WHAT DO YOU THINK OF WHEN YOU HEAR OF POTATOES?
Maybe Fries, Bhajia, the Mwitu in the hood or the famous mashakura. But to one Rono, potatoes are his gold mine.
Rono is an Irish potato farmer from Baringo County and the winner of Blaze BYOB season 2. Though “The latest millionaire in town” sounds like the best fit.
The 25-year-old is an Actuarial Science graduate and I must say apart from being educated he has very good leadership skills. He did his KCPE in 2007 from Seguton Primary and later joined Baringo High School where he managed to attain a mean grade of A hence qualifying for Bachelors in Actuarial Science in the University of Eldoret. There, he was elected as the president of the University of Eldoret Students Council in 2014/2015 Academic year. Thereafter, he ran for the Member of County Assembly post in Lembus Baringo County through JAP party ticket. Unfortunately, he lost in the nominations but became a strategist for the current Baringo Governor.
Like any other youth trying to sustain himself and joining the” hustle movement”, Rono was a job seeker and at the same time a farmer before he got referred to Blaze BYOB by a friend who had heard of his idea and known what he used to do. Knowing that potatoes do well where he comes from, he opted to seek funding to scale up production and invest in irrigation in order to facilitate production during the dry season.
What about blaze?
The show was of great impact to him as the summits prepared him to pitch in the grand finale, creation camp training helped him acquire business related skills. There, he got the chance to interact with people with different capabilities, strict judges and also supportive members. This also helped him learn to stay close to people you’ve not been used to. To him, winning was a surprise although he was prepared for any outcome considering he had given it his all.
In short, the show was overwhelming! He says,” You can never know the sweetness of honey until you taste it.”
How did he start?
He got introduced to the business by his mum who supported their family from the proceeds of farming. This was in 2015 while he was still in campus. He started with an acre then later advanced to 3 acres. He says, “Potato farming is a very lucrative business when done in a smart way. However, it is very risky as the loses can be detrimental”
For a successful business, one has to invest a lot of time in it notwithstanding the market trends and political situation. It being a product that cuts across ethnic profiles in our country, it is greatly affected by political instability. Similarly to other businesses, meeting the demand is a great challenge. Opportunities get to knock during the dry season when the price rises. The demand is hardly met as it is a high altitude crop and requires a lot of rainfall. The good thing is that it’s highly profitable when done on large-scale. Surprisingly, there are also cartels (potato traffickers) in the business hence exploitation by middlemen is on the top-notch. They control market prices by creating barriers between farmers and the consumers. Poor roads are the major problem as transport cost is shifted to farmers and even becomes worse during the rainy season. Quite tough, right?
Despite all that, what has kept him going is internal toughness and failure to listen to descending voices.
Are you a job seeker or a Job creator?
The problem is that most of us have a job seeking culture. The system of education is training us to be job seekers and not job creators therefore increasing the dependency of employment. Most of the youth actually see farming as a field for the illiterate not realizing that the first world countries have gone farming and being in agribusiness doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a farmer.
Despite Rono being an Actuarial Science graduate, he believes that white-collar jobs are only good for your pension plan and any other retirement plan. Because there, you become a resource for production to a company whose huge profits are shared by the shareholders. Your time and reasoning is limited to a service hence exploiting your limits is very hard. Nevertheless, in case of employment one should always have a side hustle. So, shout out to all entrepreneurs out there.
Any millionaire fever yet?
After the win, he says he’s still planning and hopes to have made the first goal by the end of the month. But life’s a bit boring since everyone is now asking for money and thinks you should spend it on them. I bet this is what comes with being a young millionaire***
Besides setting an example of a successful farmer, he’s looking forward to support willing and hardworking entrepreneurs and connect other farmers to a reliable market. He seeks the youth to venture into the forgotten business that makes sense.
His advice to the entrepreneurs; “As long as you’re dealing with a need in a population, you will always be needed.”
Do the small things that people neglect but make them great!
To connect with RONO…
#RONO THE GREAT.
#MAKING POTATOES GREAT AGAIN.