Ali Maalim’s Story
Running a business is especially difficult when attempting to turn around a sector already ill-reputed to availing poor-quality products to consumers. In 2014, Ali Maalim Abdi found himself in this situation. Ali is an agrovet supplier based in Wajir Bor, Wajir County. Prior to this, he had been selling animal health inputs but his suppliers constantly sold him poor-quality drugs, which were sometimes counterfeited. This made him lose credibility amongst his customers.
For him to remain in business, Ali decided to make agrovet supplies one of his products. This essentially meant combining the sale of both human and animal inputs in one shop. Even though his business continued to run, it did not grow and this bothered him.
In 2014, through a radio advertisement sponsored by KMT, Ali got wind of an opportunity to become an agent for Wajir Agrovet. The package included training on animal health inputs, a guarantee of constant supply of quality affordable drugs and marketing. He felt like this was his golden opportunity.
Following the radio show, Ali joined other small agrovet owners in Wajir County for training sponsored by KMT on the use, administration and storage of animal health inputs, genuine drug and disease identification and reporting, and entrepreneurial skills. Armed with these new skills, Ali placed his first order of Kshs. 50,000.
With a growing business, Ali was obliged to restructure his shop in line with pharmaceutical requirements and in 2017, with the help of Wajir Agro vet Ali ensured his shelves clearly distinguish animal drugs from food and other products consumed by human beings. This new arrangement supported the growth of his business without interfering with its structure. Customers could easily identify his products.
Wajir Agrovet is a household name in animal health input supplies in Wajir County. Based on its strong brand positioning and reputation, it’s co-branding with Wajir Bor Agrovet guarantees affordable and consistent supply of quality drugs. Agents working with Wajir Agrovet also benefit from numerous marketing mentions on local radio programs. This has positively impacted on Wajir Bor Agrovet, now the major supplier of animal drugs within a radius of 150 kilometres, thus reaching thousands of rural pastoralists.
After several interactions with Wajir Agrovet, Ali negotiated excellent credit terms enabling him to access drugs for his store even without immediate payment. This has created a constant supply of animal health inputs for pastoralists in Wajir Bor. Ali simply places his order and sends money through mobile cash services and on the same day, he receives his supplies without having to travel. This saves him time and money and largely contributes to his favourable resale prices. Initially, pastoralists had to travel about 150 kilometres to Wajir town, to purchase animal drugs. They have often left to battle the challenge of identifying genuine suppliers and drugs and on numerous occasions ended up purchasing the wrong or counterfeited drugs. This meant massive losses of livestock to easily curable ailments. Currently, the pastoralists are not only able to access the drugs, they are also guaranteed of quality and are trained on basic drug administration and disease identification. Whenever there is drought and they have to move their animals in search of pasture and water, they still call Ali who delivers the drugs and, where necessary, administer them at their location.
Animal health has improved tremendously in Wajir Bor, leading to increased income for the pastoralists who only two years ago, fetched Kshs. 1,500 per goat. A Grade 1 goat fetches up to Kshs. 9,000 today. There is also a significant decline in the loss of animals to easily treatable ailments such as anthrax that could wipe out a herd in a flash.
Despite its rapid growth in the last few years, Ali’s business still has greater potential if he can deal with other existing challenges. He is dogged by huge transportation costs occasioned by the terrible road network. Also, during the drought season, he loses some customers because they migrate in search of pasture and water for their livestock. Depending on how long the drought runs, sometimes the drugs on his shelf expire, leading to losses. Inevitably, when the pastoralists return, some of the animals have been affected by new ailments that he may not be knowledgeable about. This creates area development partners, government and other stakeholders can still work on to lessen the gap that leads to loss of livestock and business.
With improved income for Ali and his family, he is able to take his children to school, feed his family and expand his business. He is now planning to start an additional shop in another part of Wajir Bor to improve his catchment area.