From poultry farming, this entrepreneur now manufactures incubators

Elizabeth Nzivo with her husband, who is an electrical technician and the brains behind their incubators.

Photo credit: Sammy Waweru | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • In 2017, through the support of her husband, she pumped Sh200,000 into the venture and bought 200 chicks, confident that since she imparted the skills, the business would succeed. It did, at first try.
  • When most of her customers showed an interest in giving the business a shot, she decided to start egg hatching and brooding as well. 
  • Her husband, an electrical technician, pointed out that had the machine been locally assembled, finding the experts to fix it would have been easy, thereby saving them the massive lose.
  • Assembling one incubator takes an average of three days. This creativity has seen the couple move from electricity operated incubators with a generator backup to kero-solar panel incubators.

Poultry farming is among the many projects Ms Elizabeth Nzivo rolled out in the eastern region of the country while working for an NGO whose focus was uplifting the lives of the less fortunate. 

Having seen how the venture significantly uplifted the many households her employer supported, she decided to give it a shot, eager to reap the fruits she helped others grow.

In 2017, through the support of her husband, she pumped Sh200,000 into the venture and bought 200 chicks, confident that since she imparted the skills, the business would succeed. It did, at first try.

“My first batch, after subtracting expenses, made me Sh100,000 profit,” says Ms Nzivo, who holds a diploma in project management.

When most of her customers showed an interest in giving the business a shot, she decided to start egg hatching and brooding as well. 

“I ploughed back the profit into the project and bought two incubators, each with a 528-egg capacity at a cost of Sh60,000 per machine,” explains the 43-year-old.

With no room to work with, she placed the incubators in her living room, in her rented house, a factor that her neighbours were not happy about, complaining about the chirping from the chicks and generator noise when the electricity went off.

Locally assembled

Fortunately, her newest venture turned out to be very lucrative, so much so, she leased a space in Machakos town so that she could expand. Like many start ups, the challenges were many.

In 2017 for instance, one of the incubators broke down, but she was unable to reach the company that had sold it to her. This culminated with her losing eggs worth Sh47, 000, a big blow to her new business. That incident was an eye-opener. 

Her husband, an electrical technician, pointed out that had the machine been locally assembled, finding the experts to fix it would have been easy, thereby saving them the massive lose. And so they embarked on detailed research to find locally manufactured hatching machines.

In the process, they learnt that they could assemble their own machines with locally sourced materials.  The following year in 2018, the couple managed to make a pilot incubator with a holding capacity of 528 eggs at a cost of Sh50,000 compared to an import currently ranging between Sh80,000 - Sh90, 000.

Later, they manufactured one capable of holding 2,400 eggs at a cost of Sh115, 000 - the hatch rate of the two machines was 92 percent accurate.

“It was a great achievement for us, which has so far turned out to be our main source of income,” explains the entrepreneur. 

Hatching and brooding

Mutuku explains that the body work is fully made up of locally sourced materials, the only imported components being special automatic computer controllers which stabilise humidity and temperature, and fans.

Assembling one incubator takes an average of three days. This creativity has seen the couple move from electricity operated incubators with a generator backup to kero-solar panel incubators.

“The kerosene incubators are compatible with electricity and solar, with kerosene operating as backup in case of power outage,” Mr Mutuku explains.

Pepea Poultry incubators range between Sh70, 000 (440 eggs) to Sh135,000 (1,056 eggs), though the capacity can be bigger depending on the order.

The venture did so well, that towards the end of 2018, Ms Nzivo decided to resign from her NGO job where she was Program Manager, earning Sh60, 000 a month and concentrate on her business, which had far better returns. 

She has employed five full time workers, and occasionally hires four more on contract basis depending on the workload. Besides rearing chicken, hatching eggs and manufacturing incubators, the proprietor has started hatching and brooding indigenous and improved kienyeji chicks.

She also offers hatching services to poultry farmers besides training youths and women interested in venturing into the business.

sammywaweru87@gmail.com

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