From Barbershop to croton seed collection: A businessman’s journey

Francis

Francis is a barber from Samburu County, Kenya who works hard to provide for his family. Yet, despite his best efforts, he realized that the income from this business could not cover his family’s needs. After he learned about croton seed collection from a local radio station, this inspired him to take on this career path so he could earn additional income. The Croton plant is a perennial evergreen shrub that has thick, leathery leaves of varying colors, shapes, and sizes. This tropical plant is often used in North America as an indoor decorative plant.

MEDA partnered with EcoFix, a Croton nut processing company, in 2019 as part of the M-SAWA project, funded by Global Affairs Canada (GAC), to support farmers like Francis across the Samburu, Makueni, and Narok counties. The partnership has enabled EcoFix to institute a quality assurance process by training producers, transporters, lead farmers and other suppliers on appropriate pre-harvest and post-harvest techniques. In addition, project matching grant funds helped supply green and safe technologies such as drying and sieving tables to lead collectors and farmers.

The Croton Plant

EcoFix provided Francis with croton preparation and storage training and soon appointed him as a lead collector to assist in croton seeds collection. As a lead collector, Francis was provided with a mobile device to better analyze the market and communicate with EcoFix about croton nut collection processes.

Francis’ first efforts were very successful: he collected 32 bags of croton seeds (each weighing 154 lbs.) while travelling across Samburu county. Overall, he collected 5,952 lbs. per month and earned approximately Ksh.27,000 ($246 USD).

“This is [a] significant boost since my barber shop generates Ksh.10,000 ($91.12 USD) a month. The croton collection business has been instrumental to me as it provides a reliable source of income to help me to sustain my young family besides the barber shop,” Francis said.

Francis is grateful for his new career: he has acquired business management, negotiation, and leadership skills which he now uses to manage his business more effectively. The future looks bright for his business as Francis continues supplying high quality nuts to EcoFix while continuing to collect seeds for his business.

By Walter Tinega, Faith Nyagwoka and Alex Hori

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