Fred Kagenyi worked at Nile Breweries. Then he was restructured after he had declined a transfer.
It was a new chapter of life, fought off by many. He went from a 20-year-long beverage services worker to a full time farmer.
Nevertheless, retirement would not have been the option at the time because Kagenyi was not even 55 years.
It was scary at first, he says as he wondered where the millions of shillings he needed to support his life would come from.
Before leaving his job, he had been growing vegetables for sale.
Better still, there were other opportunities he interested himself in, some of which he drew inspiration from, for his children.
He had grown with the knowledge that a salary would never be enough. He told them too.
All they had to do was gain work experience and move onto the next big thing.
Putting his own advice into practice, Kagenyi had a poultry farm on a small scale already and it had been a good source of income.
He had his terminal benefits from Nile Breweries of Shs25m.
The only problem is the cash was insufficient for a meaningful investment, especially after using part of it to pay a salary loan and tuition for his children at university then.
He sought out a friend for advice and his suggestion was that he accesses his National Social Security Fund (NSSF) benefits.
He was 50 years at the time and qualified to access withdrawal benefits since he had been out of employment.
“I thank God that the companies I worked for remitted my NSSF savings. When they were cutting that money off salary, I thought it was a lot but I realised later that saving on your own is difficult. If I were to use my personal savings, I would have sold off my property,” Kagenyi says.
It took three weeks after the application early in 2017. It was as much as Shs224m, he remembers.
He also remembers being advised by NSSF to withdraw the cash in bits since he was a first time beneficiary but he did not need to.
“I told them that I had been doing business on a small scale,” Kagenyi says.
He clung to the idea of a familiar businesses and invested Shs100m from his benefits in poultry.
“It is not good to run into a business you don’t have experience in. For instance, before the NSSF money came, I tried trading in maize in Mubende and I failed at that business,” Kagenyi says, adding: “I constructed two houses for the chicken. I also did some agriculture because I planted vanilla, 1,500 seedlings of coffee. Prior, I had planted one acre of eucalyptus trees. So, I increased to 15 acres in Rakai. I also set up a maize farm which helps me to feed the chicken.”
The highlight of his mixed farm, the poultry farm, did not only expand in terms of infrastructure.
There was growth in the number of birds, by 8,000 chicks. Seven months later, 1,000 chicks were added onto the farm.
He has since sold off some of the chickens and is brooding a number of other chicks to join the farm.
The layers give him between 80 and 90 trays of eggs a day. He uses 10 per cent of the chicken droppings as manure for his crops while the rest is sold off.
Kagenyi is using a promising twist to study his business. He records every input and price using excel spreadsheets to know whether he is making a profit or loss.
“If your birds are good, they lay eggs for eight months before you can see actual profit. If you calculate the feeds put in in the early stages, you may think you are making profit but by the time a bird lays eggs, it can have eaten at least 25,000,” Kagenyi says, adding: “Not all of them lay eggs at the same time. For the ones that do, I get about Shs7m in a month. You may find in a month, you get as low as Shs1m especially when the price of eggs drops to Shs7,500. Right now it is Shs9,500.”
According to Fred Kagenyi if you calculate the feeds put in in the early stages, you may think you are making profits but by the time a bird lays eggs, it could have eaten at least 25,000 kilogrames.
“Not all of them lay eggs at the same time. For the ones that do, I get about Shs7m in a month. You may find in a month, you get as low as Shs1m especially when the price of eggs drops to Shs7,500. Right now it is Shs9,500,” he says.
Inside Fred Kagenyi mixed farm are different kinds of life.
But if only there were no thieves. They can steal as many as 300 birds in one night.
Prices of feeds are high and always on the move. Vaccination reigns as a practice because diseases are commonplace if one is negligent on the farm.
With the NSSF Friends with Benefits contest midway, Kagenyi wants a shot at the Shs30m cash prize.
“I am in plant farming where I employ people to work. In poultry, I employ people. People are using my eggs to create livelihoods for instance, those that sell Rolex. So, I am not the only beneficiary, it is our society too,” Kagenyi says.
And what plans does he have for this cash. He wants 20,000 birds on the farm in the next five years. He also wants something else.
“I had planned to have a maize mill so that I produce maize bran for the birds and maize flour that I can sell,” he concludes.
To vote for Fred Kagenyi in the NSSF Friends with Benefits competition, dial *254# or go to www.nssfug.org.