How to navigate challenges, succeed in agrovet business

From humble beginnings to establishing a thriving agrovets business, Monica Karanja has navigated challenges, seized opportunities, and remained committed to serving her community. [iStockphoto]

During the rainy season, Monica Karanja experiences a peak in business activity, as most of her clients, primarily farmers, either purchase farm products or seek her extension services.

Karanja, the founder of Mohson Inputs Agrovets located in Nakuru along Oginga Odinga Road, attributes her success in business to her father, who instilled entrepreneurial skills in her at a tender age.

When Enterprise caught up with Karanja, 30, at her business premises, she was occupied attending to customers.

“I apologise for finding me busy; during the rainy season, the place is always bustling with customers preparing for the plantation season. Most of them seek my assistance,” she said.

Her journey, she explained, began a decade ago when her father guided her in selecting a course that would enable self-employment.

Initially, in 2013, she expressed her desire to pursue medical laboratory science. However, her father persuaded her to opt for an agricultural-related course.

“I attribute my success to my father, who resigned from his job as a mechanic, where he was earning a thousand a month, to venture into farming. He instilled in us a business-oriented mindset, insisting that I pursue a course that would lead to self-employment,” she said.

How she started

Karanja, the firstborn in a family of two, initiated her business in February 2018 with a Sh200,000 Sacco loan.

She noted that the funds were insufficient as she utilised them for rent and shelf fixtures, leaving no capital for stock. To cope, she collaborated with a distributor company, using profits to stock the shop.

Over time, through marketing efforts, farmers became aware of her establishment, and banks began to extend loans, fueling the business’s growth.

“I am a veterinarian by profession. I was employed in a distributor company from 2016 to 2018 when I decided to venture into business. Employment is not in my vocabulary now; I can manage my business and family without stress,” she added.

Karanja explained that her business has flourished, positioning itself among the top agrovets shops in Nakuru. She remains grateful for her achievements and maintains a humble disposition.

In her experience, distributors have cooperated, fostering growth and mentoring small businesses without fear of competition.

She recalled a challenging period when she went on maternity leave, resulting in a decline in business. However, with support from the bank and returning to the shop, the business regained momentum.

Since then, she learned the importance of being present for growth and customer trust in the business.

Challenges

Lack of capital was the primary challenge during the business’s inception. Additionally, competition from main distributors and balancing business responsibilities with family obligations posed significant hurdles.

Identifying counterfeit seedlings was another obstacle, but she overcame it by establishing accounts with manufacturers.

Expensive licenses and regulatory requirements also impeded business management.

Her turning point occurred during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, where she capitalized on online marketing to expand her customer base nationally.

Extension services have proved advantageous, providing customers with accurate product information and fostering trust.

Despite experiencing losses due to customers disappearing with products, Karanja remains resilient, learning from her interactions with farmers and emphasizing patience, risk-taking, and maintaining good customer relationships.

Her vision includes importing and registering a product under her name, expanding her workforce, and focusing on growing a single entity for long-term success.

Karanja’s journey exemplifies resilience, determination, and the transformative power of entrepreneurship.

From humble beginnings to establishing a thriving agrovets business, she has navigated challenges, seized opportunities, and remained committed to serving her community.

Through her story, we are reminded of the importance of perseverance, adaptability, and a strong work ethic in achieving success in business and beyond.

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