In 2017, after serving as a Business Development Specialist for 13 years, Mboya Jacktone Omondi quit his job to start his company Hung Pump Kenya, an agro-forestry company that is now recruiting farmers to plant bamboo.
In this, it has so far contracted 104 bamboo farmers who have planted 1177 acres and another 139 farmers who have planted 2400 acres of sisal.
“We’re setting up a bamboo flooring factory in four years in Kisumu and a sisal fiber processing factory in Samburu in five years hence farmers who plant the crop now will have access to the market,” said Mboya.
“Hung Pump Kenya is an agroforestry corporate. Our core business is bamboo and sisal plantations management, manufacturer and marketing of bamboo and sisal products. Sisal isn’t new to Kenyans but there’s little of it or information regarding new development on the same. Bamboo is a new product and the plantations management as a business concept is fairly new to Kenyans,” said Mboya.
“As the Company’s chief executive, it’s my duty to ensure that sufficient information is available to farmers, investors and stakeholders. So I have to draft our marketing strategy, farmer and investors recruitment campaigns as well as partner liaison simultaneously,”
Bamboo forest. Photo: Farmbiz Africa
Hung Pump Kenya is currently in the process of recruiting farmers and investors to plant bamboo and sisal with the company ready to provide market. The procedure involves a one on one talk with interested parties, accessing the viability of the farm, soil testing and eventual signing of contract after an agreement is reached.
Mboya began with two million shillings from personal savings and terminal benefits from his last employer; so far, he has sunk over five million in the business. He has five permanent employees and regularly employs at least 100 casuals to maintain the plantations.
“We’re dealing with a very cautious population and rightly, people who’ve been duped of their savings in dubious quick-fix schemes by unscrupulous wheel-dealers and even family members. This means we need to spend a lot of time educating and building trust before they eventually commit their money. We also get most of our clients via referrals from trusted friends who have since signed up,”
Mboya says bamboo is the 21st century steel- the silver bullet to almost every problem facing us today while sisal is the green gold for Arid and semi-Arid areas ranging from unemployment, environmental degradation, climate change, depletion on natural resources, health and unsustainable industrial production.
Mboya holds a Bachelor of Business Administration – Marketing from Kenya Methodist University (2014) and a Diploma in Business Management from Kenya Institute of management (2009) and is currently pursuing a professional marketing diploma course.
His first job as a business development trainee was with an organization called Kenya Kountry Business Incubator then founded by Prof. Ann Atieno Ndede now VC Great Lakes University.
“It was an environment very similar and tailored like what we’re doing now. Moreover, at 25 years, I was already an area sales manager for Old Mutual Life Assurance with jurisdiction all over Nyanza and Western Kenya. At 31, I was country head of sales and marketing for Fargo Courier and Logistics. This meant that I had been entrusted with great organizational decisions at a young age yet delivered with unquestionable ability and diligence. I was ready for this role 10 years ago,” said Mboya.
But his journey as an entrepreneur has been not been rosy. In 2014 he lost all his investment when he tried horticulture farming.
“2014 is a definitive year to my path to Hung Pump. I have always been a farmer though in very small scale. Then in this year, I got a burning to do better so I invested Sh700,000 of my savings and a performance bonus I had got in a five acre a horticulture farming,” said Mboya
Onions, tomatoes, water melons and arrowroots were his options. However, after three months, he had lost everything due to mismanagement by his farmhand.
On bamboo production, his biggest challenge is investor skepticism, coding and standardization of bamboo and bamboo products at the policy level. This he said has limited the specification of bamboo as a construction material, perfect substitute for natural trees timber and thus limited market.
“I am glad that Kenya is now a member of the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan – INBAR – which is now in the process of coding the products to open the industry. This is when the boom will hit the region but how ready will we be?”
Mboya can be reached on +254 720 794 967.