GrowthAfrica Alumni Sare Millers is an animal feed manufacturing company in Kenya, that provides high-quality feed to farmers at affordable prices. They also help empower girls with their Sare Girl Champion programme. Read the story of Dave Okech who founded Sare Millers and how GrowthAfrica has helped him grow his business.
When David Okech decided to leave behind his well-paid job at a reputable company and help African farmers instead, his mother shook her head in disbelief. She did not know that is was her who inspired Dave to take this step to begin with. “My mother is a livestock farmer and was almost pushed out of her business by rising animal feed prices”, Dave remembers. “I saw her struggle and fear that she would lose what was so important to her”. In many African countries, it is women and girls who are left to look after animals and land, while men are often away working and studying in the cities.
With his company Sare Millers, Dave not only makes good quality animal feed affordable to farmers but he also makes it a priority to help women and vulnerable girls improve their lives. He fights against the common view that farming is just a way of subsistence and advocates for seeing farming through a business lens – after all, agriculture is Kenya’s economic backbone, so why not use it to empower farmers socially and economically? Keeping prices low and the quality high has not always been easy, but Dave has kept his promise. By using maize germ and importing the protein from Uganda he is able to provide the farmers of Kisumu, Bungoma, Mbale and Fort Ternan with accessible quality feed. The increased production of milk and improved growth rates from livestock helps small farmers establish a sustainable business model while contributing to food security among some of the most vulnerable communities.
Aside from accessible quality feed he also provides training, seminars, access to veterinary services and financial advice to his farmers when needed. Sare Millers’ credo is not just to attract and retain clients, but to empower them by building strong, self-sustainable communities around their businesses.
Sare Millers began their journey with GrowthAfrica’s startup accelerator
programme in 2014. “GrowthAfrica helped me get hands-on skills for my business. We grew with and through GrowthAfrica”, Dave says about his partnership with GrowthAfrica. Bringing together Sare Miller’s strong entrepreneurial spirit and sense of community with Growthafrica’s expertise and vast network, the journey turned out to be not only beneficial to both parties but also to the communities where Sare Millers works.
As the managing in-country partner for Kenya, GrowthAfrica advised Dave to apply to SPRING – a DFID, USAID and Nike funded accelerator programme that supports businesses whose products and services could transform the lives of adolescent girls Under SPRING, Sare Millers supports 50 girls from the most vulnerable society segments, a projected 1,000 more in 2016 to come! The Sare Girl Champion Project empowers girls through training in agribusiness and a loan. The latter helps them start their own poultry business, buy chicks, feed, chicken houses and that in turn would allow them to become financially independent. Above all, it’s their poultry businesses that allow these girls to continue their education.
Keep updated on Dave and the GirlChampion progress on Twitter @SareMillers and @GrowthAfrica.