Scola Chepoighsho, a graduate in General Agriculture from South Eastern Kenya University (SEKU), embarked on her career journey with high hopes of securing a rewarding job.
Her initial success as a farm manager in Kitengela was short-lived, as she resigned after two years due to low pay and the demanding nature of the job. This experience led her to reevaluate her career aspirations.
''That was not the work I wished for. The experience at the farm made me look at employment differently,'' says Scola.
Determined to forge her path, Scola turned her attention to self-employment within the agricultural sector.
In 2021, an opportunity arose for her to train farmers in Makueni County, alongside Agricultural extension officers.
During these training sessions, Scola noticed that many farmers relied on recycled seeds, leading to suboptimal harvests. This realisation sparked an idea, and she decided to venture into the business of supplying certified seeds and other agricultural inputs.
''Being in the far-flung villages, it was not easy for farmers to access seeds and other inputs located in shopping centres and major towns," she says.
Facing challenges of accessibility in far-flung villages, Scola seized the opportunity to start her agrovet shop, Jamas, in Muvau Kikumini ward, Makueni. Using her savings and a loan, she initially operated the business from her house but later moved to a bigger shop as demand grew rapidly.
Her commitment to providing valuable advice on applying inputs and agrochemicals set her apart from competitors, earning her the trust of thousands of farmers.
To address transportation challenges during planting seasons, Scola invested in a motorbike and hired a rider to deliver inputs to customers in remote areas. The business continued to thrive, and Scola's dedication to customer satisfaction, including follow-ups and troubleshooting, resulted in a loyal customer base of over 6,000 farmers.
In a significant development, Scola partnered with Kenya Crops and Dairy Market Systems (KCDMS), a USAid project aimed at increasing agricultural production and reducing poverty in Kenya.
This partnership allowed her to expand her expertise into poultry farming, training farmers on various aspects of poultry management. This collaboration became a catalyst for her business as she began selling chicks and poultry feeds, ultimately becoming an agent for chick producers.
"With the project, I got the opportunity to train farmers in the poultry sector on poultry management such as caring for the chicks, feeding, control of pests and diseases, keeping records, and marketing."
Despite the notable success, Scola acknowledges the challenges she faces, such as seasonal fluctuations in crop sales and the impact of climate change, including prolonged droughts in the semi-arid region of Makueni. Nevertheless, her resilience and strategic decisions have propelled her agrovet business to success.
Scola's story exemplifies the transformative power of entrepreneurship in the agricultural sector, showcasing the potential for individuals to make a significant impact on rural communities while building sustainable businesses.
As she continues to navigate challenges and seize opportunities, Scola remains an inspiring figure for aspiring agribusiness entrepreneurs.
"I do follow-ups to ensure my customers are doing the right thing in their farms as instructed."