Meet Dr. Sharon Ohaka – dentist, Partners for Peace (P4P) organizer, and businessman with his firm Dawdrin Consulting. Dr. Ohaka partook in our four-day Business Linkages training at our Warri office and was so excited about what he learned that he went back home and set up a business clinic for micro-enterprises in Amaraku, a town in his native Imo State. These small businesses were mostly farmers from various cooperatives. Through this work, he is sensitizing farmers and small business owners on the range of services and support he could render to them through his consulting. The range of services include: linkages to market, linkages to finance, business assessment, business plan development and general business development services.
Present at this event were Dr. Ohaka and Mrs. Patience, a cassava processor who is looking to link up with farmers present. Here are some important messages they passed on during the Clinic. Here are 6 key messages they passed on to farmers that are good to keep in mind for anyone interested in getting into agriculture.
- Agric business is passion-oriented, and should be profit-oriented. Farming is big business, with various opportunities along the value chain in planting crops, processing, storage, and logistics.
- Like every business, agriculture requires study. Get to understand the most profitable parts of the value chain in your agricultural sub-sector and dedicate your time to putting structures in place to take advantage.
- Know your market. Selling to institutional buyers can provide the opportunity to sell more, but their processes and internal bureaucracy could also mean that you may have to wait a bit longer to get paid. Smaller buyers are usually able to pay now.
- Scaling up your business requires some trade-offs. Selling to bulk buyers at slightly lower costs may not be as satisfying as selling to smaller buyers at higher unit costs, but it means you are less likely to lose money from waste of items that you produce in large quantities. Accepting a slightly lower cost actually costs you less than charging higher and making less in sales.
- Keep records and break down the cost of production. In addition to helping you get a sense of the direction of your business and maybe even helping you forecast business projections, good records also help businesses of all kinds when applying for grants and loans. Good record-keepers can speak confidently about their businesses and inspire confidence, as well as investments. And while we’re on the subject of record-keeping…
- Quantify your labour input and record it as part of the cost of production. As your business grows, the mechanization and manpower your business will need will almost certainly change and your costs will reflect that.