By Edwin Khakali
e are all dreamers but I’d like to call ourselves
daydreamers because we dream with our eyes wide open. I also like to think of
ourselves as people who take massive action to turn these dreams into reality.
This is a short story of the doers, those who take action. And lots of it for
I’m sure you must be wondering (or maybe not), what
makes us tick, what makes us wake up every morning and brave the odds. This is
a scoop never heard/seen before, and you have the opportunity to hear from us
firsthand. While you might have heard about Kilimoguru Ltd., you might also be
wondering, where are our roots? How did Kilimoguru come into existence? What
have we been doing to reach this stage? I have all the answers.
Whenever you get a sit-down or bump into our CEO, Mr.
Evans Muriki, he’s always eager to passionately
share about the company’s journey. It has been one of many trial and errors,
learning, unlearning, and relearning. But most importantly, one of resilience, persistence,
massive action, drive, vision, and ruthless focus.
While students at Moi University, our outgoing
nature got us into the prestigious Hult
Prize global competition, founded by Ahmad Ashkar.
The annual year-long competition challenges college students to solve a
pressing social issue around topics such as food security, water access,
energy, and education. Its mission is to empower the youth to make a positive
impact on the world. Competing at the Hult Prize competition was what really
put us in motion. Being in a space where like-minded young individuals were
making things happen in their countries was both an eye-opener and a doorway to
a new reality. And in the words of our CEO, it was “time to soar.”
Kilimoguru was initially an idea that sought to
bridge the gap between producers of food and the market. We developed an app
that would facilitate this by linking farmers to the market and helping them cut costs and reduce losses. In 2019, when it was incorporated into a company, we
partnered with Moi University students in an organization called Enactus.
Their project sought to empower women in Uasin Gishu County by disseminating
mushroom production skills. Kilimoguru came in to help automate the mushroom
houses to monitor temperature and moisture levels. This was to facilitate an
optimum mushroom growing environment that would help double the yields and prevent
losses. It was an amazing opportunity to work with students who were as
passionate about agriculture as we were. This relationship proved to be
mutually beneficial in the company’s next steps.
While our Hult Prize competition journey ended at
the regional level, our dreams did not die there. We went back to the basics
and through iteration on product development, we tweaked our idea a little bit.
We leveraged insights from the competition, working with Enactus students,
and farmers in Uasin Gishu County to improve our idea. This led to a slight
change in our business model, one based on comprehensive market research and
Through the human-centered design approach, we sort
to work with small-scale commercial farmers with a focus on precision farming.
Our services shifted from linking farmers to the market to helping them double their
crop production by monitoring their farm conditions and offering soil testing
services. This means that once our K-guru, IoT devices are installed on a farm,
we are able to collect data, analyze it, and send the farmer real-time farm
insights/recommendations/corrective actions to take on his farm at the comfort
of their mobile phone.
As our business model took shape, we competed
against other startups and were accepted into the E4Impact Accelerator startup
program for a one year business mentorship and coaching to help build and grow
the business. The program ends in December 2021. At the same time, we were
successful applicants of the Mbele na Biz Business Plan competition by the
government of Kenya, winning a grant of Kshs. 0.9 million. These funds are
being channeled into R&D and scaling up the business.
For Kilimoguru, this is only the beginning, we have
an exciting journey ahead of us and we are not leaving behind any small-scale
commercial farmer. We are harnessing the potential of new technology to help
spur productivity, increase profits and improve the livelihoods of many
Kenyans. We want to create jobs and make sure you have healthy food on your