“Be good to your staff, provide good benefits and amenities. Additionally, take your sales and marketing seriously”
Charity acquired agricultural and business skills early in life. Although it was under challenging circumstances, she is enjoying the fruits now as a successful farmer. “Before entering my teens, I was performing chores, including weeding as well as selling after school and at weekends to earn money for my upkeep. This practice taught me how to save and budget and to date, I rarely spend without the discipline of planning ahead.” With this sound skill, she was able to pay off a loan using her savings even though the loan company threatened to not lend her money in future if she settled the outstanding amount in order to stop paying the high interest.
She has over 180 acres of land and the business comprises poultry, piggery, coconut processing and maize. Her ability to have grown the business to the stage it is at may come as a surprise because she is a teacher and has stayed in the profession, farming on a part time basis during term time and able to concentrate on it more during the holidays. As impressive as that is, not everyone saw it in the same light.
“I endured ridicule from colleagues who teased and questioned why a school teacher should be going to the farm which in their mind, was demeaning and should possibly be reserved for those who could not find employment or were uneducated.” Interestingly, the tables have turned by her proving herself. The same people who would ask “why would an educated woman wish to go into dirty work like farming” now heap praises and offer to defend her success because they saw her from the beginning and have been witness to her journey. She believes that many of them look back and wish they had also gotten into agribusiness.
“I started the poultry farm in 1998 with 25 birds, now have 25,000 and want to increase to 60,000 birds in the next 5 years, in addition to putting up a processing centre for maize and associated by-products.”
Keys and barriers to success
Her recommended antidote for fear of failure is interesting; “If I try something out and it doesn’t work out the way I expected or I am unsuccessful, I will do it again. After trying different ways of doing things, I can get useful feedback through observing what worked and what didn’t work.” Her confidence boost and inspiration is borne out of “successes at harvest, being economically sound, supporting the family and the wider community - paying salaries and providing accommodation for staff and having the means to provide labour for casual workers”.
Essential skills for female entrepreneurs
Charity echoes the words of successful business owners from many sectors who advise that entrepreneurs need to “be focused, committed, and work hard – keep going and never give up!”
Finally she reminds us of the positives as far as being a female Agribusiness entrepreneur: “pay no mind to your fears and see yourself as having this advantage as a woman; the ability to be better managers in certain areas, including having financial discipline. Achieving success through hard work and honesty will cause people to trust you.”