Part Two of Marko's Story
Yesterday, we learned about the start of Marko’s entrepreneurial journey. Flame Tree Initiative met Marko Chiumia in 2017 when he participated in our Development Entrepreneurship Lab (DELab) shortly after he launched his first social enterprise, K-Farm Centre. K-Farm Centre provided smallholder farmers with affordable fertilizer, training, facilitated agro-market access, and various livestock.
This week, Marko is teaming up with Flame Tree Initiative to share his story in celebration of the upcoming World Entrepreneur’s Day which takes place on Wednesday, August 21.
When Marko launched K-Farm Centre, he soon encountered challenges that many other social entrepreneurs are all too familiar with. While there was enough customer demand, he lacked sufficient capital to meet the production demand. He also realized that he lacked the operational and management skills necessary to lead a social enterprise. With a better understanding of what he needs to do to improve his business, Marko participated in Flame Tree Initiative’s Development Entrepreneurship Lab. There, he learned how to create a mission and vision statement and how to use these as guiding tools for future growth; a business plan to organize K-Farm Centre’s daily operations, and a social impact matrix to ensure that his business delivers the solutions that his community needs. Marko didn’t stop there. He also participated in other entrepreneurship training programs to maximize his educational gains and applied for grants to fund his business. His hard work paid off. “We raised finance through participation in a grant competition, receiving $5,000 from Tony Elumelu Foundation. I say thank you Tony Elumelu Foundation,” says Marko.
One year after launching K-Farm Centre, Marko had three other staff members helping him with administration and operations. He proudly shares, “Through the grant we received, we were able to construct a small office unit and buy basic office furniture. There was also a rise in demand for our organic fertilizer.” Moreover, K-Farm Centre began generating social impacts. “We created market access for organic waste collection for over 67 local smallholder farmers and households. On average, these farmers earned $13.80 of extra income as we were buying farm wastes from them,” Marko explains. This is significant for smallholder farmers considering that the gross national income per capita in Malawi is only $360. K-Farm Centre turned organic farm wastes into fertilizer which they sold back to the farmers at an affordable price, thereby creating a small circular economy. “Farmers who applied our organic fertilizer in their fields reported better crop harvest. They also reported that they spent about 35 percent less on fertilizer.”
Reaching Another Level
In the first two years of his business, Marko gained a deeper understanding of how social entrepreneurship can impact his community. Through K-Farm Centre, farmers were able to harvest more while spending less on fertilizer, which allowed them to have greater means to provide for their families.
Empowered by what he has learned, Marko now plans to expand his operations and rebrand his business to generate even greater social and environmental impacts.
Stay tuned tomorrow for the next part of Marko’s entrepreneurial journey.
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