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Don't be cowed, sell horns to grow rich

By Isaac Kalua | August 30th 2015

Back in the 90s, I visited all major slaughterhouses in Kenya and even more in Uganda. Not because of some insatiable appetite for beef but because I had a lucrative order to export cow horns that would potentially earn me millions.

So while others were trooping to slaughterhouses to ferry meat, my sole purpose was to purchase horns!

Indeed, green money can be made in the most unlikely of ways. But for that to happen, we must think as if no box ever existed.

Cow horns are a major ingredient for buttons. Since virtually all the seven billion people in the world own clothing with buttons, cow horns are critical players in clothing the world. Besides , orns can be crafted into personal stamps, jewellery, cutlery, eyeglass frames and a host of other beautiful products. A pair of high-end cow horn frames can cost a whopping Sh 1.5 million, ironically making them worth at least one hundred cows! When you throw away the conventional box in business, you can race like Usain Bolt, to a healthy bottom line.

However, there can be no sweet success without sweat. Bolt, rehearses so hard that sometimes he ends up vomiting on the track as he trains. The same is true of our great athletes like David Rudisha.

Such efforts are the cornerstone of success in business. Once applied, the sky will be the threshold as opposed to the limit.

The key lesson from horns lies in throwing away the conventional box. Take any conventional business, turn it on its head and you will come face to face with unconventional business opportunities.

Whereas everyone is buying matatus to transport people, invest in bicycles and rent them out on a daily basis. But who would want to rent a bike? You may ask. If someone wanted to buy horns from me two decades ago, someone will definitely want to rent your bikes today — if you work hard and smart.

Turn the office rental sector on its head by investing in short term office rental schemes that cater for people who want to rent space on short term basis. This is exactly what the Storefront did in North America and is now worth billions of shillings. It helps people find temporary brick and mortar spaces also known as physical pop-up spaces.

Such unconventional approaches are often founded on sustainability, which emphasizes optimal usage of resources and minimal wastage. So when we translate an otherwise ‘worthless’ cow horn into a lucrative raw material, we are tapping into sustainability. This proves that when you throw away the conventional box, not only will you possibly smile all the way to the bank; you will also potentially contribute to regeneration as opposed to depletion.

Think green, act green!

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