By Wilson Munene Karimi, Project Coordinator
CoELIB is located at the Njoro Campus of Egerton University. The purpose of the Centre is to strengthen business in the livestock value chain and fostering innovations and agribusiness development.
As a multipurpose centre, it hosts the following branches:
The CoELIB Incubar
This is an agribusiness incubator in the livestock value chain with different subsidiaries for different livestock species and products. The Incubar facilitates the development of agribusiness enterprises in the livestock value chain and supports growing businesses in a conductive environment linking universities, research institutions and the private sector. In addition, it supports curriculum reform and improved delivery mechanism to enhance production of agribusiness entrepreneurs and innovators in the livestock value chain and beyond.
The businesses and companies that have been incubated include more than 30 initiatives such as Longburn Sustainable Solutions, JOCO Mushrooms, Plotus technologies, Agrisolve Data World, Tamu Nuts and Floral Aroma.
The Teaching and Learning Centre (TLC)
The overall purpose of the TLC is to enhance the quality of academic programmes offered by the Faculty of Agriculture at Egerton University. It wants to be a source of information on current teaching methods, strategies, and technologies, to provide programming to enhance the delivery of course content for effective classroom teaching performance and to champion fundamental changes in the teaching culture among the academic staff. This centre hosts the Studio for Professional Advancement.
The African Dairy Academy (Dairy Academy)
The Academy works towards strengthening education and research capacities in dairy sciences and supports and strengthens innovations and businesses within the dairy sector. The Academy supports the respective African governments to address knowledge gaps and build on existing capacity and learning. The Dairy Academy is useful because it will improve the capacity of Higher Education Institutions (HEI) to undertake multidisciplinary research on the dairy value chain and promote evidence-based policy development. The Dairy Academy hosts the African Dairy Sciences Network (DairyNet), which is currently under development.
Knowledge Centre for Agriculture (KCA)
This centre aims at providing agricultural information and advice to farmers, ranchers and the agriculture industry on topics ranging from crop and livestock production to new research and technology, government programmes and services, and farm business management.
CoELIB engaged in IFAD funded VijaBiz project
CoELIB’s KCA is engaged as a service provider in the implementation of the ‘Youth Economic Empowerment through Agribusiness in Kenya (VijaBiz)’. The project won a grant from the International Funds for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and is co-funded by CTA and USTADI. USTADI foundation and the Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation are jointly implementing a project on Youth in Agribusiness.
The overreaching goal of VijaBiz project is to create sustainable employment for the rural youth in the counties selected through active engagement in agribusiness for wealth creation and poverty reduction by building entrepreneurship capacity, creating market linkages and added value for 100-150 groups rural youth groups (2.380 beneficiaries, 30% females) in cereals, dairy and fisheries value chains. Through these groups, at least 1.000 individual small businesses will be supported. This will contribute to the agriculture sector goals of achieving food and nutrition security, income generation, employment and wealth creation, whilst improving rural livelihoods. In its implementation, it will address the following objectives:
- Build entrepreneurship capacity, create market linkages and added value for 100-150 rural youth groups in cereals, dairy and fisheries value chains
- Develop market linkages and support value addition for the targeted businesses
The CoELIB will support the project by offering mentorship support to 52 youth groups in Nakuru County (19 in Njoro, 21 in Rongai and 12 in Nakuru West Sub Counties).
To support the project’s strategic goals and ensure mission success into the future, CoELIB commits to develop a versatile follow up programme to meet the long-term needs of the project. This will serve as one of the centre’s pathways to develop relationships with the youth and youth groups to work with them even after the end of the project period. Bi-monthly group reviews followed by individual group mentorship will be done to support the businesses. CoELIB will engage in constant monitoring and evaluation of the programme to maximise the chances of success assuming that results are used to improve learning and service delivery.
An effective M&E tool will be developed to facilitate constant monitoring and learning. This will be based on the formulated specific objectives of the courses and the outputs. Each of the outputs includes indicators, which will be looked at based on the means of verification and the related assumptions.
The mentorship component is building up on the entrepreneurship training offered to the youth within this project. The focus themes that have been adapted to agribusiness frameworks include:
- Personal development
- Increased job satisfaction
- Leadership styles, coaching, listening and giving feedback
- Consumer psychographics and demographics
- Developing self-knowledge and self-awareness methods of consumer retention, product development, prudent financial management and internal governance structures
- Providing realistic overviews on the state of the mentees group and potential to grow
- Providing sound strategies on the growth path of the business including what can be achieved
- Raising the organisation’s visibility within parts of the organisation that they would not otherwise be aware of
- Understanding the need of the markets in the cereals, dairy and fisheries value chains
- National, regional and international market trends in the cereals, dairy and fisheries value chains
I joined the institution in the year 2010. At the time we had only two projects and we used to operate from two offices, the coordination office and the director office. Since then the centre has grown and we’ve managed to run more than 15 projects. As an individual I have learnt many things from the centre, and this has made me a better person. I have also gained a lot of knowledge on project management. My experience with the institution has been amazing. It has helped me grow professionally and as an individual when it comes to soft skills.
The CoELIB Strategic Plan is a guiding document that will help the centre realign and develop its operations with regard to development of the agribusiness sector in Kenya. The strategy identifies a select number of priorities that will be the focus of CoELIB’s work over the next five years, including building capabilities to deliver knowledge-based breeding and genomic support to livestock producers and other stakeholders, feed and quality improvement, and livestock disease management practices. These capabilities will be developed with a view to improving competitiveness across the livestock value chains, while at the same time exploring new business opportunities for entrepreneurs through market development and expansion.
The strategic plan was developed in collaboration with MSM, GrowthAfrica and Q-Point experts.
The businesses and companies that have been incubated include Longburn Sustainable Solutions, JOCO Mushrooms and Plotus technologies.
- LongBurn Sustainable Solutions
This is a company that produces long burning charcoal briquettes which offer clean energy options for households. It curbs the problem of indoor air pollution, deforestation and energy poverty in Kenya. It started with a business store in the Egerton area, right now it has expanded its stores to Nakuru town with a sale of a minimum of 20 bags per day.
- JOCO Mushrooms
JM is a business that deals with production and supply of mushrooms. It also offers training and consultancy services to farmers. In August 2018 JOCO managed to plant its first flash of button mushroom variety. In December 2018 the start-up entered the market with its MVP (Minimum Viable Product) to test the market with a new variety of mushrooms. As a result, JM decided to grow oyster mushrooms, found a new seed supplier and continued its production. Since the successful start with growing oyster mushrooms, JM has been having continuous cycles of planting and harvesting and invested in the renovation of their mushroom house for better production.
The company was founded in September 2018 with a vision to provide solutions in the agriculture and manufacturing sector. Plotus prides itself with two products developed in the past two years: Malkia Incu-brooder and JumboCut. Malkia Incu-brooder is a machine that serves as a solution for the poultry sector by providing a conducive environment for rearing chicks and hatching eggs. The machine can hatch eggs, rear chicks or do both. JumboCut CNC is a cutting robot designed to cut sheet metal using high velocity electrified air at 3.000 degrees centigrade. This machine can cut any shape at a very high velocity and at a very high accuracy of +/- 0.1 mm.