29 Jul James Mwaniki
James Mwaniki is a father of two and a trader located in Molo Nakuru county Kenya. He has been trading garden peas for as long as he can remember, buying the products from local farmers in Nakuru and Narok and bringing the product to Nairobi Marikiti market and at the same time selling to export markets through agents. Owing to the fact that this business requires huge capital investment he had to pull resources together with his wife. His wife would borrow from KWFT Bank and inject the money into the business. However, the KWFT loan came with its own challenges since it took one month to be approved. This caused a strain on the business as the one month time gap meant that the frequency of trade was limited. It is while in this quagmire that his friend and trading partner Dickens Kaboka introduced him to Open Book Trading.
In 2016 Open Book Trading took a strategic decision to focus their business development in the Kenyan counties. Their main focus is middlemen trading in the horticulture and grain sectors. They organized capacity building activities in Nakuru where they invited middlemen to learn how to become Professional, Efficient, Sustainable and Accountable in their trade (The PESA promise). James Mwaniki was one of the beneficiaries of this capacity building activity. From the training, James learnt how to use the OBT platform, a product that allows middlemen to record their business deals online to promote transparency and accountability to all stakeholders involved in the value chain. The detailed records act as a portfolio which he realized he can use to access finance from other financiers. He also learnt that he could access working capital to finance his deal thus being able to pay the farmers cash on the bag.
By working with Open Book Trading James’s capacity has increased, in that he can access working capital which allows him to pay farmers cash keeping him ahead of his competitors. The frequency of trade has increased since he does not have to wait for a month to access finance or wait for his buyers to pay for his produce, which usually takes two to three months especially in the export market. James has also been able to concentrate on supplying the export market through AAA. He does this through an agent since he has been unable to raise the large capital outlays required to be a direct export supplier. OBT has also given him confidence to venture into the Tanzanian market, buying from Tanzanian farmers which increases his profitability as the Kenyan shilling is stronger compared to the Tanzanian shilling.
James is expectant that with continued partnership with the OBT team he will continue to increase his volume of trade with the end goal being able to bypass agents and supply directly to the export market and continue supporting his family. He is also a member of the Nakuru OBT cohort. This is a group of traders that trades in an open and transparent manner, and are accountable to each other. They are also hoping to do trading together and share learning with the group members.
29th July 2016: Wangechi Kuria