Musa Sanu-Konteh, called “Sanu”, is a cheerful entrepreneur that runs a national commercial maize farm in Makeni called VES Maize Production and Marketing Enterprise that cultivates improved and processed maize for Sierra Leoneans. Its maize fields are in Safroko Limba and Paki Masabong chiefdoms in Bombali district.
With the determination and passion to seek for more opportunities and prepare to meet the demands of the global business and management landscape, Sanu decided to enroll into the 2nd edition of E4Impact MBA at University of Makeni.
“We want to become one of the leading commercial maize enterprise and maize processing and packing brand in Sierra Leone. We want our well-packaged maize to flood every nooks and crannies of the Country.” he said ” I’ve enrolled in the E4Impact MBA to build on my entrepreneurial and management skills, to standardize research and development capacity and to create better linkages and opportunities in the business world.”
Since 2013, Sanu has been supporting youth and farming groups to cultivate maize and link them to agencies and potential maize consumers within Bombali district. In the upcoming planting seasons, VES Maize Production and Marketing Enterprise is determined to invest in cultivating over 50 hectares of maize farm in Bombali district. This venture will bring on board and support over 100 youths within the production landscape. But let’s learn more about it!
1.How was your Business Idea born?
VES Maize Production and Marketing Enterprise was born in 2016. Since its establishment, the farm has carried out detailed market research and feasibility studies and have been abled to clearly understand the pain poultry farms in Sierra Leone are undergoing. They perish because of in-adequate supply of Maize. Therefore, VES Maize Production and Marketing Enterprise has resulted to help provide improved maize variety with affordable price, stable supply, punctual transaction and good reputation to poultry farmers in Bombali, Port-Loko, Moyamba and Western Area districts in Sierra Leone.
2.How can your business improve the life of the beneficiaries of your activities?
VES Maize production and Marketing Enterprise strives to empower and install confidence, hope and wish for self-development as well as creating employment for 30 youths in the communities where we operate and beyond. It also contributes in reducing crimes associated with youth unemployment and frustration in these communities and the country in general. My business also contributes directly and indirectly to poultry feed nutrition, household nutrition and social obligations.
“We contribute in reducing crimes associated with youth unemployment and frustration
in these communities and the country in general”
3.What has been the main challenge you had to overcome in your entrepreneurial experience?
There are few internal competitors in the local production sector. The farmers across Sierra Leone are trying but lack interest in extensive investment and cultivation of maize. Having said that, fierce competition comes from importers of poultry feed products. Poultry Feed, drugs and equipments are mostly imported. Feed cost, rises as foreign exchange rate rises. Over 60% of the production cost can be produced locally. The growing of maize as animal feed crop is towards that direction. Farming groups and communities put less premium on maize production. Rather their concentration is levied on rice cultivation; therefore, mobilizing them on board maize cultivation seemed as something of time and energy wasting. The risk of theft and destruction by other predators are eminent. To minimize this risk special securities and farm monitors should be put in place.
The availability to secure the right varieties of maize for farming is another barrier that always needs to be overcome. However, the best maize varieties grow fast, is high yielding, mature earlier than the local varieties and are resistant to major pests and diseases. To overcome this, VES works closely with the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Food Security (MAFFS) and the Sierra Leone Agricultural Research Institute (SLARI). These two institutions help to provide technical supervision and coaching as well as make right decision on the type of variety that is of high quality and less succeptible to diseases.
Finally, due to the increasing cost of inorganic fertilizer that poses a big challenge and barrier to maize farming. VES Maize also work with the MAFFS to secure inorganic fertilizer. This is a big boost to our farming activites this year. In addition, VES Maize partner with some poultry farms to secure poultry manure (organic manure), this also contributes greatly in the cultivation to strengthen and increase productivity.
4.What would you suggest to a new-born entrepreneur?
He/She needs to be creative, self determined, with the correct leadership skills and should clearly understand the type of business to undertake. He/She has to do the needful market study as well as define the appropriate customer profile. Been able to mobilize resources (finance and right personnel) is also fundamental.
5.Could you tell us a particular satisfactory moment you had in your entrepreneurial activity?
I had a few. One was the day I won the Business Idea Competition at the MBA Class of 2016/2017. Another is when I breakeven and started realizing the profit from the return on investment from my business.
6.Could you tell how the MBA has helped you and your business?
The Global Executive MBA in Impact Entrepreneurship is unique and exceptional to Sierra Leone learning institutions. Unlike other MBA programs offered in country, this one prepares, train and market impact Sierra Leone entrepreneurs within and beyond Sierra Leone. The program is not only adding knowledge to entrepreneurs, but favouring the formation of impact entrepreneur and sustainable growth of their businesses and thus contributes to the development of the economies of the nation.
As an entreprenuer and MBA awaiting, the program has meaningfully contributed and added value to my entrepreneurial skills and management knowledge. As a novice to business law and financial management techniques, the MBA program has fixed that up for me. In addition, now I can stand tall in the following entrepreneurial cycle:
- A solid market analyst
- Sound Collaborative Skills and open minded
- Competitive and determine
- Basic Entreprenuerial financial backgroud
- Creative and Strong work ethic with correct Leadership skills
- Resource mobilization to start a new business, scale an existing one, explore a new market for a product
Finally, return on investment in each of my businesses is clearly realized and profitably documented.