Lucy Katap Lemantile, a community animal health worker in Oldonyiro, Kenya, opened her agrovet shop in 2011 to serve neighboring livestock farmers. At first, she struggled to supply her shop and her customers.
“I… had to travel for many kilometers to get my products from various suppliers,” Lemantile said.
Lemantile had limited knowledge about managing a sustainable animal health drug supply. In addition, she lacked dependable and regular suppliers in her area. Because of this, Lemantile spent a great deal of time going from one supplier to another to procure products. Sometimes she ran out of stock or ordered incorrect products.
But after applying a new, customer-oriented service model to her agrovet shop, Lemantile greatly expanded her customer base and saw her revenues grow significantly. She learned about the model through the Resilience and Economic Growth in the Arid Lands-Accelerated Growth project.
“Since I adopted the customer-oriented model, my business profit margins have tremendously increased, as I am able to reach more herd owners on market days,” Lemantile said.
USAID Project Helps Value Chain Actors Build Capacity
Funded by USAID and implemented by ACDI/VOCA, the Resilience and Economic Growth in the Arid Lands-Accelerated Growth project helps strengthen livestock value chain actors in Kenya.
The project provides to actors a broader and deeper supply of quality services and inputs through new business models and practices. A wide range of services and products—animal health, veterinary needs, planting materials, and financial—are critical for livestock owners to improve productivity, enhance access to markets, and increase sales.
A Focus on Customer Needs
Lemantile was one of 35 community animal health workers, animal health technicians, veterinarians, and agrodealers who attended a July 2013 workshop hosted by the project. The training introduced attendees to a customer-oriented service and input provision model. Participants learned how they, as service providers, could proactively reach out to potential clients on market days to promote their services and products.
According to the workshop facilitator Dr. Bonface Kaberia, the strategy’s effect is to increase visibility, sales, transaction volumes, repeat customers, and customer loyalty. All these factors help stabilize income flows and, therefore, the businesses’ bottom line. By fostering trust and customer loyalty, the model opens up opportunities for additional advisory services, such as animal health best practices and behavior-change messages.
Making Local Business Connections
As part of the customer-oriented model, the Resilience and Economic Growth in the Arid Lands-Accelerated Growth project introduced Lemantile to Sidai, a supplier of quality animal health products and professional advice. The project also supplied Lemantile with brochures on animal husbandry best practices to give out to her customers, and it lent her a marketing tent to use until she could purchase her own.
The tent increases her visibility at markets and maintains a cool, shaded environment, helping to preserve the quality of the veterinary drugs she sells. Lemantile uses the tent on market days, selling her products to livestock keepers and providing ongoing mentoring and support to them.
At the market, she registers her clients and other livestock keepers interested in learning more about improving animal health and livestock productivity as well as commercial opportunities. In this way, Lemantile builds a solid client base.
Reaching More Pastoralists with Better Services
This new customer-oriented approach has resulted in significant business growth for Lemantile. Previously she sold products and provided services to approximately 100 households in her community of Oldonyiro. Today Lemantile has expanded to two new livestock markets 40 km away in Kipsing and Sere.
This dramatic growth has significantly extended her outreach. The number of pastoralists who benefit from her high-quality products and advisory services is now approximately 250 to 300 livestock owners on each of the market days. Moreover, more than 165 livestock owners have already registered for Lemantile’s advisory services—pastoralists who otherwise would likely not have been able to access such support.
The expanded market outreach has also translated into increased profits for Lemantile.
“I used to make sales of between $360 and $400 per week at my shop [in Oldonyiro],” Lemantile said, “but now my sales margins have increased to between $1,000 and $1,500 per month at the Kipsing market, between $800 and $1,070 per month at Oldonyiro market, and between $180 and $200 per month at Sere market.”
‘Champion of Change’
Her success prompted Lemantile to approach the Resilience and Economic Growth in the Arid Lands–Accelerated Growth project and requested introduction to a tent supplier to buy her own tent. She also received guidance on how to identify an appropriate financial institution so she could take out a loan to buy a vehicle. With her own vehicle, she hopes to reach more markets and further expand her business.
Given Lemantile’s success, the program has now selected her as a “champion of change” to share her success and promote the customer model with other animal health service providers in her region. As Lemantile’s business grows, so do the opportunities for livestock keepers in Isiolo to access improved animal health services and quality veterinary supplies, creating a more vibrant local livestock value chain.
Pictured at top: Lucy Katap Lemantile (wearing apron), a community animal health worker and “Champion of Change,” now regularly takes her products directly to livestock keepers on market days, thereby facilitating a regular supply of animal health advice and quality veterinary supplies in Kipsing, Oldonyiro, and Sere markets.