Entrepreneurs are born and not made. Those are the words of Festus the proprietor of kings Biofuel one of the most successful clients KCIC has had over the years. For him the business did not begin from the urge to make more money as from his own assessment the money he was making in civil service was enough to sustain him and his family. The desire to start a business and create something was burning in him. Armed with just the desire to create, he started a journey albeit with very little information on what would happen along the way and especially where he would get capital to put his idea on its feet.
Festus dived in and started making briquettes which by the time he had started making, he was not sure on how the market would respond and how he would pull through. The one thing he was clear was he was making quality products and the market would come to him in one way or the other. I believe that is what they call believing in yourself.
I had a conversation with the very excited Festus and here are some of the lessons I drew from him that other entrepreneurs can borrow from him:
Go for what you believe in, no matter what
Festus approached friends to partner with him but they did not believe in his project and so he started the business on his own. The vision he had and the prospects to grow a multi-million clean business from producing briquettes was not shared by his friends and even family.
Festus however insisted it is important for anyone getting into business to do background research and not get into the business with minimal information like he did. For him there are things like development of a bankable business plan that he learnt about when he had started developing the infrastructure. He notes had he developed a business plan before hand he would have been more prepared for the business and the challenges ahead.
If you fail, take the lessons and build a leaner, more efficient business.
Financing a business is not easy especially when you are developing a relatively new product in the market.
Financial institutions need collateral and a financial track record to advance you any sort of financing. Festus therefore was not able to get financing from commercial banks. He, however, from his network learnt of the IDB Capital which gave him flexible conditions that he was able to meet and from which he received funding he needed to finish the set up of his business.
As an entrepreneur you have to know the type of finance that suits the type and stage of the business. Apart from commercial banks, there are angel and impact investors, development institutions, accelerators that offer flexible financing solutions to entrepreneurs. As you set up a business one can align to suitable partners who not only provide financing but also technical assistance and build credibility.
Building structures and systems takes time
It is nearly impossible to set up a business and be able to have all the organizational structures in place as you start. Begin by setting up what is critical to ensure the business can take off. Festus is still refining up the operational systems of his company after starting with ensuring all the technical ones were up and running. He is also in the process of setting up a board which he agrees will be useful in setting up structures for corporate governance within the organization.
There is a business case among clean tech enterprises
Its been a question that investors and entrepreneurs have been pondering on for a while. Can you sustainably build an impact business that delivers social good while generating business returns?
For the case of Kings Biofuels, Yes. The company is producing an alternative fuel to fossils to industrial and domestic markets, while having strong community and sustainability focus.
The company is still work in progress, however there is a lot we can learn and borrow from the journey the company has been on. Its is the simple things that can make a huge difference for an entrepreneur.
By Sarah Makena.