Each year over 300,000 youth graduate from Nigerian Youth Corps (NYSC), a mandatory service established by the government, and enter into the job market with high hopes of landing their dream job. For many graduates, this dream rarely includes aspirations of working on a farm. However, for Dr. Ayoade Oyedotun, Nigeria’s booming agriculture sector was teeming with possibilities.
Shortly after completing his NYSC in 2011, Ayoade decided to leverage on his knowledge as a trained veterinarian and start his own poultry farm in Oyo State, the southwestern part of Nigeria. He would spend the next three years working tirelessly to improve the capacity and customer base of his farm; however, the lack of access to quality inputs and tools for his farm would stifle his business. In 2015, after years of minimal growth, Ayoade decided to close up shop and began to envision a solution that would aid other farmers facing similar challenges.
With this vision, he applied for the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme in 2015 where he was able to develop his business idea to build Afrimash, an innovative platform designed to help farmers and agro-processors access seedlings, equipment, tools, and other good quality inputs to help maintain and improve their productivity on the field.
Using the 12-week training and the funding he received, Ayoade was able to “thoroughly look into the intricacies of his business” and “test out his idea”. He reflects that before the Programme he did not truly understand the needs of his target market.
“I first started my business with the belief that farmers wanted to connect with one another as well as suppliers. However, over time I discovered that farmers were more concerned with finding quality goods and less interested in networking. Once I gave them what they wanted – products to buy – they took it.”
Since graduating from the Programme in 2015, Ayoade continues to apply the principles he learned to grow his business. In just 24 months of operation, Afrimash has reached over 5,000 farmers and delivered over 100,000 items to almost every state in Nigeria.
Such widespread impact has not gone unnoticed. In 2017, he was selected as one of the 7 finalists at the PitchAgrihack West Africa and in 2018 his team was also featured as one of the top 5 startups at TechFest in Nigeria.
As his business grows, Ayoade continues to be driven by the desire to bridge the gap between farmers and quality products and he hopes that one day Afrimash will become the #1 online store for buying agricultural items in Africa.
To find out more about Afrimash visit their website – www.afrimash.com or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.