IN March 2017, a group of 12 young people aged between 20 and 35 came together under a a shared vision:’Provide a collaborative platform, pull resources together to raise our economic status’
And with that resolution, the Greenbelt Youth Group was born, in Dundori division, Bahati sub county in Nakuru and so was their business of milk bulking and processing.
Greenbelt’s goal is to be a leading company in the processing and supply of milk and other dairy products by the year 2022.
When Vijabiz came into the picture, it was a new dawn for the group’s business. They embraced the concept of value addition and diversification, learnt ICT skills and improved marketing abilities.
A learning tour courtesy of Vijabiz, to a dairy facility on producing Yoghurt and fermented milk boosted and advanced the Greenbelt Youth Group whose diary production capacity has since seem major growth with added advantages.
After a successful ICT training, the group’s capacity grew from handling 150 to well over 500 litres of milk per day. Furthermore, the group was able to employ all its 12 members.
The group’s operations has also expanded its market far beyond its initial area of operation and entrepreneurship, thanks to a more solid relationship based on trust, with its consumers.
The project has generated employment opportunities and has increased the group’s return on sales by well over 60 percent.
The training on entrepreneurship was an eye-opener for the group, as it showed us how to identify our specific market segment, and how to carry out market research on current trends.
This has resulted in renewed energy and a change of attitude among the members to work together.
To the group, consumers’ trust was the hardest nut to crack, requiring high quality products, excellent customer relations, profiled marketing, good branding, a packaging strategy, and proper business management.
All the above was easily achieved as members were equipped with the necessary skills from the trainings organised by USTADI, CTA and IFAD.
Initially, when Greenbelt Youth Group started processing milk products, people criticised their products. They believed the quality was compromised, competition was tough, there was inconsistency in production and poor packaging methods were used.
Through Vijabiz, the group benefitted from capacity building workshops, trade shows, mentorship, learning journeys and training, enabling them to overcome many of their challenges.
“We have a strong market presence in Dundori, dispensing milk from five of our distribution points with one also serving as a collection point. Chilled raw milk is also supplied to retailers in the locality. We have plans to widen our supply and market catchment area to the greater Nakuru county and eventually nationwide. The group is currently handling 400-500 litres of milk per day and has the potential to grow this volume to 10,000 litres a day,”-Greenbelt Group.
Even though a lack of equipment and resources to store more product is constraining growth, the group says it is working to overcome some of the challenges after which only the sky will be the limit.
After training in Kajiado at Olosian Dairy Farm in May 2019, the group gained vast knowledge in yoghurt making and fermented milk production, which led to the diversification of their products.
“Our business started in 2017, selling 150 litres of chilled raw milk per day and employed four youths: a woman who operated a milk kiosk and three men who collected the milk from farmers using motorbikes. With our improved business practices and diversification, the business now sells 450 litres of chilled milk, 50 litres of flavoured yoghurt and 75 litres of fermented milk per day,
we also now employ all 12 members: five men collect milk and seven women process, package, brand, market and sell the products. Due to increased growth and production, we have also expanded by establishing two additional selling points,
as a result of increased profits, the 12 members are paid KSh 500 (€4.50), while the rest is saved in our KCB bank account,
with the support of training from the Vijabiz project, we now sell chilled raw milk, pasteurised milk, yoghurt and fermented milk,”-Greenbelt Group, Nakuru County.
ICT training boosted Greenbelt’s marketing skills through Facebook and Whats App…
‘Most youths are tech-savvy so online marketing has worked very well for us. During an ICT training organised in Nakuru, our group gained exposure to and knowledge on online marketing platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp,
we were taught to create our own Facebook page and WhatsApp group through which we can promote our products, helping to market our products far beyond our area of operation’
Even though the online marketing strategy has limits as it also dependents on the consistency of internet services and the availability of devices to access the online platforms in our communities, Greenbelt group has become more creative in their branding, pricing and marketing strategies on Facebook and Whats App.
Facebook and Whats App allows them to receive direct feedback from customers on issues like quality and prices, feedback they consequently analyse and use to improve their offers.
They take quality photos of their branded products and write proper descriptions about each one of them. These photos are posted, in addition to location, prices, special offers, and after-sales services, also for the sake of feedback.
As one consumer states, “I saw you supply milk, which is when I thought of investing in a milk business with you as my supplier.”
What’s more?, thanks to the successes and professional growth achieved as a group and as individuals from Vijabiz, the Greenbelt youth group believes in giving back and so, welcomes the opportunity to become trainers in the field, to share their experiences and encourage other youths to engage in agribusiness!