Find out how I turned my campus project into a business to impact poultry farmers in the coastal region
Please describe your business to us, what exactly do you do at Call-Main Hatchery?
We manufacture fully solar powered egg incubators to try and solve the challenge of food security in Kenya. Our incubators have the capacity to hatch 96 eggs at one go with a success rate of 90%. Our target customers are the small scale poultry farmers in the coastal region. We sell to them on a pay as you go basis. The one off cost of the solar powered egg incubator is Kshs. 140,000 but since they are not able to afford that, we allow them to pay in instalments: A deposit of Kshs. 7000 and daily instalments of Kshs. 130 for a period of 3 years. During this period we offer maintenance as no extra costs.
What made you target this particular market- the small scale poultry farmers?
We are targeting farmers in the coastal region and more specifically farmers living in Kilifi, Kwale and Taita Taveta counties. When we were doing our market research we realised that most of these farmers are not connected to electricity and that is why we developed the solar powered egg incubators. Secondly, these farmers are already doing poultry farming but they are doing it the traditional way and we thought of bringing them a solution to help them scale their poultry farming faster.
What inspired the idea of Call-Main Hatchery?
I grew up in Nyeri and my parents were both poultry farmers and I watched them do it the traditional way where the hen would lay on the eggs. I have always loved engineering so when I joined the University, as my final year project I figured out a way to integrate Engineering and poultry farming to come up with a better method to practice poultry farming. My project did well and afterwards I decided to pursue it as a business.
What does entrepreneurship mean to you?
Entrepreneurship for me means being able to empower the community around me to be able to generate income for themselves.
How has your journey been? You did your school project, it was amazing and you decided to commercialize the idea, what happened next?
I used my own resources to build the very first solar powered egg incubator. As I was thinking about commercializing it, I needed to produce other incubators but I did not have the money to do that, networks played a very crucial role in the growth of the business and product development. I presented my product at different exhibitions in Mombasa where I was connected to a hub in Mombasa that is how I got my initial investment. I also joined challenges like the leap2 challenge by Nailab where I was able to get business mentorship.
What are some of the key entrepreneurial lessons that you have learnt throughout your journey?
I made an assumption that because both my co-founder and I had a background in engineering that we would be able to build the incubators on our own. Later on we realised that it would be cheaper to import some of the parts instead of making all the electronic parts from scratch by ourselves.
How do you market your product and acquire new clients?
As we were doing our market research we realised that poultry farmers in the coastal region have Whatsapp groups, so we joined these groups and this has been the greatest avenue because we teach farmers about the incubators and how it works in the groups and we have gotten several orders. We also engage farmers on the ground by talking to them face-to-face.