“When Peter Kibue left Egerton University in 2009, he became a farmer. He was laughed at for settling for a ‘peasants job’. Now he is having the last laugh”. When I came across this interview, I just thought to myself and said, come’on guys this Peter guy must have failed in his class work and only got lucky with the rabbit thing. I was later to learn that this was a real true story and that the guy had the best grade you could have from the premier Agricultural college.
Life out in the real world with no HELB is not as fun even if you came out the best the college has ever had. As Peter says, though he was studying hard and attending all his Agricultural economics classes, he knew what he really wanted. He knew that it was not a degree from any college. He only needed knowledge on how to grow his idea, how to make it better and how to make it big. That is the only reason he loved practicals more than class work.
After graduating with a degree in agricultural economics, Peter Kibue did not want to get employed. Instead, his vision was to start a value addition rabbit farm. Consequently, he returned to his family home in Nakuru and began with one pregnant doe. In the mean time ,his former classmates and friends were busy going round Nairobi knocking in each and every banks door. Some actually got well-paying jobs but most could not keep up with the pace of job search and dumped themselves into the casuals industry. They could do anything for anybody for 8 hours, get paid then disappear into the slums in Nairobi. That became their normal life and even their degree papers could only be used as bedding for their already growing families.
Kibue found it hard to make it with te single rabbit and therefore decided to go the employment way. He got a job as a sales man at the Kenya Orchids in 2010, and it did not take him long before he was promoted to marketing manager, but he wanted to do agribusiness on his own. He later moved to Old Mutual in 2011 and worked on commission based payments. After a few months he quit with only Sh3,600 as savings and registered his company Kaka Sungura Ltd. “I then approached Hortipro Ltd, which deals with green houses and drip irrigation and asked to sell their products at a commission,” he says.
After six months, in February 2012, he started a small farm in Kiambu on rented land only to come back and find that he had actually been coned. Were it not for a neighbor who had seen his plight and allowed him to use her land for farming for free and share the profit then probably he would have surrendered. “No one asked me about my papers or my grade or why I had failed in a specific unit, it was all about what i was willing to do and how it related with what i wanted to do for the company”he says with a smile.
He started growing vegetables from spinach, broccoli, lettuce, to Chinese Cabbage and would sell them at upper Ngara, City Park, Village market and ABC place. He did not have a car so he would carry around a sack filled with vegetables in his back. In the beginning,he felt embarrassed bumping into former university mates with latest clothing designs, but he got over it. He was later to learn that among the friends he used to meet, not even one had managed to secure a job and they only chose to be smartly dressed in case anything happens.
September of 2012, he entered into a partnership deal with a friend. “We bought a green house in October of 2012 and we started selling tomatoes, but along the way I got distracted and got involved in more than I could handle”,he says. He was then approached by a group of friends who were wanted to invest in export farming. Together they raised over Sh4 million. They got a 15-acre land in Kilima Mbogo Ngoliba area and began French beans farming for export by December of 2012. However, things did not last.
By 2013 December the business had crumbled and by the end of the year, he was in so much debt, he could not pay his bills. To make ends meet, he started selling TV decoders, but this could not help.
His breakthrough came when he got a call from Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko who wanted a green house. “He may not know this but he gave me a life line,” says the 30-year-old farmer. “It has only been a few months, but I now have 11 employees among them my coursemates and friends who used to laugh at me back in the days.We offer a range of services and charge between Sh2,500-Sh5,000 for visits which sum up to 20 visits in a month.
I still sell green houses and drip irrigation equipment in collaboration with Hortipro Ltd and in a month we sell about 100 units. I also grow tomatoes. Per week, I sell about 250kgs of tomatoes from my green house at about Sh50 per Kg. I sell about 100-150kg of broccoli a week at Sh70 per kg,” he says.
“To university fresh graduates out-there, its not all about your grades or what you did, find out what you can do before you start looking for a job. First class or whatever grade will and shall not put food on the table in your house because in this real world its all about FOOD ON THE TABLE and NOTHING ELSE”, Peter penned off in style.