After completing his university studies in 2017, Regis Niyonkuru resolved to start his own business.
The twenty-seven year old had just graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from University of Rwanda-Huye Campus.
He had done a study on the products on demand in the country.
Chicks at Niyonkuru’s home in Kigali. Photos by Lydia Atieno.
“While in my second year at the university, I carried out a small research basically on demands and supply of certain foods and came to realize that the supply of chicken and eggs were low compared to their demand, he said.
This, he said, prompted him to venture into poultry raising and consultancy.
Niyonkuru with some of the chicken he rears.
The young entrepreneur also cited that at the same time, he wanted to start an enterprise that won’t cost him an arm and a leg to venture into it.
Starting from scratch
Niyonkuru’s mother, who is also a widow, was a tomato vendor, after his dad passed on, things were not easy especially providing for the entire family.
Being a first born in a family of five children, he saw the struggle his family went through, especially his mother to educate them, leave alone putting food on the table.
Some of the eggs ready for distribution to difrent consumers.
“Vending tomatoes was hectic for my mother, at the same time she had to take care of the family, the struggle was real and after my university studies, I wanted to do something that will see us better financially,” he narrated.
When he started poultry, he said it was a relief to the mother as her together with his siblings now help out in rearing the chicken, the thing she does at ease.
With a capital of only Rwf200,000, Niyonkuru bought 120 chicks, started rearing them at his home in Ndera, Kigali. Little did he know that the business will turn out to be a cash cow, providing a steady income to his entire family.
Normally, his poultry raising is based on Kuroilers chickens breed from India.
These are dual-purpose breed suitable for both meat and egg production, they are economical breed, and can live eating the kitchen and agricultural waste.
The breed is also resistant to diseases compared to ordinary broilers, it’s cheap to raise more than others and it’s more of traditional Rwandan chickens.
With the company name known as Mr. Chicken, Niyonkuru rare chicken and supply them to different consumers across the country.
Apart from that, Niyonkuru also trains other entrepreneurs who are passionate about doing poultry.
“Basically, I train them on how to build their capacity on the business and how it works focusing on how it can be profitable at the same time,” he says.
Previously, Niyonkuru used to only operate in Kigali but he has since expanded to Kayonza and Rubavu Districts as well.
Besides, he has managed to train more than 200 other young and passionate entrepreneurs, providing theoretical and practical skills on poultry.
“After the training, some youth will be given 1,000 chickens to start rearing with the aim of helping them create their own jobs,” he says.
The entrepreneur has attended some exhibitions including Agrishow last year and this year, where he became a best youth exhibitor in 2018.
Last year, he presented his business at Youth Connekt Award and emerged second best in Kigali City.
Apart from just helping the family with income generating, the business has also ensured that Niyonkuru’s family if provided with manure, which is collected from the chicken coop.
He said that since they grow bananas and cassava at his home, the manure and husks put inside the chicken coop are used as manure to the crops.
He has eight permanent workers with others working on a casual basis.
Niyonkuru now has more than 4,000 thousand chicken, earning an average of Rwf 500,000 as profit per month.
According to him, there is a high cost of production from high prices of feeding the poultry, which is caused by high prices of ingredients used to produce the feeds.
Another hurdle he says there are limited skills on how chickens are treated.
Niyonkuru added that there is a need for the participation of Government through the Ministry of Agriculture in raising this particular breed and how to improve the poultry sector in general.
For the advice, he urged youth to develop a culture of working, change their mindset about looking for jobs and start creating some instead.