Patricia Jepkorir Lagat is the Founder and Managing Director at Horti Grid Limited, a horticultural firm that provides a blended package of agribusiness and agronomic solutions ranging from enterprise planning, production, and market access.
Ms. Lagat shares some lessons she has picked up in her agri-entrepreneurial journey.
I started my journey as an agri-entrepreneur by managing my parents’ farm. This included showcasing the best practices in horticultural farming. It did not take long before demand for these services skyrocketed. I registered my business and enlisted partners to venture out with. We started setting up greenhouses for tomatoes and later branched to other crops. My role today involves business development, financial management, supervisory, and execution.
I have gotten to where I am today by clearly defining each of my goals. I follow this up by investing time, energy, and resources. If you don’t capture your vision clearly, chances are that you will drop it along the way, especially if the going gets tough. Take on something that makes you want to wake up every day no matter how mundane everyone else thinks it is.
I once spent money that I didn’t have on things I couldn’t afford. At the time, I was low on cash, but I was expecting an initial project cash deposit that would come in within a week. On impulse, I decided to join friends for a trip. Since I didn’t have cash, I borrowed money to fund my expenditure. My thinking was that I’d refund the money once the deposit came in the following week. Unfortunately, the project was delayed indefinitely. I was left in debt and I lost the trust of the lender who had extended the loan.
The toughest experiences could be the most important lessons you get. Sometime back, I delegated my role to a third party then failed to follow up with concise instructions. The opposite of what was supposed to be done was done. My failure to oversee the project cost me a substantial amount of money. My reputation was left in ruins. It took me more than two years to recover my confidence. I had to rebrand and reboot. It was a very painful lesson. I have learned to assess keenly the team I am about to work with, stop trusting people on the first impression, and be clear on targets and expectations.
A fixed bank account was my preferred mode of saving when I started my saving journey. Today, I no longer save this way. I use the Sacco and Chama table banking instead. Unlike the fixed account, both of these methods allow me to access cash and loans whenever the need arises.
Being an entrepreneur in the world of agribusiness, I am a big advocate for entrepreneurship. It is the best way to create long-lasting wealth. Entrepreneurship allows flexibility and creativity. There are certain limits that employment won’t push you to and certain freedoms you will never get from working for someone. However, the world of business is not for the faint at heart. Income is not a guarantee. People make the mistake of suddenly shifting from employment to business. The shift should be gradual and driven by learning, experience, and capacity.
Money talks; it says goodbye. This is a lesson that I have learned from my father. He insists that I need to set aside an amount to secure the future in the form of investment that is not necessarily related to the business. Tracking spending is mandatory when it comes to planning, controlling, and utilising finances.