Meseret Poultry & Agro Industry: Aiming to become the premier poultry products provider in Ethiopia
Meseret Poultry & Agro Industry has been engaged in the poultry business since 2014. When Owner Meseret Desalegn realized there was a need for intervention from both the supply and demand side of the business, she sought support from Invest for Jobs, an initiative of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), which is implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH among others. Invest for Jobs was instrumental in helping her to scale up her business and provide vital training to best manage it. Meseret also participated in the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) government programme offering securing of working premises, creating a separate company line and licence to become an SME partnership together with new shareholders.
Please introduce yourself.
My name is Meseret Desalegn and I am the founder and CEO of Meseret Poultry & Agro Industry. I have over 23 years of experience in the agricultural sector, nine of which I spent dealing with poultry and animal feeds. I used to operate as a re-seller, raising chicks to sell their meat or to produce eggs. Downsides included maintaining quality control. The biggest handicap, however, was being dependent on other companies for fundamental goods like chicks and feed. The animal feed quality was not controlled which had a negative impact as the amount of eggs laid varied.
What does Meseret Poultry and Animal Feeding do and produce?
We raise chicks to produce eggs or chickens to be sold for their meat. The various products that I offer are:
- Animal feed (for sales and in-house)
- Chicken meat
- Cow’s milk
Can you describe hardships faced trying to grow your company?
When I first started, the company was small, and everything ran smoothly. It’s only when I started growing the business that I noticed there were issues. First was a management problem, as I had no help and struggled to keep track of everything. There was no inventory system for the 13 types of raw materials, and I had no clear record of what was going in and coming out of the storage room. This affected the financial aspect of my business. I couldn’t make a distinction between my private and business accounts which affected profits and I didn’t know what my expenses were. Linked to this I didn’t do any market research to study the different prices nor did I have any adequate marketing system in place. With COVID-19; quarantine decreased the demand for chicken, so I had to sell my chickens cheaper. Since I depended on other companies for animal feed it was no longer profitable to raise chicks. I also had to reduce the number of employees from seven to three and closed my second store. When all these things happened, I sought out the help of Invest for Jobs.
Can you highlight partners who have supported you in developing your company’s capacities?
Invest for Jobs advised me in numerous ways: First, I hired a management consultant who helped me devise a clear organisational structure, hire the necessary people and provided new techniques for storeroom management. I then hired a financial consultant who explained me how to officially maintain records to keep my private and business accounts separate and how to conduct market research. He taught me all about paperwork and proper formatting like weekly and monthly reports and how to generate a five-year financial plan. With the help of Invest for Jobs and the consultant, I was able to implement a proper financial system and manual for my business. A marketing consultant was also engaged to teach best marketing practices; how to assess marketing needs and improvements. Next was to explain how to correctly conduct market research to find the right target market and understanding the needs of clients; learning about packaging and appropriate colours to raise awareness for the product and how to access the selected target markets. We also redesigned the company logo. Thanks to advice and support of the consultants and Invest, I now have a professional and devoted marketing and sales team for my company. With financial support of Invest for Jobs (via consultants of the firm sequa gGmbH), I purchased the necessary machine to produce my own animal feed. This enables checking and maintaining quality of animal feed produced and the right formula and portion control for the animal feed.
Thanks to the intervention of Invest for Jobs at the critical time, I was able to save my company and even to reopen my closed Debre Zeit store and hire more employees.
How does your company give back to society?
My company gives back by creating jobs – this also corresponds to the development objective of Invest for Jobs. I have about 12 employees now, but I am expanding my business which means more employees will be hired.
About 15 contract workers are needed to unload the raw materials when they arrive on site. These people will be considered for future positions as I expand. A great example for the development of an employee would be Desalegn Behonegn who started off as someone who unloaded raw material but now is currently in charge of operating the machinery, checking/replenishing raw materials and ensuring quality goods are provided to the customers. All the products used are also eco-friendly and don’t contribute to pollution.
What is the next big move for your company?
Currently, I have two branches: one in charge of producing the animal feed and the other handles the livestock. I plan on expanding my business and my main goal is to be the number one animal feed and poultry products provider in Ethiopia and then Africa. My goal is to have 5,000-10,000 chicks and to produce as many eggs.
About Invest for Jobs
Under the Invest for Jobs brand, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has put together a package of measures to support German, European and African companies in investment activities that have a high impact on employment in Africa.
The Special Initiative on Training and Job Creation – the official title – offers comprehensive advice, contacts and financial support to overcome investment barriers. The development objective is to team up with companies to create good jobs and training opportunities in the partner countries, of which there are currently eight, and to preserve them during the Covid-19 pandemic. The aim is also to improve local working conditions.
The Special Initiative is implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and sequa gGmbH among others. For further information, click on the link to the Invest for Jobs website below.
Author: Arabella Stewart Photographer: ©GIZ/Digital Birhan Publishing date: 26.01.2022