Cycling along a rich-red, dusty, bumpy road, his bicycle creaking under the weight of him, several chickens and 180 eggs, Marcel is concerned for the safety of his cargo. But the 3 hour round trip to the local market by bicycle is worth it for the financial rewards it reaps.
For Marcel Izabayo, a Crop Production graduate from the College of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine, finding a job relevant to his expertise in Rwanda was a difficult task. The problem that Marcel was confronted with, was the same that many others in Rwanda face. For every six people in the labour force, one person is unemployed, and that rate increases for young people:, 21% in 2017.
For this reason, venturing in a new field was a possibility that Marcel thought about and went for. With personal savings and an entrepreneurial spirit, he bought his first forty chickens initially for self-sufficiency. As his earnings increased, he was able to start retailing his extra stock at the local market, which is wear his trusty bicycle comes in.
When visiting the INES Business Incubation Center in Musanze, he was told of SPARK and its MFS2 programme, which offered business trainings and support for existing SMEs. Marcel knew that in order to scale up his business and improve the management of his operations he needed help. Motivated by the prospect of having a secure business to provide for his family, and help the development of his community, Marcel completed the training in 2015.
Today, Marcel employees three local people, owns 200 chickens, which produce between 160-180 eggs every day! Of course, challenges for him persist, like understanding when the chickens have diseases. But following the training, Marcel has professionalised his bookkeeping and management, and learnt how to recognise when the produce is scarce and when he has to call the veterinarian for a check-up.
“I am now able to translate my plans into clear and realistic steps, I am still tracking every move in my business”
By improving his livelihood and knowledge in his field, as well as provide stability for his loved ones, Marcel has become a central figure in the community. Young people reach out to him for advice and he supplies chicken manure to other locals to use as soil fertiliser. After the experience with SPARK, he started to believe that monetary barriers are only relative to the success of entrepreneurs, and that knowledge and information have a central role too.
Once grappled by his initial challenges, Marcel’s prospects have grown rapidly. He currently aims to grow his business to 1000 chickens within the coming year, in order to fill a gap in the market that exists in his region. He wants to learn from other entrepreneurs far from his home that are using unique techniques for chicken rearing. And, ever the entrepreneur, he is also looking into other fields, such as potato farming.
Marcel reminded SPARK that there is never just one path to achieve a goal. In his case, SPARK’s support and his adaptability and soft-skills, have worked hand-in-hand to ensure the establishment of his business and the progress of his ambitions, which happily now seem aimed at far flung horizons.