 2016. Close to 2.5 years.

What technical support/expertise did you need for your business and how did you get it?

As an SME, our problem was in manpower sourcing, book keeping and waste management, but after joining the Kenya Agribusiness Agroindustry Alliance (KAAA) under switch Africa green, we have been getting trainings and follow ups.

Have you ever encountered corruption?

No.

What is the worst mistake you have made as an entrepreneur?

I have done many businesses. Looking back, the worst mistake I ever made was to start a business that I did not understand well. I burnt my fingers but I took away valuable lessons that informed me when I was starting Pamat Foods.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting out in self-employment?

I wish I had started earlier!

What advice would you give someone who wants to start a similar business like yours?

Go for what you believe in and you know it has a future.

Five years from now, where do you see Pamat foods?

To be a market leader in the provision of natural, sweet and healthy foods in East and  Central Africa.