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Start-Up Spotlight: BirdPreneur

Nigerian poultry production faces three main problems: lack of financial resources, reliance on old knowledge, and no connection to a market to sell its product. To help solve these issues Michael Iyanro founded BirdPreneur. Iyanro and his wife came up with the idea for their start-up one night watching television.

“We were watching a television program and saw that the Nigerian population has grown to 198 million people,” says Iyanro. “We started thinking about what it will be like in 2050 and what the food requirements will be.”

His childhood experiences of raising chickens with his mom led him to base the company on poultry.

How it works

The start-up not only educates Nigerian farmers on the technologies available locally, but also trains them on smart farming techniques, such as using resources more efficiently, to better grow food and make their farming practices effective. Individuals are identified through farmer associations in rural areas.

In addition to training, farmers also receive the farm supplies they need to scale up their operations and improve productivity. The funds for these supplies are secured through farm sponsors.

“Farm sponsors are workingclass people like engineers and lawyers,” says Iyanro. “These people have an interest in farming but live in the city. By investing, they have the opportunity to be a farmer.”

BirdPreneur takes the finances from the farm sponsors and uses the money to buy what farmers need to be successful. Sponsors then receive regular updates from farmers through pictures and videos. The program currently has about 500 sponsors and hopes to reach 1,500 by 2019. Ninety percent of the current sponsors are from Nigeria, with four others located in the U.S. and Europe.

At the end of the farming cycle, Birdpreneur brings in connections with bulk buyers in major cities that come to the farm and pick the produce they want. This eliminates farmers’ issue of getting the products to market.

The farmer's revenue is then split three ways. The farm sponsor receives 40% as well as the initial investment, the farmer keeps 40%, and BirdPreneur takes 20%.

Last year, the start-up helped produce 65,000 chickens, assisted 1,105 farmers, and partnered with 500 farm sponsors. The company is now expanding to crops that are important to poultry, such as corn and soybeans. In the future, it would like to expand into livestock.

The company is currently operating in two of Nigeria’s 36 states, and it hopes to be in 18 more in the next two years. Eventually, it hopes to be in neighboring countries Ghana and Rwanda.

BirdPreneur is one of the five start-ups participating in the 2018 Iowa AgriTech Accelerator. It is using this opportunity to gain more knowledge, scale its operations, and gain access to people who will help the company raise money. Participants in this program spend 100 days in Des Moines, Iowa, working with mentors in the AgriTech industry. They also receive $40,000 in funding from the program’s sponsors in exchange for 6% in their business. 

About the Company

Company: BirdPreneur

Founder: Michael Iyanro

Headquarters: Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria

Website: birdpreneur.com

Background: The team at Birdpreneur is helping Nigerian farmers by providing the training and resources necessary to improve production.

Funding: Aside from the funding from the Iowa AgriTech Accelerator, Birdpreneur has also received 15,000 euros from Fledge accelerator.

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