Eugene Mukeshimana is a young entrepreneur who started a company called “CCE Farms”, CCE being a combination of the initials of the three co-founders. CCE Farms is a company that focuses on growing horticultural products and mainly grows chilies for the export market.
After graduating from the university with an IT degree, Eugene was working a part time job that gave him enough time to brainstorm potential business ideas. One of the ideas he came up with was digital marketing business. He started a digital marketing company, but after a while the business failed due to the fact that the market was not ready for those services. Later, he came up with another idea of supplying horticultural products to hotels and restaurants. He convinced two of his college friends to forge a team and start a company that they later named CCE Farms.
Eugene thinks it is very important to tackle challenges from different perspectives which is why he brought in two partners to help him start his business. Additionally, he thinks that working with partners is beneficial because the sense of ownership means his partners will invest enough time and resources to help the business grow. Working with a team also reduces the work load and improves efficiency.
However, starting a farm without any agricultural background was a huge challenge for Eugene and his partners because they didn’t know how to deal with some technical issues like crop diseases. As time progressed, they realized that to overcome these challenges they had to bring in agronomists who could help them with agronomical practices and daily crop management decisions.
Eugene thinks that startups are very challenging, especially in the first year, but as time passes you learn from the experience. Furthermore, he thinks that the reason why some people end up giving up so early is because they don’t understand the concept of a startup.
“People need to understand that startup is a process of finding a feasible and scalable business model and once you understand that, you start to embrace pivoting or sometimes completely changing the business model,” said Eugene. For Eugene, it was the passion he had since when he was young to be a businessman that kept driving him and the determination to make his dreams become a reality. Next, Eugene hopes to install solar irrigation system by the next year and to start making his own compost. CCE also wants to scale up by planting more crops including French beans and passion fruit and to increase their total production on more land.
For those who want to start their own business, Eugene says, “they have to be ready because entrepreneurship sounds cool, but there are many sacrifices that goes into starting a business and many lessons you need to learn.” Additionally, he would advise youth to not look at the success in the short-term rather think of success in the long-term, perhaps 10-15 years ahead. He sees Rwandan agriculture as a very advanced sector in the next 10-20 years because the youth is increasingly getting into agriculture and creating solutions for the sector. He also believes that if we leverage the resources we have in the next 10-20 years, the country will satisfy itself.
Eugene thinks that they are many opportunities for youth in agriculture, and in the contrary from what it is perceived about agriculture, youth have to understand that agriculture is value. They should identify the gaps in the value chain and find where they can fit. For instance, irrigation is still very expensive for average farmer in Rwanda and they can create simple and affordable technologies for farmers there is a huge opportunity for them. Additionally, there is still gaps in fertilizer production, farm management, book keeping, and post-harvest losses management.Attachments area
From RYAF Communication Team