"I come from a district that was very much affected by the three decades of civil war," says Morris Okutta, founder of Creative Farmers. "Since there has been peace and more stability, the population has grown rapidly and so there are many more mouths to feed. Hence my idea of doing business in the agricultural sector."
"Our dream is a model farm with modern and creative solutions that serves as an example for the local population," Okutta explains. With a loan from OVO, he can now purchase a first incubator. The chicks will then be sold more cheaply to local farmers than on the market, increasing their income. They can then invest that money in their children's education, for example.
In addition, Creative Farmers also offers those same farmers training and support. "Because we reach so many people with our training courses, we have received official recognition from the Ugandan government as a training center," Okutta explains proudly. In a later stadium, he also wants to breed and sell piglets in a similar way and provide training on them. There is no shortage of ideas.
In Uganda, Creative Farmers participated in SusTech4Africa, a selection and multi-day training camp run by OVO for start-ups and growing companies. "Before I enrolled, I had not received any business training. I had a desire to be an entrepreneur, but I had no idea what a good business plan looked like," Okutta recalls. "During those three days in Kampala, I learned an awful lot, including how to pitch my idea. I had never done that before."
After that initial introduction, Creative Farmers received months of guidance from the volunteers at OVO. "We actually received free entrepreneurial training," Okutta states happily. "We now understand how much debt we can handle and how we can pay it back. And we better understand how to keep our competitive edge in a very competitive market. And, of course, OVO has made our financing possible."
Jan Van den Bergh is one of the volunteers who worked with Okutta for almost a year. "Morris knew pretty well what everything cost, for example, and he had a lot of ideas. But he saw it big with different stables and an installation with solar panels. For us it was not so clear what exactly he wanted to do. There were plans to breed pigs and chickens, hatch chicks, sell piglets and on top of that give all kinds of training. We mainly raised the point that it would be better for him to start with one project and only expand further if it goes well."
"Together with Morris, we revisited the business plan based on more realistic assumptions. Then we also tinkered strongly with the financial plan. It was not always easy to convince Morris, but in retrospect, the search for focus was probably our main added value in this project."
Van den Bergh and his fellow volunteers at OVO also took a close look at the social component to Creative Farmers. "We mainly helped to elaborate and write out the model. By better integrating the social project, it will be easier to find funding. It shows now with the money and recognition they are getting from the government of Uganda."
Love of culture
During his career, Van den Bergh held several management positions at a large chemical company based in Germany. "I spent almost my entire career abroad and moved frequently. At the end, I was responsible for the Middle East and Africa, among others. That's how I acquired a love for those cultures. OVO allows me to stay in touch with that."
For the engineer, there is a second motive for volunteering. "I have been fortunate enough to be able to grow and earn a good living. Now I get the chance to give something back."
"You stay busy and you also keep learning," Van den Bergh is happy to recommend OVO. "Creative Farmers, for example, made it clear already in its first proposal how nothing would go to waste. They actually proposed a circular economic model without perhaps ever hearing about the term themselves. That circularity is just ingrained in their thinking. So never say you can't learn something in Africa."