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Financing Youth Agriprenuers

Caroline Mwangi’s path to entrepreneurship is a testament to determination and hard work. Her journey was far from conventional; she didn’t quit her job to start a business as many might expect. Instead, she embarked on her entrepreneurial venture as a hobby while maintaining her role as the Chief Administrator at a Japanese construction company in Nairobi. Caroline’s journey began with passion fruit farming at her family home in Ruiru. She would harvest the fruits, extract their juice, and sell the concentrate. Despite initial doubts about her urban farming project, Caroline’s business gained significant attention when she shared it on social media. As companies started showing interest in her passion fruits, she realized the need to scale up her operations. This led her to establish Kimplanter Seedlings and Nurseries, a company dedicated to commercial seedling propagation. Initially, she managed this new venture alongside her job and faced a steep learning curve in the early stages. Her first attempt at spinach seedlings failed, but she persevered, conducting research and gaining valuable insights to ultimately succeed. By 2017, her business had grown substantially with external financial support from the Kenya Climate Innovation Centre. This support allowed her to transition from wooden greenhouses to metallic ones and acquire a seedling planting machine. Caroline’s approach was to let her business evolve organically, adapting to market demand rather than imposing a rigid strategy. She stressed the importance of thorough market research and industry understanding. Under her leadership, Kimplanter expanded from selling 360 seedlings to an impressive 1.2 million seedlings each month. Despite facing challenges like cultural biases and market competition, Caroline remains unwavering in her mission. She also underscores the significance of partnerships and engagement in the agriculture sector, emphasizing the unique nature of agriculture financing and the importance of financing institutions comprehending the industry’s dynamics. Looking forward, Kimplanter is exploring opportunities in markets beyond Kenya and diversifying into capsicum production. Caroline welcomes collaborations that offer more than just financial backing. She applauds the Corporation for its support and flexible financial services, setting it apart from the traditional banks. Her experience with AFC has been positive, and she appreciates the Corporation’s understanding and support for players in the industry. Caroline Mwangi’s entrepreneurial journey is characterized by unwavering perseverance, adaptability, and a commitment to organic growth driven by market demand. She is open to partnerships and values collaborators who contribute more than just financial assistance to the growth of her business.The Company started with four (4) varieties of herbs and currently produces eleven varieties of herbs namely: Basil, Rosemary, Oregano, Mint, Tarragoi, Sage, Chervil, Dill, Lemon, thyme, Parsley and Chives for export with Basil taking 60% because of its high turnover. The herbs are grown in both outdoor and under 22 green houses.

ECONOMIC IMPACT:

• Employment creation: Created employment to 55 locals both directly and indirectly hence improved livelihood

• Water supply: Supplies water to the local community during dry seasons since he has a borehole

• Infrastructure improvement: Has improved access road leading to the farm and this has equally benefited the community.

• Electricity: Has implemented supply of electricity in the area benefiting local communities

• Football Sponsorship: They sponsor the youth from the local community through a football team which they have kitted and pay the coach as well

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