There are hundreds of books on airport shop shelves about Business plans; this is not one of them.
This outline of a business plan, was thrashed out with the help of subsistence farmers in villages in Ecaiweni and Sonda (seven villages in all) with a view to introducing business practices and a micro credit scheme.
It is difficult to believe what destitute, illiterate women, mostly widows, and a few good men can come up with, under suitable conditions, sitting on the ground in fields, miles from nowhere and centuries from the developed world.
This, of course is a plan, which in my world out there is always a work in progress, which will be adjusted as the need arises. It has only provided us with a starting point.
With my help they will adjust and mould it to fit their needs. (Too often in Malawi everything is adjusted to fit THE PLAN). It may fail at the beginning, so we will learn by doing and learn and learn
The determination of these women, most of whom have never had money, will drive the process, with the help of their progressive village headmen. What they achieved in three weeks has amazed me. They don’t want to be hungry again. They have a dream and I hope that with a little help from their friends, we can fulfil it.
Please Note: My descriptions as poor or illiterate refer only to the accident of birth they have to endure. These people are bright, intelligent, strong and spirited and I love to be with them.
Business Loans for poor farmers (and others)
What’s our Business
It is an activity designed specifically to make profit, money, cash or Kwachas
It is not to produce for consumption, or for pleasure even though these may be the result
It is a full time job involving constant focus, concentration and thought.
It involves taking risks, sometimes with little reward, so you need to be prudent.
(Crops can fail, pests can come, chickens can die)
You need to plan carefully.
Planning takes time, but do it carefully
You need to always look at the bottom line, the profit. We will advise on risks as we see them.
If you are not capable of doing this, you should work for someone else.
If you have your own money to invest, then you can waste or loose it if you wish.
If you have to borrow then it’s a different story.
If you are lucky enough to get a loan: YOU HAVE TO PAY IT BACK (maybe with interest)
Loans and Banking
If you have an idea for business, which needs a loan, then you need a banker.
In business your banker can be your most important ally. He can make or break you.
Building a good relationship with him is vital to your success. If you pay back in full and on time, your credit rating will improve and you’ll get another loan
A banker will need a business plan.
This is not a statement like “I want to have chickens or mice or carrots”, but a well thought out idea of what you are going to do.
A plan is a step by step journey into the imaginary future. It involves what may happen (you think), in what order and what resources you will need.
If it is the growing of lettuce you must ask
Do I have the land
What area do I need e.g. 400 sq m.
Does it have a water supply, will I need the use of a treadle pump, or a dam?
Can I afford fertiliser, to which the answer is no, Can I learn how to dig-in and make compost, to which the answer is yes.
Can I buy manure for the compost and can I transport it
Do I have the tools I need, Do I have to buy or can I borrow
You then need to put a cost on all your requirements. The full cost exactly. If you seek too little, your business may fail. If you exaggerate, you may not get the loan.
Bankers are not stupid, they should know costs, profit potential and risks.
Trying to cheat may lose you your chance. Honesty is wonderful but not common.
Keep records and learn the cost and value of various crops.
A market for your product is the most important thing.
A better price can be got by bringing produce to market instead of selling
to traders in the field. They may cheat you if you don’t know the worth of your produce.
There is no point in producing something which no one will buy. So don’t sow peas just because you like the colour!!.
Having produce when it is scarce can be rewarding , so plan when to sow.
You need to find good customers who will pay a fair price. They exist and should be found. Find out what they want and produce it. Happy customers are good for business
Your produce must be good quality and dependable. If you promise, you must deliver, even if it costs you.
Good customers are the key to success
A Wells for Zoë Business Loan
Each loan proposal must have a fully timed and costed plan. We can help with planning
Maximum Loan to individual in co op is 4000MKw at 0% interest (24% if not used as agreed or 2% per month)
Maximum term 4 months (Chickens 7 weeks), if you exceed this time interest is charged at 24% (2% per month)
All members of the co op take responsibility for repaying all loans.
All loan recipients must be digging – in and composting as a farming practice
Those getting loans for chickens must be sowing soya.
Compost bin or heap must be in place before the loan issues.
Each loan repayment must include 25 kg of compost. (or some other quantity to be agreed).
No additional loans considered until current one repaid.
No advances ever considered. If you plan diligently this should not arise