Livestock Bank aims to share animals with farmers and to provide everything they need to raise livestock in quality and quantity.
Name: Livestock Bank
Location: Kigali, Rwanda
Product / Service Offering: Livestock Farming
Co-founder Interviewed: Hervé Tuyishime
Other Key Management Team Members:
This article is part of our Business Startup Spotlight series featuring entrepreneurs and their companies. We hope that these founders’ interviews will inspire and motivate you as you undertake your own entrepreneurial journey.
Tell us a little about yourself with a focus on what motivates you.
I am a college graduate, living in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital. Four years ago I started a business in meat processing. This led to the discovery of how much potential livestock farming has in my country. I also discovered how much farmers were struggling to farm in quality and quantity. Many of my fellow Rwandans are farmers. In 2016, I became a farmer too.
When did you establish your company and where did the idea originate?
I established Livestock Bank in May 2016. The idea started in 2014, after realizing how much farmers struggle due to the lack of resources. They cannot invest significantly in their farms.
Key to Startup Success: Customer Discovery
We aim to share animals with farmers and to provide everything they need to raise quality livestock in larger quantities. In the meat processing sector, I’ve become a good buyer of their livestock. I knew the potential in meat processing and farming itself. After seeing all those struggling small farmers, the idea of starting Livestock Bank began.
What need or needs does your company seek to fill for its customers?
Livestock Barn’s business model works well in a country like Rwanda. Most farmers cannot afford to raise animals, since there is not enough land for everyone who wants to farm. Farmers do not have easy access to the fair market price for their livestock. We provide inputs and resource facilitation to farmers (best animal breeds, animal feeds, veterinary services and medicines). Livestock Bank takes care of sales for them also, providing a sustainable source of income. It also provides a sustainable and steady, high quantity supply to meat processors.
We provide one of the best ways to formalize the meat value in many of the countries lacking infrastructure and provide steady market policies in the meat and agribusiness sectors.
What is the one thing that sets your company apart from its competitors?
Livestock Bank is a partner to farmers. We help them to have everything they need to make their farming successful. After they are ready for market, they do not need to invest anything except their time and effort.
With Livestock Bank, a farmer has more than one option. A farmer can sell, deposit or invest their livestock with us. We also facilitate other services, such as, a mobile phone, Biogas at home, and small loans at their financial institutions for education and shelter construction.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while getting your company up and running, and how did you overcome it?
The challenge we face is managing the high demand of farmers who are interested in working with us. We are experiencing 2X of the demand we expected. We’ve also had to establish some policies of recruitment, which helps select qualified farmers.
Are there resources you have utilized that other founders might find compelling or useful?
We work with small farmers directly and listen to them. There is no intermediary person or organization between farmers and Livestock Bank.
What steps have you taken to secure funding for your company and what, if anything, would you do differently if you had to start over?
For two months I worked on the documents to present to Fledge. I refined my business idea with different international mentors from different countries in the world.
What challenges, if any, are you grappling with?
The challenges are climate, bad quality of medicines, fewer meat sectors in African countries, and a steady meat market.
What is the most helpful tip or “hack” you’ve ever learned, stumbled across, or been given?
I learned to start small and grow. The foundation of every company is sustainability. You face challenges when your company is in the early stages. As you grow, you gain the experience needed to solve any issue that comes your way.
Early Stage – Startup Funding Life Cycle
Is there anything else you would like to share about your company?
Livestock Bank wants to expand our working territories from Rwanda to Benin, Ghana, Malawi, Congo Brazzaville and Kenya. In the next ten years, we will be able to formalize the meat market and value chain in Africa.
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