Making a World of Difference Half a World Away
A Supply Chain Process to Improve the Lives of the Impoverished
Eggs are one of those classic staples in the fridge. We don’t even think about them – just go to the fridge and grab some to make any number of tasty options. But half a world away, Matthew Dickson thinks about them – a lot. The difference they make to lives in Kenya comes down to survival. Dickson is the owner of Eggpreneur, a small business devoted to improving the survival rate of the people of Machakos County in Kenya. This is a very unique business model, and one that is well worth sharing. Here is his reason for starting the business.
“My name is Matt and I know what it is like to grow up in poverty.
Born and raised in a poor rural village in Mombasa, Kenya, I have seen the common struggle for the women in my community. The struggle to earn a steady income daily to comfortably take care of their family and nourish their children.
My mom too faced this common struggle. Faced with dire unemployment and threat of malnutrition, my mom made the difficult decision to put me and my siblings into an orphanage.
That is when I was 10 years old. And still, even today, more than 25 years later, this common struggle still exists. Finding a steady income is still extremely difficult for a Kenyan women in a poor rural village. Women struggle to devote time to properly nourish their babies because time is spent searching for extremely low-paying labour work, away from home. I wanted to change this.
The idea for Women Eggpreneur was hatched when I asked myself this question, “What would have helped my mom break free from this common struggle?”
WHAT’S THE PLAN?
His efforts are still underway on the social media site, Crowdfunding, where he outlines Eggpreneur’s basic plan. His ingenious solution is shown below.
You can see above how the concept is simple, yet the outcome has the capabilities for life changing results. His business plan has a 3 pronged approach:
1) develop income for women in rural Kenya where poverty is most critical
2) create food value to nourish children so they can grow and learn
3) instill and encourage knowledge around food and proper nutrition
Dickson has been planning this for some time. He recently obtained his MSc at McMaster University in Hamilton, during which time I had the opportunity to meet with him. He knew all along that he would return to Kenya and make it a better place to live. He said about the program at McMaster, “The program opened my mind to critical thinking, international development and strategic planning to tackle the most pressing global health issues.” It also caused him to consider more extensively child malnutrition, an enormous global issue that leads to poor health outcomes for countless people. “So many children are mentally and physically disabled due to poor diet in their earliest months of life. I wanted to do something about it.” he said.
Outlined below is the basic supply chain management process. Social media for supply chain is not currently in place, however it can be inserted in a number of ways, which has been detailed below. Dickson already has both a Facebook and Twitter feed to promote his business and his brand.
MAKE THE DIFFERENCE – MAKE YOUR OWN
Dickson is vested in making this project successful for the long term. To that end, he is ensuring that the quality of feed that he provides will generate the most nutritionally sound eggs possible. The breed is ISA Brown which arrived from a leading Kenyan suppler and is researched to thrive in the Kenyan weather. Chicken feed and chicken coops are provided as well, to ensure that the product is consistent. The end result is that the eggs that are produced are reputable for re-sale. Additionally, children will benefit tremendously with the added sustenance that eggs can supply. Eggs had up until recently received negative ratings as the culprit for high cholesterol, but that has been disproven.
SOURCE THE SUPPLIERS
This is one of the most unique parts to Eggpreneur. Dickson is training locally selected women, and ensure that they know exactly how to feed and care for the pullets and collect the eggs regularly. These registered individuals are his only suppliers. As part of the business plan, they will also be educated on the food value of the eggs, and how to supplement their children’s diet to maximize health and development. First year out he is working with 20 women, but he plans to expand as soon as is feasible. The community is very much involved, and is eagerly waiting for more members to be brought onboard. Currently the training is completed in face to face meetings.
Once the women are comfortable with this process, cell phones can be utilized to communicate pick up times and other daily details. There has been a significant change in cell phone access – not smart phones – but cell phones. In recent years, even the poorest people in Kenya have been able to obtain inexpensive cell phones. The key is that they are used for calls and texting with both those services being very reasonably priced. This has revolutionized how business is done and how business people communicate. The innovation has meant easier and less unnecessary travel, improvements to health care and a simple banking process called “M-Pesa”. But it’s given great impetus to the development of apps written to work on a simple phone, one of the most ingenious being ‘M-Farm’ which would be ideal for the Eggpreneur business. This app will allow market prices of produce to be sent and viewed by farmers so that they can co-ordinate the harvest and delivery of produce to market to specific buyers.
A descriptive, vibrant video illustrates Cell Phones are Changing How Business is Completed in Kenya. Dickson collaborates and takes this further this by saying, “….but we hope to develop an app to inform our farmers on prices, updates and communicate any new development in the market.
OFF TO MARKET
The eggs will be collected by Dickson from each farm and placed in a clean, ventilated truck which will deliver goods to Nairobi once a week. As Dickson says, “Every Eggpreneur will be registered prior to receiving any pullets, therefore we plan to collect the eggs from their farms twice every week, and record the number of eggs collected digitally and submit all information using mobile phone data transfer to our computer in the office. All the eggs collected will be taken to a central place for cleaning, grading and shipping to our customers.”
Customers are schools, five star hotels and restaurants. It is interesting to note that unlike the egg refrigeration standard process in North America, in Africa and many other continents, eggs are not washed prior to re-sale. If they are not washed, they do not require refrigeration. Room temperature and ventilation will suffice.
The condition of the roads may become an issue during the rainy season. As Dickson said, “Nature cannot be controlled and since we have poor road network and improvised communities, during rainy season we could face challenge to transporting eggs on time as well poor storage of eggs from our farmers.” The implementation of cells phones will enable the farmers to notify the pickup driver of road outages or other issues. Road conditions can vary widely, depending on the time of year. Globally there are issues that threaten a typical supply chain. Protocols in place which which would address these concerns as a proactive measure will better ensure continuous delivery of product.
Beginning in December the first young hens or pullets will be delivered to the Eggpreneur women. Since Dickson has raised these from his initial delivery of 2000 day old chicks, the empty nest syndrome takes on a whole new meaning.
The sound of baby chicks is loud and insistent, but speaks of the hopeful future of young Kenyans.
However, with the gathering and re-distribution of eggs, there will be no lack of work. Dickson may be considered an innovator, since this is a new concept in in Kenya. Unlike typical business plans, it is hoped that this template will be adopted and copied in other regions, to further benefit families. To continue the process, it’s important to consider the future of this business model. According to Profitguide, new technologies will have an impact on this supply chain, in particular inventory and network optimization tools and automatic identification. This may be some time in coming to Kenya, but it will impact them, given time.
GET CRACKING WITH SOCIAL MEDIA AND SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT
Several social media platforms would work in as vehicles for supply chain management. Keep in mind that the melding of social media with supply chain management has been a slow and painful process and is well detailed.
FACEBOOK – Pros: popular, most used and features a high level of engagement. It has a ‘Pages’ feature that can be used to break out ‘suppliers’ and ‘buyers’. Conversations can be easily tracked and referenced.
Cons: numerous reports indicate that its popularity is on the decline.
YAMMER – Pros: Eliminates the need for email, excellent for collaboration and well suited to small groups.
Cons: However, it has not been well rated as of late as it simply has not been well received in the business setting.
SOCIALCAST – Pros: Introductory version is free, and it will interact on a more extensive level with existing business systems.
Cons: Just because it’s free, doesn’t mean that it’s ideal.
For Eggpreneur, the most appropriate platform may be any one of the above, however, given the focus of the enterprise, it won’t be long before one is adopted and utilized in this innovative business.
Social media is not for the short term. Although the crowdfunding is the current social media platform for Eggpreneur, as the business grows, other media platforms will be necessary to encourage growth, particularly for the supply chain.
An agriculturally based business plan require many hands. That suggests that the social media platform be straightforward and easy to use, in order to be fully utilized.
It doesn’t have to be complicated. Think of the KISS principal. Just like eggs, simple can be the best tactic, even if it’s a custom tailored social media solution.
Submitted By: Dianne McBride, SMBP Student, University of Waterloo
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