Ayo Alonge, [email protected]
Muyiwa Folorunso is the Chief Creative Officer and CEO of Divergent Enterprise, the parent company of Porkmoney, a leading pig farming enterprise in West Africa with the objective of welcoming interested investors, while sponsoring the purchase and breeding of pigs till maturation for the market. The pigs are then processed, packaged and sold after 11 months, as partners earn between 15-30% returns on their capitals, based on plan of choice.
According to the entrepreneur, despite the challenges greeting the business, pig farming is a very lucrative venture, especially as it is not yet saturated. Folorunso speaks on potency, patronage and profitability of the business, while also clamouring for government’s support for piggery and small businesses in general.
Growing up, I realised that I was very enterprising and probably a little too headstrong to work anywhere. I always knew that I had to be my own boss and so I just took the necessary steps that were required for that to happen. My journey into entrepreneurship, when starting out like most people, was very difficult. Starting a business in Nigeria can be very exhausting.
It’s incontestable that capital is the most important tool needed to start a business, irrespective of your brilliant ideas, which I had a lot of. Although I had no capital or mentorship, I held on to my dreams and believed in my goals. It can be very difficult, to be honest, but you must take action. Start where you are. That’s what I did. I started.
When I was starting out in business, I had no capital, training or resources to start my journey. The brilliant ideas were there, all that was needed to execute them was finance which was lacking. The very first successful business idea I started was a fashion business called True Rebel. I raised capital by selling. The customer is the first line of capital, and I was lucky enough to understand that. It didn’t take long before a little capital grew. Capital, for me, is simply the ability to create and market value.
One of the challenges we constantly face is the need to manage casual workers. From farm handlers, managers, production managers and other workers. Many of them, if not managed properly, are very ready to compromise on set standards by cutting corners. What I found out is a very unsettling cultural reality in Nigeria. Another challenge, albeit minor, is the religious sentiments with half of the country towards pigs and pork products. However, we have come to see this as less of a challenge and more of an opportunity as we have seen that this hardly stops the consumption of our products and it is merely taboo for some but still holds a great appeal to the same set of people.
Over time, we have imbibed a strong problem solving culture in the company, as we continuously strive to provide value in the agricultural ecosystem. We have many good people who help push our culture of excellence within our system. Also, we have put in place systems and measures to ensure effective people management and maximum productivity across board.
We compel people to patronise us by simply offering value. For our financial partners, we are posed to giving them value for their monies invested and providing them with security and an avenue to create wealth for themselves. Also, for the consumers of our end products, we ensure that our products are of the best quality and ensure customer satisfaction and retention.
We believe we are our own competition. We paved the way for others to follow and that’s something we take pride in. Since we came in, we have seen an influx of new companies in this line of business, that is pig farming, with the same model or a slightly different model. We have been able to stand out and we are, so far, the largest, by far, of all the others towing this line.
We haven’t considered getting loans yet. Loans were never an option in the beginning because of just how bureaucratic the process is in securing one. Also, a lot of financial institutions do not regard livestock as tangible collateral, making it almost impossible to access one. Fortunately, our business model affords individuals an opportunity to also be a part of what we are doing which also enables us to call the shots regarding how we raise capital for expansion.
Pig farming in Nigeria is one of the most lucrative and profitable livestock businesses. Commercial pig farming is beneficial due to the fact that pigs are prolific breeders and can deliver 10 to 14 piglets in a single birth. They also have the highest feed to meat ratio with pigs being not too picky about what they consume. So in summary, it is very lucrative. More so, it is because it is not yet very popular.
Support for SMEs
Government at all levels can encourage and promote small businesses and entrepreneurs by providing access to funding and the formulation of policies that create an enabling environment for pig farming to thrive. The federal and state governments must also come together to create multiple sources of funding strictly for agriculture. Loans to agricultural enterprises should bear single digit interest rates, if any at all, if they are really serious about breathing life into this sector of the economy.
Future of agriculture
Where I see the agricultural sector in the next 10 years? The agricultural sector is fast becoming a mainstay in the nation’s economy. It is very evident by the number of agribusiness and agritech enterprises springing up daily. Our desire is that, gradually, agriculture can finally retain its position as the number one revenue generating industry and overtake the oil and gas sector. But this would only happen with a shift in mindset. This is because agriculture is not being looked at through the right lenses. We have been looking at agriculture as a developmental activity, like a social sector in which you manage poor people in rural areas. But agriculture is not a social sector. Agriculture is a business.
Our goal is to own the largest privately owned pig farm in Nigeria. We have purchased a vast land space in the Epe area of Lagos which is a step in the right direction. In five years, we also want to be a key player in the agric sector and at the forefront of the livestock farming industry. We envision ourselves as the largest supplier of pork products within and outside the borders of Nigeria. Our e-commerce brand, Porkoyum, currently retails The Porkoyum Sausage, Porkoyum Bacon and our product, the Porkoyum Pork cubes. We are working towards expanding our product line as well as broaden our geographical distribution to being beyond Lagos State and finally across the country. We expect to achieve this successfully in the next two years.