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Young Ones To Watch: Samuel Mungati, CEO & Founder of Farmers Pride

Mungati spoke with 1851 Franchise to discuss how he entered the franchise industry, what advice he has for up-and-coming business owners and more.

Growing up in a rural farm community in Kenya, Samuel Mungati saw local farmers struggling to access the basic resources they needed to run their businesses successfully. Even things as simple as fresh seeds and quality fertilizer were oftentimes hard to come by. So, with his entrepreneurial spirit and a commitment to social empowerment, Mungati founded Farmers Pride.

Farmers Pride is a social enterprise that creates an online-to-offline marketplace called DigiShop that connects village level Kenyan farmers with the resources and tools they need to operate a successful farming business. There, farmers connect with trustworthy and reliable agro-deals who create links to suppliers and help to diversify products. Mungati decided to franchise the concept to help more farmers and members of the community improve their quality of life. Now, Farmers Pride has empowered 22 rural farmers and 500 more have applied to become DigiShop franchisees.

1851 Franchise spoke with Mungati as part of our Young Ones to Watch series to learn more about his story.

1851 Franchise: How did you get into franchising?

Samuel Munguti: I started out in a different industry, working for some of the big brands in East Africa like L’Oreal. I wanted to make my contribution in the space of small companies in East Africa. I grew up in a rural farm community, so I knew farmers had limited access to the resources they needed and that became my driving force. In 2016 I wanted to take a break and focus on my MBA. I had a lot of free time, and to make use of that I started growing watermelon and tomatoes, getting hands-on experience in what millions of farmers do.

Fertilizer is hard to come by, and 98% of farmers face that. The biggest challenge that farmers face is that resources are poorly managed and merchandised. When you talk about farmers' access to these things you learn that much of it is the same. It’s poor quality, for example, I purchased expired seeds. I realized I had a lot of experience in being able to organize a system to bring farmers quality and freshness. The first stop was improving access to the products and what the store looks like. It’s amazing what happens when you have a clean and standard service. I realized this had a lot of potential and that's how we came up with Farmers Pride. We modernized farming and gave farmers the technology to manage their stores. We currently have 22 on board and over 500 farmers in the pipeline who have applied. 

1851: What do you love about the industry?

Mungati: In Kenya, businesses that end up in the franchise industry are businesses that want to solve social problems and challenges they see. Farmers Pride has the momentum and we sought out franchising as the business started shaping up. No one around us thought about using a franchise model to improve quality of life. Now, we ride on that platform and run on a more validated model and a more successful business. 

1851: What makes someone a good fit for the franchise industry? Are there traits that are shared by the most successful franchise professionals you know?

Mungati: When you talk about franchising you have to separate it from standardization and look at the values of the brand. For our model, it’s a value-judicious model. These franchisees customize their shops and create added value that we can introduce into our franchise model. Standardization is very key, especially in a value-driven business — the stronger the value the stronger the brand. 

1851: How do you feel the industry has changed over the years? 

Mungati: Compared to where we began five years back to where we are now, I don't know that anyone’s looking at the industry differently. Over the last 10–15 years the franchise model is one that’s still being introduced to Kenya. We have been able to scale Farmers Pride, and we’re leveraging the brand. I'm looking at things differently and finding ways to support and give fresh life and business opportunities to other businesses.

1851: What advice do you have for other young up-and-comers in the space?

Mungati: Franchising is a value and a standardized business space. Now customers can have the same expectations about the quality of their produce that these farmers are looking to share. The stronger the standard, the stronger the brand. We are talking about driving business and solutions, more value, more efficiency and leveraging technology. You are building a very unique technology and foundation toward solutions.