The year has been nothing short of a roller coaster for me and this regards all aspects of my life.
I have made bold decisions, some in the heated spur of the moment and some after careful calculations and the results are all a balance of good bad, regrets and lessons learnt.
To be a man and to be Kenyan is to always take everything in stride and with a pinch of salt.
Still staggering from the side effects of the pandemic, I made what I now consider as an ill-timed decision to leave the city. This was in the backdrop of relentless advice not to do it because my state of mind was not in a good place.
I was dealing with joblessness in the only way I knew how to do it - heavy drinking and even the savings I thought were sustainable for me were barely enough to start and fund a business venture from the ground.
I had a narrow vision and a stubborn head at that point and the only voice I listened to was mine. No business can stand on a half sober mind, a clear head is always invaluable if you ask me.
Kakamega is a town that bristles and bursts. She grows quickly by the day. Today you are staring at a derelict piece of land, tomorrow there is a four-star hotel there with roots, stems and branches.
Every arable piece of land is slowly being converted into commercial use and this is where I thought my entrepreneurial skills would come in. I wanted to grow enough food to feed the whole town on a fertile piece of land that my family owns.
I moved from Nairobi, half sober like the saint patron I am and began work on the farm. Fencing, digging a well, buying dog breeds - you get it. I was riding on a good wave.
Everything was mapped out. I wanted an organic farm and this meant that I had to collect manure and dump it on the piece of land which had been rendered almost infertile by use of synthetic fertilisers. This was the easy part.
The hard work was fencing and digging the well. First off because the patch of land is rocky and the price for digging the well escalated from Ksh20,000 to almost Ksh 60,000.
Fencing a piece of land should be listed on the 1000 ways to get a man broke especially if it sits on an uneven piece of land.
Breed dogs eat like possessed demons and before I knew it, I was feeling the pinch. My small kitchen garden was doing well but it was barely enough to feed a whole village let alone a town.
My capital meanwhile was growing legs and my little liquor habit had quickly morphed into puberty. I was spending and spending without an inflow of cash which was only serving to make me more depressed, more miserable and desperate.
You can say I never really settled.
A wise man learns from his folly and I had to have a meeting with myself - over a beer of course.
I played both protagonist and antagonist in the meeting. Poked holes in my perfect plan that I should have poked earlier and I found myself falling short.
I was chasing after fools gold with the budget of a church mouse, every end was bound to be loose.
See I went to law school, which I finished and lost taste in practice. I was a better writer than a lawyer. The only knowledge I had about running a farm stemmed from growing up in one and watching how my grandmother worked.
My grandmother has been dead for more than 12 years during which farming has evolved. I was a blacksmith trying a hand in the stock exchange and there was only one result at the end of the day.
I would flunk. I flunked.
Farming is a continuous process almost like building a city. It does not start and end in one day, you can ask the Romans about this. It is tedious and painstakingly slow.
Word on the street says that one should be willing to spend more than three years of their lives investing in a farm before they can even start breaking even. I didn’t know this.
I didn’t even understand the dynamics of the market. I just barged in purely on instinct and a desire to make money.
You can only make money if you are willing to undergo the process. When money becomes the chief motivator, one becomes irrational and impatient - big vices in business.
I had to have a clear head to function. I wasn’t going to have a clear one in a place that was dysfunctional to my mental and financial state.
Startups have a bad history in Kenya, not just international ones but also domestic ones.
The laws are not refined around them and aside from that, most people that get into entrepreneurial ventures are unqualified to run the most basic of village shops. I paid a hefty price with my money and my time.
It is a good idea to have a proper reconnaissance of the business venture. It is important to understand how business dynamics evolve, to have an open ear to advice and work with a clear head.
Savings are never enough, money trickles out faster than it trickles in and if there isn’t a way to stem this, one is likely to have their wells run dry.
The streets say that there are no better lessons than those you learn at the rock bottom. A wise man will enjoy the process of the climb up again, a foolish person will only dig oil wells.
I had to come back to the city again. To look for resources and while at it to learn all I can learn about business.
Kakamega is still growing. People still need to eat and when the time is right, I will be back at it again, there can be no mistake this time.
Lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice but when it does, there is always a fatality.
I cannot be part of a failed statistic again.