Agribusiness Entrepreneur 2011
Agrodealer headquartered in Mponela, Malawi
Mrs. Dinnah Kapiza is a remarkably successful agrodealer headquartered in Mponela, Malawi. In 1999, Mrs. Kapiza lost her husband, and, unable to support her ten children on her teacher’s salary, she moved back to her home village of Mponela to start a small business selling used clothing. In 2002, Mrs. Kapiza learned of the CNFA/RUMARK agrodealer training program. Through the training, she recognized the opportunity in the underserved agroinput market. With a grant from the Malawi Agrodealer Strengthening Program (“MASP”), Mrs. Kapiza opened her first shop. Her training enabled her to build commercial relationships with suppliers of seed, fertilizer, and agrochemicals. The credit that these suppliers provided allowed Mrs. Kapiza to build her business and supply much needed inputs to small holder farmers.
As her business prospered, Mrs. Kapiza received a grant to rehabilitate a warehouse. This warehouse, along with her business acumen, enabled her to successfully purchase excess maize, soy beans and ground nuts from small farmers and sell the produce to larger buyers. She also organized women’s outgrower groups and introduced those groups to micro-financing institutions, which have helped these women generate income from their small plots.
Today, Mrs. Kapiza operates four agrodealer shops. She has ten permanent employees and she hires an additional six temporary employees during buying season. Her operations provide much needed market opportunities to over 3,000 small farmers in the region. Before Mrs. Kapiza started her business, these small farmers would have to travel over 60 kilometers to access seed and fertilizer. Now she draws from a customer base that is no more than 10 kilometers from one of her shops. Additionally, with the assistance of a 2008 matching grant from AGRA, Mrs. Kapiza was able to acquire trucks. She can now offer pick-up and delivery service to farmers doing larger volume business with her.
The numbers speak for themselves. In 2002, Mrs. Kapiza started her business with 20,000 Malawi kwacha (US$133). In 2010, Mrs. Kapiza sold approximately 200 MT of fertilizer and over 30 MT of seed. As of the end of last year, the value of her business was 15,000,000 Malawi kwacha (US$100,000). In addition to her business, Mrs. Kapiza tirelessly gives back to her community. She is President of the RUMARK Agrodealer Association, which has approximately 200 members and which seeks (with the assistance of the Alliance for a Green Revolution for Africa) to include all 1,500 RUMARK trained agrodealers in the organization. Mrs. Kapiza manages many of RUMARK’s demonstration plots, which showcase improved seed and soil fertility enhancing agents for local farmers. She also serves as a member on the RUMARK Board of Directors.