Meet Dorothy Otieno, Director, Nyalore Impact, recipient of a USD 5,000 cash incentive from Emory University

Dorothy Otieno, Entrepreneur and Director Nyalore Impact, recipient of a USD 5,000 cash incentive from Emory University (Emory’s Entrepreneurship Database Program / Global Accelerator Learning Initiative (GALI)


Meet Dorothy Otieno, Director Nyalore Impact, recipient of a USD 5,000 cash incentive from Emory University (Emory’s Entrepreneurship Database Program / Global Accelerator Learning Initiative (GALI), true agro-preneur, environmentalist, change ambassador and mother from Homa Bay County (Kenya). GrowthAfrica is one of the 60 accelerators globally supporting Emory’s Entrepreneurship Database Programme by requesting its programme applicants to contribute with data through a survey at the end of the GrowthAfrica acceleration programme application form.

Congratulations for being selected as one of the four ventures to receive USD 5000 cash incentives from Emory University!

Thank you! When I first received an email from Caitlin O’Donnell, informing me of the incentive, I was in total disbelief. I still have a butterfliers in my stomach and I am yet to come into terms with the whole situation because it was a total surprise! In fact, the best way to start the year.

Everyone I told about the email and incentive thought it was a hoax. The usual cyber tactics that people are using these days to swindle money from innocent people. It took a lot of convincing.

How did you manage to convince them?

I just gave a chronological order of events.  First, I received the call for application for GrowthAfrica’s Acceleration Programme 2016 via a WhatsApp group I am in with likeminded entrepreneurs. After reading about the programme online and one of my daughters assuring me that GrowthAfrica is a credible organisation, I decided to apply since I had plans to grow my business.

The application involved responding to some questions and then submitting the responses online which I did. After completing my submission there was a request to fill in an optional survey which was a research collaboration between Emory’s programme and GrowthAfrica. Without much thought, I decided to respond.

What triggered you to respond to the survey?

I responded to the survey because I wanted to be part of the research, I knew that the data these institutions were gathering was instrumental in getting insights that would help businesses like mine and entrepreneurs like me. The least I could do was fill in the survey.

At that point I did not know that I would win the USD 5,000 data contribution incentive. You can imagine my shock when I won (She smiles).

I would like to encourage all the entrepreneurs applying for the programme to fill in the survey, as their contribution to the research. I did not make it to the programme but I got awarded the incentive, so all efforts are worth it.

Dorothy, I would like to know more about your venture.

My business is called Nyalore Impact. Ny-a-lo-re (She says it slowly so I can learn how to pronounce it). Nyalore is an encouragement word in dhuluo that means “It is possible”, and yes, it is possible for me to achieve what I want to achieve with my venture; which connects farmers with agri-prenuers to ensure that land is utilised and both parties benefit from this arrangement.

Where I come from in Homa Bay county, there are two types of people, those who have land and cannot afford to farm and those who can afford to farm but do not have land. The role Nyaolre plays is bring these two parties together through a joint venture model.

How does the joint venture model work?

The farmer or land owner provides land for cultivation and the agri-prenuers covers all expenses that occur during the entire farming process from tiling, planting, growth, harvest to marketing until the produce is sold.

During this process, the farmer and or his family provide labour at a fee – this expense is covered by the agri-prenuer. The main aim of this is to ensure that their livelihoods are improved (they can afford their basic needs as well as education and healthcare).

Once the produce is sold the farmer and entrepreneur have a 30:70 profit sharing model which is a win-win situation. This model benefits the land owners more than having other people lease their land for KES 10,000 (USD 100) annually.

We have just completed a successful pilot of this model and we are now planning to scale.

What do you plan to do with the USD 5,000?

I plan to move into a bigger office, invest in promotional material such as a website – so that people can find us easier in this digital age, hire a receptionist and an agricultural expert. This incentive has come at the right time since I am finalising a partnership with Kimira Oluoch Smallholder Farm Improvement Project (KOSFIP) an initiative set up in 2006 by Government of Kenya and the African Development Bank.

The project set up an irrigation scheme for farmers in Homa Bay, ensuring all farms in the surrounding areas have furrows. However, they do not provide farmers with seeds or market for their produce and that is the gap Nyalore Impact is planning to fill.

We will ensure through our joint venture model these farmers will have investors coming into their farmers ensuring they receive farm inputs (seeds, fertilisers, etc.) and market for their produce.

Any parting words?

Starting a company requires patience, humility, flexibility, and most importantly, persistence. There are many challenges that I face as an entrepreneur, but when I see the impact I am creating and the benefits farmers have, it makes it all worth it. As entrepreneurs, we need to keep pushing until we attain our ultimate goals.