Lost over $350,000 of our financiers money in a crowd-farming venture … and they’re on our backs.

In 2016, immediately after graduation, we co-founded a crowd-farming venture with my classmate and friend.

The idea was to raise cash from friends in cities around Kenya, farm with it and then share profits after harvest. When we started in 2016, it all went well, we did large scale potatoes and peas. In 2017 the year of election in Kenya, we took a risk to do more acreage since most people had backed down in fear of post-election violence (this is Kenya).

We put in all our efforts, raised a lot of money and did what we could but then, things went sideways. In the months leading to the elections, the economy was in a spiral and farm product prices plunged.  It was time to pay our investors/financiers their money plus the interest we had guaranteed, but the prices were bad, but we thought things would be better after the elections. We ended up raising more money to pay our investors and left the crops on the farm waiting for prices to hike after the election.

Things went sideways again.

The presidential election was nullified and that put the situation in more of a mess — buyers were nowhere to be found. We suffered a serious blow, trying to counter the loss, we went into seeking more financing to take advantage of producing at the offpeak irrigation season from Nov 2017 – May 2018

We invested in irrigation equipment and started working and planting mid-Jan … then the worst and most unexpected thing happened.

It started raining in February, something that had never happened, and it rained for 45 days continuous — stopped for 10 days and then continued for the next 19 days. We lost over 70 acres of peas and had zero output … the rest of  2018 we made some money but couldn’t pay off the losses. By December 2018 we were dry … $300,000 in debt, with financiers breathing down our neck.

To try to raise money as fast as we could, we pivoted from farming to online/offline distribution of fashion in Kenya. We take orders from customers in rural shops then deliver to them in wholesale. Three months into it and we are making good progress but with limited financing and resources, it’s hell. Financiers are not agreeing to our temporary payment plan. We are constantly on calls, constantly selling, we are up and down, taking orders, delivering orders, taking threats, explaining the situation, dealing with breakdown … it’s hell.

I need help! I’m breaking from within.

  • Why haven’t you hedged the price of any of your crops?

    If you have $x invested into your crops, and you can resonably expect Y amount of harvest (make this very conservative) at $z cost; simply hedge your future crop production and you have secured your profit.

    Then it will not matter what the price is when you’re ready to sell, as you’ve already secured the price.

    I’m surprised people gave you money to do this, without having knowledge of farming markets.

  • Are your investors coming to you with a gun, or are they threatening legal actions, or are they just a nuisance ? Are you personally liable, or is the worst case just chapter 11 ? Did you lie to the investors ? – Maybe you should just have a newsletter for them and report to them very much on time at the 1st of every month (or even weekly ?), what honestly is the current situation, what is the progress and the setbacks of the last month. – Do not hide from your investors, but also make clear that 3 hours phonecalls just keep you away from working and from recovering from the loss.

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