Winifred Karugu is currently the Managing Director (MD) of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) Enterprises (JKUATES), a company that is 100% owned by the University. She is based in the University’s Main Campus at Juja, in Kenya. The Company is the commercial wing of JKUAT and engages in direct linkages with industry through training, consultancy and related activities. She had also served as a director of the JKUATES for three years before her appointment as MD. Prior to this appointment, which took place in February 2008, Winifred was the Director of the School for Human Resources Development, which houses Business and Humanities at the University, a position that she held for four years. Winifred also lectures in economics and marketing courses units at the university. She also engages in research and consultancy. She has published several articles in refereed journals and written several business cases both teaching and analytical. Her research interests include pro-poor business models, SME growth strategies in emerging markets and gender & technology transfer. Winifred is a member of: Academy of Management (AoM), International Association of Agricultural Economists (IAAE), African Association of Agricultural Economists (AAAE), Africa Technology and Policy Studies Network (ATPS) and Kenya Association of Business and Management Professionals (KABMAP). Find below selected publications of her work.
Kenya Agricultural Commodity Exchange (KACE) is the first and only national agricultural commodity exchange in Kenya, and it differentiates itself by dealing with a variety of commodities of which maize and beans are the most heavily traded. KACE acting as an intermediary further empowers rural farmers with market information and provides capacity enhancement, business training and technical assistance.
To download the KACE case study from the GIM database, please click here.
What is KACE’s basic value proposition and what makes its financial model sustainable?
KACE’s main value proposition is the inclusion of previously hapless small scale farmers into the mainstream economy. Small scale farmers have long been exploited or unable to sell and/or obtain fair prices for their produce. The net result is that they tended to sink deeper into poverty and despair. KACE’s activities be they radio-based, mobile phone-based, internet-based or the warehouse scheme have resulted in farmers receiving better prices and being able to negotiate in the market place. Their standards of living have risen and they are able to plan for the longer term rather than living from day to day. Greater availability has meant greater food security in a region where hunger stress was common.
Access to markets has clearly improved the livelihoods of many farmers; though what are the remaining challenges for the growth of this business model?
The main constraints to growth include missing or incomplete output and input markets, high transaction costs and low levels of technology.
How important is new technology, as used by KACE, in improving the lives of poor in Kenya?
The mobile phone has had tremendous uptake in developing countries for example in Kenya with a population of 40 million people 24 million now own mobile phones. The applications and technology for the mobile has also grown tremendously with internet connectivity, money transfer, banking and hundreds of applications now routinely available. For example current Central bank figures show that Kenyans now move in excess of a billion USD through mobile phones every month. Mobile phones have enabled millions of the unbanked to have bank accounts and to trade. The possibilities of what can be done with this are huge.
What are the success factors that need to be in place for this commodity exchange model to be replicated elsewhere?
The fact that small scale farmers and traders can be more in control of their destiny has led to several African countries studying the KACE model and adopting it. The model is useful in the fight against poverty on the continent.
What would you say was critical about the actor ecosystem that enabled this business to be successful?
The CEO of KACE had wide experience in this field and a passion for trying to uplift vulnerable farmers who were sinking deeper into poverty through exploitation and ignorance. Also several things disturbed him such as the facts that certain areas in Kenya would have overproduction and waste, while other areas would be experiencing drought at the same time. He wanted to level the field so that all poor farmers were included in the wider economy and able to participate on a more equitable level.
What has been your personal experience going through the GIM training and case research process?
My experience in the GIM training and research of cases has been invaluable to me in that I gained knowledge and deeper insight into models that positively influence the poor.