Can you please introduce yourself to us?
My name is Toheeb Abdulsalam, the CEO of Farmignite Agric Innovate Ltd.
You are an Agropreneur; can you tell us what that means?
Yes, I am an Agropreneur, and for me being an Agropreneur means building a sustainable business or startup around agriculture to improve lives and provide sustainable food in the economy.
Why did you choose to become an Agropreneur?
After my tertiary education, with a degree in Adult and Primary Education.
I have always dreamt of building a big business and company. I knew I didn’t want to work for anyone and found my purpose for entrepreneurship.
The question I asked myself was, in what sector I want to build the business? So I started out my adventure in agriculture. Without an agricultural background, I knew I needed to acquire knowledge first. So I started out working for free as a casual worker at a local palm kernel oil milling factory, then a friend saw my struggle and introduced me to the Oil Palm Value Chain Network. A visit to the Nigeria Institute for Oil Palm Research was organized through the group and I visited with the group.
I was blown away by the amazing research carried out at the institute, so I stayed behind for training at the institute. Concluding the training I became a Consultant in the Palm sector and helping farmers solve problems in the farms in the sector. I also needed to up skill; so, I went on to International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) for a train in Cassava root production and Stem Multiplication. After this training, I immediately went on to Cocoa Research Institute for another training on Cocoa, Cashew, Coffee, Tea and Kolanut cultivation and plantation maintenance.
This was the beginning of my journey to becoming an Agropreneur.
When did you start Farmignite officially?
Farmignite started 26th of March 2018.
What are the challenges that came your way and how did you handle them?
Well, after my trainings at these institutes, I became a trainer and facilitator at First Massive Achievers where I train potential farmers and retirees on cultivation of crops and how they can start their farms.
These was a huge problem as I discovered a lots of working professionals and retirees wanted to start their farms, so we needed a solution that could help more people. So I decided to start Farmignite.
The first challenge I had was financing the early stages of the company. One of my strongest skills is Leveraging. I had to step up a team, leveraging the skills and network of the team to get things done.
Also, managing and motivating the team was another challenge at the early stages, we didn’t have the capacity to pay anyone at the time. But I put in structures in place, paid the team in shares and create a financial and strategic plan with the team. I think one thing that also motivated the team was including them in the decision making process.
Again we had challenges with Employee recruitment and retention. We did our first recruitment and interview on 5th November, 2018. But no candidate accepted by our offer. So, we made use of interns and contract staffs for our projects.
These are just some of our challenges.
Agritech is relatively new in Nigeria, but its thriving, how do you stay ahead of your competition?
Innovation, we put innovation at the core of our business. That’s how we stay ahead. And we know that with the huge tech savvy population we can thrive in the sector.
What are your principles in life?
- Dream big, think big and grow big
- Do what makes me happy.
- Build strong network
- Focus, innovation and creativity.
What’s your business philosophy?
As a corporation we are dedicated to using our innovative technology to impact the lives of our customers, employees and people around the world.
In Nigeria where there is high rate of scammers, how do you convince your investors that you are legit?
We have built our business brand around strong core values of trust, integrity and credibility which is a foundation for success.
This has been complemented by our partnership with ACP – EU CTA (African Caribbean Pacific Center for Technical Agriculture and Rural Cooperation) which improved our brand trust.
Also, our reviews and testimonials by our satisfied users has gone a long way to improving our brand trust and we thank all users of our platform for their continuous patronage.
What is/are your advice(s) for those who wish to become an entrepreneur or tow your path?
Respect the power of process. Crawl, walk and run. Build capacity, start small and build on that. It’s a rough road; Entrepreneurs are people who quit working 40hours a week, to work 80hours a week. Prepare to work twice as hard and be persistent. Entrepreneurs are the back bone of every economy; we are the future of Nigeria.