GrowPact Ltd is an agribusiness company based in Kitale and a leading producer and supplier of high-quality seedlings in Kenya. GrowPact’s scope of production ranges from vegetable seedlings (tomato, cabbage, onion, garlic, kales, capsicum, courgette, eggplant etc.), fruit seedlings (watermelon, avocado, mango, passion fruits, pawpaw, oranges, lime, lemon etc.), herbs (stevia, rosemary, mint, basil, pepper, thyme, celery etc.) and other orphaned crops (like sweet potato and cassava). The company produces more than 500,000 seedlings per week.
GrowPact also provides technical training on site to farmers where technical knowledge needed to grow healthy crops is disseminated. This includes training on good farming practices, varietal selection among many other topics. The company guarantees farmers a good start which translates to a great finish.
Joshua Mugendi is the co-founder and director of Growpact, a Kenyan-based agritech company that provides high-quality seedlings to farmers. He is a bio-technologist with a PhD in Biotechnology from the Kenyatta University. He is also a passionate advocate for sustainable agriculture. He was previously working with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture as a research geneticist when he first interacted with a seed system that included quality planting material and seed management. This drove Dr. Mugendi to generate ideas of contributing to the Kenyan seed system, and with his wife, Maicy, left their respective careers to establish their first venture in Kitale. In his own words, the first seed propagation venture was a successful failure as neither he or his wife knew how to grow a good seedling, especially a vegetable seedling and they would lose all their savings in the failed business. Armed with willpower to learn from their mistake, in early 2016, they would start GrowPact Kitale and find a funding partner in Truvalu and have since maintained the philosophy of learning from mistakes. Joshua believes “we choose to learn what we did wrong and see where we can improve on.”
Maicy Mugendi, is the co-founder and CEO of GrowPact. Mercy did Mathematics and Computer Science in her Undergraduate and has a Masters in Applied Statistics. Maicy’s vision is to see small and middle scale farmers succeed by focussing on the best start for a plant and substantially reducing losses handled by individual farmers. This to ensure that they can provide sources of livelihoods. Maicy envisages a time that agriculture becomes a viable and attractive sector for the younger generations. This can be achieved by eradicating losses and improving quality and efficiency from production to sales. An appreciation for farming means profitability, better living conditions, better crop production thus better fruit and a healthier community. It also means protection of the environment by taking care of the soil and thus taking care of generations to come. All this is the mission of GrowPact.
People: GrowPact currently supplies high-quality agri-inputs to over 5,000 smallholder farmers resulting in higher yields. 65% of the smallholder farmers GrowPact is selling to are female, clearly contributing to SDG 5. The company is further training smallholder farmers in sustainable agricultural practices. GrowPact currently employs around 25 permanent employees (SDG 8).
Planet: The East African region, like most of Sub-Saharan Africa, is prone to severe threats to food systems. GrowPact champions good farming practices aimed at improving yields (SDG 12). The provision of quality, healthy and disease free seedlings enables farmers to easily adopt sustainable farming practices which increases farmers yields and mitigates land overutilization practices. From this, combined with GrowPact’s on-site training to farmers has a significant impact on the environment and preservation of soil fertility in Kenya (SDG 13).
Profit: GrowPact has diversified its income streams through providing a large variety of seedlings and related services. GrowPact offers favorable prices for seedlings in relation to the market rates, excellent customer service and support that is focused on customer retention and positive referrals and implements a follow-up and feedback plan with seed and fertilizer companies. Growpact’s revenues continue to grow thanks to the implementation of smart-tech solutions developed by its long term partner Viscon.
Maicy Mugendi woke up feeling disconcerted and convinced that she had to do something with the conversation she had that day before with the farmers. The issue was that farmers did not get enough yield from their farming activity while for many countries, including Kenya, farming is the main tool to provide for their families. From their discussion in a board meeting for the God Bless You Homes Foundation, the problems in farming were clear: a bad start, a poor foundation and poor activities to take care of the crop from the beginning. Maicy Mugendi and her partner in life and business, Dr. Joshua Mugendi, started GrowPact to bridge this gap building on the mantra ‘Good Start, Great Finish’.
GrowPact has entered into a long term partnership with a reputable Dutch Factory Automation Company called Viscon who offers smartified agritech solutions applicable to the Kenyan context. Truvalu has helped Maicy and her husband with capital and business development support. From startup in 2017, the company now has matured to a business supplying and supporting almost 5,000 farmers, while significant further growth in impact and economic results is expected for the coming years.
GrowPact’s mission is to enhance the profitability of its customers’ farming enterprises by providing high quality, fast growing and high yielding seedlings while their vision is to be the most sought-after producer and supplier of seedlings in Kenya and the East Africa region.
GrowPact targets by 2026 to supply over 10,000 agri-inputs per year to smallholder farmers, and provide training to 25,000 smallholder farmers through regular field days and partnering with local education institutions and groups for occasional site visits. GrowPact has also ventured into tissue culture.
Tissue culture allows GrowPact to produce a high number of high-quality and sterilized plantlets that can be easily distributed through the country and even beyond. In the same lab, the company will introduce soil testing and virus indexing to the agriculture sector of Kenya, setting the stage for new data solution services offered by GrowPact and enhanced regenerative agriculture available to farmers. When successful, GrowPact will have contributed to food resilience in the Kenyan agricultural sector.
Further as technology introduces new ways of seed propagation, GrowPact begins its new pursuit to widen its social impact through its own GrowPact Academy that would enhance the skills of smallholder farmers throughout East Africa and potentially build domestic value chains and reduce import dependency for disease free seedlings. By this, the cost of domestic production is likely to come down, lowering the agricultural sector’s barriers to entry. Together with implementation of more technology this will translate into job creation for future young farmers. GrowPact will have the distinct advantage of tried and proven seed management systems readily taught on farms to current and potential smallholder farmers.
The GrowPact Academy has the potential to grow to a reputable institution on agricultural practices in Kenya and provide an accredited Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) program. The Academy has begun proving synergies between hands-on learning experience on farms and partnerships with the Bukura Agricultural Colleg among many other institutions of higher education, to inspire youth to embrace a professional and studied approach to farming in the region.
The challenges GrowPact is faced with are related to:
The solution provided by Truvalu: