The first customer. The first delivery. The first revenue. The Excitement!!
If you’ve ever tasted defeat, victory tastes so yummy. Coming from a failed startup (Swappaholics), thoughts of how we hustled for customers and for investors was still very fresh in our minds when we decided to dive knee deep into another startup in a surprisingly new industry — agriculture. AgroCenta was born but this time we were super resolved not to have a second failed startup.
AgroCenta’s biggest agenda is to ensure smallholder farmers have access to a large enough market to sell their commodities. This translates into the farmers being liquid enough to enhance their lives as well as re-invest into their farms, resulting in better yields come the next farming season. Our customers however, are not the farmers but the off-takers who pay for these commodities. Right from day one we decided to go after buyers that had huge demands for the commodities (Maize, Sorghum, Millet, Rice, Soyabeans) we dealt in and not the small scale buyers. Boy did we have some tough times.
After several emails, phone calls, Uber and/or trotro (public transport) rides to meetings, we got some positive feedback — a list of standards our commodities had to meet — not a contract. Following this we had to make countless trips to the Brong Ahafo, Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions of Ghana to inspect our farmers commodities and measure them against the standards and also send samples to our potential buyer for testing. Once our commodities passed the standards, we got a second set of requirements, these were more of paper work requirements, loads of them. It took close to a month chasing our beloved government institutions for these documents amidst a lot of back and forths. After many more emails and phone calls we FINALLY got a signed purchase order for us to supply. We had never read the same document so many times in an hour like we did on this day. Our first customer. Our first request to supply Maize (and it was a large order). Excitement was not what we were feeling — it is something else we cannot explain.
You know what they say about first impressions. We had to ensure our first supply was on point. No glitches, no delays, no disappointment. We packed our bags again and headed up north to be with the farmers while the show was going down. We trust them to always do a good job but no one ever said double checking was a bad thing.
After a good 3 weeks of putting it all together, today we watched our first truck arrive at the client’s premises with commodities belonging to farmers whose lives have been and will further be enhanced because we made our first revenue. Here is to all who have supported AgroCenta on its journey so far. To those who took big risks because they had faith in us. 🍻 There are bigger hurdles ahead but we know surmounting them will result in better days. Today we are super elated.