Tell us about Kilimo Iot.
Started in 2020, Kilimo IoT is an Internet of things (IoT) company focused on revolutionising the agriculture industry.
We focus on cutting edge farming technologies and techniques such as greenhouses, hydroponics and aeroponics, building sensors and systems to aid these techniques.
The company was started by Njirani Nganga and Benedict Odoom. Njiraini has a background in IoT and has a keen interest in transforming the agricultural sector. Benedict is a software expert who has built enterprise level software, deployed around the world for various industries. The 2 came together in 2018 to discuss and formulate plans and ideas on what the best solutions might be for the agricultural sector and in January 2020, the company was born. Kilimo means “agriculture” in Swahili. Benedict now runs the company with Njiraini focusing on other ventures.
Why did you join the Barclays Black Founder Accelerator?
I joined the Barclays Black Founder programme in order to increase my knowledge on how to build and grow a successful business and to gain the right kind of coaching and mentoring. I would also like to be a role model and example to other young black entreprenuers who are yet to take the leap.
What would be your desired outcome from this programme?
To gain invaluable knowledge from experienced coaches and mentors to help grow my business and to expand my network.
Which entrepreneur inspires you the most and why?
An entrepreneur who inspires me is Kevin Okyere. He inspires me because, although he was born in to a rich family, he determined to carve his own way, starting out at a young age by selling iced water at football matches in his home city Kumasi, Ghana. He has been able to build and grow his businesses by making smart decisions at each point, increasing value on whatever he does. He is the founder and C.E.O. of a billion dollar energy company in Ghana called Springfield Group.
What has been your biggest win in your entrepreneurial journey?
One of my biggest wins is the day I hired my first employee. It helped cement the fact that I had a viable business and that there is potential for growth.
And your biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge has been in the area of building capacity and access to funds.
Where did you go for business advice and how did it help you?
My main sources of advice has been online through google and youtube. These have helped me gain different perspectives from various business coaches which has helped me develop myself and my business.
What drives you to make your business a success?
What drives me to make my business a success is in knowing that the products and services we provide can make a real difference and bring high value impact for the end user. This helps me to ensure that the product is competitive in every way but also highly usable.
What advice would you give other founders thinking about starting their own business?
The advice I would give other founders is to not be afraid to make the first move. This is because I believe taking that first step opens up other opportunities and avenues for you to grow, learn and keep refining what you want to offer the world.
Why did you want to start your business?
I wanted to start my business because, as a software engineer, I have a passion for creating solutions that are useful in real life, solving reali life problems. This business allows my to develop a system that has the capacity to revolutionise the way the agricultural industry operates by creating a system that is able to improve yields, reduce waste and environmental impact, among many other benefits.
What do you do to relax when not working?
I am an avid keyboardist and I play with my church choir. In my spare time, I like to relax behind the piano. I also find spending time with my 2 little girls a blessing.
How has covid made you pivot your business?
Before COVID, we had a high reliance on external suppliers to provide sensors and other components which we require for our system. However, due to COVID, we have decided to bring the production of these sensors inhouse. We have also branched out into app development services to provide another revenue source for the business.