STARTING SMALL ISN'T A BAD IDEA: THE CHICKEN FARMER - FARMERCIST 254

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Saturday, 3 March 2018

STARTING SMALL ISN'T A BAD IDEA: THE CHICKEN FARMER


Many people, with interest in farming, go in to it expecting nothing but huge profits. They are always encouraged by the stories of friends that have made it big in the fields. This has often led them to investing so much resources in their start-ups; and most people end up regretting this move.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with starting big..the question is 'how well do you know about this venture?' I used to wonder why banks were so reluctant to fund business start-ups. My friend Steve Mwema who had a lot of experience with SMEs explained to me that a bank would only be confident to fund a business that had known how to start small, made mistake and losses  (not necessarily), almost given up but then resiliently grown into a profit-making venture. As a farmer (read businessman) this today makes a lot of sense for me. It only makes economic sense to fund a business that has known to handle both profits and losses...start-ups have no experience in either.

Chicken farming works in the same way. When I settled down to do poultry farming as a business I had little idea on anything poultry...apart from how to keep a few kienyeji birds that I had kept, for a long time, as pets and without economic ties attached. I advise that every farmer should start small...to give yourself the opportunity to learn and grow with it. Here you are going to do trial and error, employ theory learned from friends and read in books, and even make serious mistakes. This is allowed! I don't write to mean that starting big is immoral (in fact big and small are relative). But in case you want to do a big thing as a srart-up, and especially if you have no prior experience with the birds then it is advisable to employ someone with experience and know-how to do it in-your-stead. Spending a few coins on an experienced farmworker will not cost as much as when you do it alone. All this time take your time to learn.

After seeing how passionate, about chicken, I was my friend Michael developed a lot of interest in the same. Every time I encouraged him...at least now we had something in common that we would spend our free time discusing. Mike saved enough then decided to go for a first order of 300 chicks against my advise to start with 50. I loved his ambition but I was so afraid. My worst fears were confirmed when he lost so many chicks and even after investing so much he couldn't get a good market for his treasures. I have since encouraged him to start again but his bad experiences has really killed his confidence.

For my case I had to grow from 4, then 50, then 100, then 200 and before I knew it I was comfortably doing 600. I made a lot of mistakes and losses in the process but still learned through all these and made something in the end. Starting small doesn't mean that one lacks focus and ambitions, it only means that you are optimistic and willing to grow with your business.

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