Avail Group

Entrepreneur: Joseph Male, 27

A university graduate with a BA in Accounting and Finance, Joseph started out working as an accountant for a local company. The pay was not good and an accident that forced him to take time off work and left him struggling to pay medical bills led him to start thinking about alternative employment. A visit to a friend’s farm brought to mind the 20 acres of unused family land he had access to and got him started along his entrepreneurial journey. He went on to set up AVAIL group, initially operating as a NGO, that trained farmers in vegetable growing and provided a route to market for the produce.

Consultant: Julie Su, 35

A project manager and marketing expert, Julie Su was looking for a way to apply the skills she acquired while working as a management consultant earlier on in her career. She came across Grow Movement online and thought it would be a good way to apply her skills and make an impact.

Business challenges and objectives of the project

When Joseph was partnered up with Julie, he was running AVAIL group as a NGO. He was having challenges selling the produce and paying the farmers consistently. This meant that the farmers ended up selling the produce to middle men who offered them very low prices. Joseph needed help getting his products directly to consumers, allowing him to by-pass the middle men and offer the farmers a better price. Together Joseph and Julie focused on developing the business side which would bring in revenue to support the NGO, making it sustainable.

The results

On Julie’s advice, Joseph incorporated a separate business to handle marketing of the produce. They shared ideas on different ways to reach consumers and develop a consistent supply chain. They came up with the basket scheme which packaged an assortment of vegetables into a basket and delivered them directly to the offices of middle class clients who were too busy to go to the market themselves. The fact that the business was now incorporated also enabled Joseph to land contracts to supply several upscale cafes and restaurants. These initiatives increased Joseph’s profit by 75%, enabled him to pay the farmers in advance and buy produce from 16 more farmers.

The Impact on Joseph

“The Grow programme has taught me the power of collaboration and sharing ideas. Without Julie I would not have achieved this level of growth so quickly. I probably would still be struggling to sell my produce.”

The Impact on Julie

“Joseph inspired and excited me. His passion and energy made me look forward to our sessions. A young man in his twenties juggling school, business and running a non-profit organisation. It really caused me to challenge myself and think about whether I’m fully utilising all the resources I have easy access to. Professionally it taught me to tackle problems from a different perspective. I ended up spending more time on the project than I had planned. I would sometimes spend two-three hours after the sessions thinking about it. I spoke to friends and got their ideas. I became passionate about it.”

 

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