New Frontier of Agribusiness: Digital Marketing Training for Rural Entrepreneurs
In a country where there are more mobile phones than people, there is great potential for Kenyan entrepreneurs to market their businesses by implementing digital marketing strategies. In the last few years, smartphones have become affordable to majority of Kenyans– including those living in rural areas. According to a report published by the Communication Authority of Kenya in September 2021, over 59 million mobile phones were connected to a mobile network, representing a huge growth in adoption of smartphones making it one of the key channels to communicate, connect and engage.
With the modern consumer going digital, implementing digital marketing strategies is becoming increasingly vital in order to expand clientele networks for small businesses. It provides a flexible platform where entrepreneurs can effectively target, interact, and connect with customers both within and outside their communities at the click of a button. It is also easier for entrepreneurs to track and monitor campaigns on a real time basis at very affordable rates.
Going digital to reach new customers
As part of Bountifield’s three-pillar approach, we implement programs to uplift micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs). We provide both technical and business training for entrepreneurs and MSMEs to establish fee-for-service businesses for small-scale postharvest processing, bridging the technology gap for smallholder farmers. As part of our business training, we have launched additional marketing support to entrepreneurs in Kenya to extend the reach of their enterprises to more farmers.
The training includes group and one-on-one mentoring of our entrepreneurs on digital and social media marketing including branding support, setting up Facebook business pages, creating WhatsApp groups, and sending bulk text messages to expand awareness of their postharvest services and to attract more customers. Additional mentorship includes guidance on how to develop digital content that appeals to potential clients to ensure they reach large numbers of farmers within their locality.
The participating entrepreneurs have not only expanded awareness of their postharvest processing services they developed with Bountifield, but they also have been able to maximize the opportunity to promote other aspects of their agribusinesses. They have increased sales of products such as animal feed, crop protection products, seeds and other inputs. Even selling animals and equipment.
“The program has helped expand their businesses reaching over 630,000 potential customers within their communities and generating over 74,000 engagements,” Nickson Muturi, Bountifield’s Digital Marketing Specialist in Kenya explains. “The majority of these entrepreneurs have not only been able to expand their threshing and shelling businesses, but they have also expanded all their businesses as a whole. Some have been able to sell over five cows, motorbikes, avocado seedlings, introduced new products via their platforms and some have linked up with financial institutions.”
Marketing an essential part of business skills-building
As we have worked closely with rural entrepreneurs since the launch of the Mavuno Bora pilot in 2020, we have seen how necessary it is to include marketing skills-building opportunities in our other business training programs. In order for their fee-for-services businesses to be successful, they must be able to have the tools to find and reach the customers who will benefit from the mechanization of threshing and shelling technologies. So far, we have seen entrepreneurs take to these digital marketing tools and find ways to incorporate all of their business activities and streamline into overarching agricultural support businesses within their communities.
“Bountifield entrepreneurs have proved to be very dynamic, smart and eager to practically implement what they learn,” said Nickson. For me the best experience is witnessing the excitement that comes with the entrepreneurs’ ability to achieve various digital marketing milestones such as ability to schedule, run, track and monitor campaigns on their own.”
As we continue to expand our activities in Kenya, we will continue to expand digital marketing training to more entrepreneurs within our program. The more these entrepreneurs can grow their own networks and expand their clientele, the more smallholder farmers can benefit from the reduced time and labor that postharvest processing equipment can provide. This will overall improve the quality of locally grown crops and make more food available for markets.