When Andrew Makatiani, 38, started Lianfam Africa at Musonga village in Lurambi, Kakamega County, four years ago, he did not expect the business to grow as fast as it did.
The enterprise focuses on helping farmers to identify and evaluate their business requirements in the lucrative poultry farming business through the provision of sustainable, innovative and inclusive agricultural services.
Makatiani is also helping aspiring and experienced entrepreneurs build their business in a way that is intentional, manageable and profitable by sharing his ideas and knowledge about the poultry business, an initiative he is earning from.
“I am satisfied when people tell me that they are inspired to do their own poultry business because of my small influence, and every time I produce good quality products and contribute to food sustainability in our community and create jobs, I am happy,” he says.
Before he ventured into poultry farming, Makatiani, a business information system professional, was eking a living writing drama scripts for secondary schools. But he was not making enough money to support his family and there weren’t ready business opportunities in his field of study.
He decided to invest in poultry farming after earning Sh5,000 from a sale of 25 chicks.
“I realised that poultry farming can be profitable, and invested Sh150,000 into the business, buying an incubator and a small generator. That is how Lianfam Africa Ltd was established in October 2018.”
“When I was starting, I didn’t have enough knowledge or a strong background in raising chicken, but was ready to learn. The easiest part was selling the chicks since the demand was very high,” Makatiani explains, saying that he started off his business with 100 chicks which earned him Sh35,000.
“This venture has been a life-changing experience. I have so far signed contracts with Kakamega and Vihiga county governments and other partners worth more than Sh14 million. The biggest contract I have signed is Sh9million with the Kakamega County government,” says Makatiani of his business venture, which sits on one-eighth of an acre. The company has five employees and also engages boda boda riders and other transporters to distribute the chicks.
The business has also partnered with One Acre Fund, enabling it to sell chicks to their farmers in four counties, namely, Kakamega, Trans Nzoia, Bungoma and Vihiga.
“During my first year of business, I made a profit of Sh3.4 million, in 2020, the profit margin dropped to Sh2.8million due to Covid-19 pandemic, while last year our average profit bounced to Sh4million, which has enabled me import equipment worth Sh1.8 million to boost my business,” says the businessman.
He adds that the secret of his success is goodwill, determination, hard work and patience as well as networking with the right people and having a business plan. More than earning a good income, the business has enabled Makatiani to inspire others to go into the poultry business through his consultancy arm of the business.
“The best part about this enterprise is its high growth rate. It takes about 27 to 28 weeks when the birds are ready for the market. That means a poultry farmer starts earning his income in just 31 weeks after successfully starting his business,” he explains, pointing out that the price of a fully grown chicken is about Sh1,000.
But this business, like others, comes with its share of challenges, in this case mortality and diseases, though this can be reduced by taking proper care of them and vaccinating them. Others are delay of payment.
He is also intending to partner with the Micro Enterprise Support Programme Trust (MEST) in the North Rift Economic Block and Lake Region Economic block.
His success has seen the entrepreneur invited to speak in major international conferences such as the Africa Farm Management Association and public universities offering agriculture courses such as Egerton University and Technical and Vocational Education and Training institutions.
His wife, Lilian Muhabi, a co-founder of the company, helps him run the business.
Makatiani advises those who want to invest in the poultry business to choose a good location, type of poultry bird, build a good housing system and learn as much as they can regarding chicken rearing.
His future plans include setting up a certified integrated natural farm to train farmers and to process frozen chicken and organic manure from the farm using clean energy from biogas as well as producing his own feeds.