Tanzania: Maize trading changes Iringa farmer’s fortunes

Tanzania: Maize trading changes Iringa farmer’s fortunes

Iringa — If you ask successful businesspersons about their journey to success, everyone will give you his/her own interesting story.

Some will tell you about how they struggled through ups and downs for many years while others will tell you about their less stressful ascendancy in business.

Currently, for those who want to do business, capital is one of the major challenges. However, those who have already made it to the top say capital was not their biggest obstacle.

“Determination, hard work and trust are among the things that should be considered by whoever wants to venture into business. Whether it be small, medium or large,” says Mr Atanas Paulo Kipeto, who is one of the successful maize traders based in Iringa.

He shared his story to BusinessWeek recently on how he started his business with a small capital of Sh42,000 in 1995, before turning it into a multimillion shilling activity in just two decades.

Speaking to BusinessWeek in Iringa recently, Mr Kipeto, who in his mid-40s, said after his primary school education in the late 1980s, he was not selected to continue with secondary education.

“My plans were to start my own business and that is exactly what I did two years later,” simple-looking Mr Kipeto said at his office, which is located near Ipogolo Bus Terminal in Iringa Municipal.

He said after completion of his primary education, he started cultivating maize for two years. He retained part of the produce for food and sold the surplus to the local market.

Mr Kipeto said two years later, he managed to raise a Sh42,000 capital, which he used to buy maize from neighbouring villages and transported it to various semi-urban markets where he sold at a relatively higher price.

“I started by purchasing seven 100-kilo bags of maize at Sh6,000. I sold the maize at high retail and wholesale markets, where I generated a small profit,” he said.

He said he sold the bags of maize at Sh10,000, which generated a profit of Sh2,500.

“I used the small profit to expand my business until 2002 when I decided to add value into my maize business,” he explained.

Mr Kipeto said in 2002 he purchased a small milling machine and started milling his own maize as well as that purchased from the villagers.

“I started producing maize flour, which I sold in Iringa town and other markets in neighbouring villages,” he said. Six years later, in 2008, Mr Kipeto said he started building relations with maize farmers in Kilolo District, which made it easy to get sufficient maize to feed his milling machine.