By Agropreneur Nigeria - Associate of The Unknown Nigeria
This is an Agropreneur Nigeria interview with Kolawole Omotola a young entrepreneur from Ekiti state who is also a Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP) Alumni.
Today he has a cassava processing facility where he packages “garri” for consumers within and outside his community. Omotola is one youth who have succeeded with support through business skills training, mentoring, access to seed capital funding and together with passion for entrepreneurship.
Here, he tells us his story, how he started and established his company “Oyinkola Enterprises” and how he overcame market acceptance of his product which was his major challenge. He discusses constraints to cassava business among others. Omotola ends with his future plans, recommendations for government and advice to upcoming youth intending to go into Agribusiness.
I am Kolawole Omotola, a native of Ekiti state, a graduate of Computer Science from Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye, Ogun State and the CEO of Oyinkola Enterprises.
I am a member of a big family with many siblings. I had no choice but to strive and cater for myself. This thought me to stay focused and be determined to never give up and be a great achiever.
Growing up was indeed by God’s grace. I have great passion for agricultural activities and I have a goal to produce food for my community.
I am into cassava crop processing, I am a garri maker! The major challenge that was faced while starting up was market acceptance. But with God it came as a success, our product was evenly embraced by all in the community
Agribusiness is my lifestyle; I personally made the choice of the business of agriculture. I am happy doing it because I am achieving my dreams. It gives me joy when customers give happy comments on the product, like your garri was wonderful; we so much enjoy taking it.
Oyinkola Enterprises have employees that help in the cassava crop processing. We have 4 permanent staffs and about 8 casual staffs with different roles. We have been able to create little jobs for the society as the women who come to peel our crops go home with little cash at the end of the day to help with their various family; we also train our workers to gain some skills, this we believe has its multiplier effect on our productivity as an enterprise.
The hardest part of the business is the peeling of crops before grating and what makes this difficult is lack of peeling machine. We believe, as soon as the enterprise is able to get this machine, our work will be easier and faster.
Another issue we are experiencing is on some of our causal staffs who have little or no formal education; we are faced with the problem of starting with them from the crash.
Government’s inconsistent policy is also a major constraint that needs a positive change and adjustment. This will encourage more youths to be involved in the business of agriculture.
Even though we still purchase cassava crops from farmers to process, we are planning on cultivating our own cassava and increasing the quantity of our processed product.
We intend to venture into the business of industrial starch and cassava flour soonest.
We are planning to have a branch in Ekiti state before the end of the year and hope to have branches of Oyinkola Enterprises in different states of Nigeria as time goes on.
Recommendation to the Government
Kindly empower more extension workers to assist farmers on their farm to get it right on modern farming techniques and methods.
Help Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) by easing the process of getting the NAFDAC number for their products.
Ensure adequate access to agricultural machinery, like the tractor, plough etc.
Advice for Upcoming Entrepreneurs and Youths
My advice is that you should be ready to face your life and prepare to start small because where you start from will not be where you will be in few months after starting. Start now and face the challenges ahead as life itself is a challenge. So this is a challenge worth facing to better your life, family and community. You will be proud you did!
Many youths always complain of fund as the major problem of not starting their dream business. But I will say it is not the first thing to consider if one wants to start. Firstly, seek for more knowledge on that particular business and before you are done with that, there will be provision of finance.