This spring, we added a new activity to our Kenya program with the 2023 Postharvest Entrepreneurs Competition. All entrepreneurs who have gone through Bountifield business training bootcamps were eligible to participate in this contest during the January – April harvest season. As part of our business support services, we work with entrepreneurs on business best practices that include consistent record keeping, digital marketing and promotion, and customer relations. To encourage our entrepreneurs to further integrate these learnings within their postharvest processing businesses, we decided to launch this friendly competition as an added incentive.
The Importance of Prioritizing MSMEs
Supporting micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) is a top priority for us as we work to promote inclusive growth within the communities that we serve. As quoted by the United Nations, MSMEs create 7 out of 10 formal jobs in emerging markets and make up 90% of businesses worldwide. Yet access to financing and support for business growth is difficult to reach, especially for women and youth entrepreneurs. The World Bank estimates that 600 million jobs will be needed by 2030 for a growing workforce and, because of this, countries are seeing MSMEs as a key priority for filling that need.
In addition to providing technical support for micro-entrepreneurs, including women and youth, we spend a great deal of time helping them navigate operating a business for growth and success. Skills building and networking are essential to helping our entrepreneurs to be successful in their businesses and, as a result, serve more farmers .
2023 Postharvest Entrepreneurs Competition
The 2023 Postharvest Entrepreneurs Competition is the first of its kind. All entrepreneurs who have gone through Bountifield’s program in Eastern and Western Kenya were eligible for prizes, divided into three categories: “Due Diligence,” “Creative Marketing,” and “Market Penetration.” The competition timeframe took place between January and April harvest season this year. On June 21, we held a virtual ceremony to announce the winners to all participants with the award recipients having the opportunity to say a few words.
“It was really amazing to be able to see our entrepreneurs connect virtually from across regions and including some very remote areas,” said John Muhia, Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist for Bountifield. “It was very inspiring to see people across different generations come together in this way, when not long ago many of them likely wouldn’t have had the technical access to do so.”
After sharing some updates from Bountifield, our Kenya team announced each of the winners to the group.
Due Diligence Award
Regina Nzyoki, from Eastern Kenya, received the “Due Diligence Award” for the highest reporting performance in terms of consistency, completeness, and accuracy. This category encourages our entrepreneurs to use both digital and physical record keeping tools to track the services they provide to their customers. Regina says that keeping consistent records has helped her in developing her postharvest business. The growing business overall has enabled her to better support her family and she plans to increase her activity in the coming seasons.
Creative Marketing Award
Marlone Awilie from Western Kenya received the “Creative Marketing Award” for the best digital marketing advertisement. Marlone has greatly expanded his use of digital marketing tools to promote his multi-crop threshing services to grow his customer base. His Facebook page now has 470 subscribers and ads have allowed him to reach a potential customer base of 45,000. This past season he recorded more sales in both seeds and inputs as compared to previous seasons. Marlone shared with the group that he has pivoted approximately 90% of his marketing to online and is now promoting his business through Facebook, WhatsApp and SMS messaging.
Market Penetration Award
Mukothima Boda Boda Travellers Youth Group from Eastern Kenya received the “Marketing Penetration” for the highest number of customers/smallholder farmers served. This season they threshed over 174,000 kgs of sorghum. They shared that they have been working long hours through the season as they can see the value that they bring to farmers in their community providing postharvest processing services. They plan to buy additional equipment so they can increase the services they provide even further.
Bountifield Entrepreneurs Contribute to Growth within Communities
Every year the United Nations observes June 27th as Micro-, Small-, and Medium-Sized Enterprises Day in recognition of the role MSMEs play in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. At our virtual awards ceremony, we took a moment to share with all of our entrepreneurs some preliminary data analysis of the combined efforts of the group over the course of multiple seasons. Our entrepreneurs expressed appreciation for being able to see how their efforts are contributing to larger food security efforts across Kenya.
Bountifield’s micro-entrepreneurs are showing the value they bring to their local communities to strengthen food security and inclusive growth, directly contributing to several of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including Goal 2 Zero Hunger, Goal 5 Gender Equality, and Goal 8 Decent Work and Economic Growth. As our MSMEs continue to grow their business, more farmers are benefiting from access to postharvest processing support that saves time, labor, and expenses while mitigating food loss, improving crop quality, and increasing market value.
Help us support more micro-entrepreneurs like Regina, Marlone and the Mukothima Boda Boda Travellers Youth Group with access to technical and business training to expand their enterprises.