Afbeelding: Machibya
Richard Machibya (l) with his son (r)

“Quality always sells”

Tanzanian entrepreneur, Richard Machibya, tells us why he started his own business in crop trading and processing, how his company stands out from the competition and about his entrepreneurial dreams.  

Why did you decide to start your own business in crop trading and processing?
“I’m a son of a farmer, so as a child I always helped my parents on the farm. When I grew up I first started a small shop and worked as an aggregator (collecting crops) for an Indian man. He encouraged me to walk my own path; learn to make my own decisions and to gain experience, so that’s what I did. After 3 years, I met the Indian man again and we started working together for the second time. Instead of working for him as aggregator, now I had my own business in processing and selling crops. People need food, so I know there is always a market for my products.”

Why did you choose to process and trade rice, maize, sunflower oil and beans?
“Partly because these are the same crops my parents had been trading, so I already had a lot of practical knowledge. Another reason is the demand of two big export traders (HS Impex and Afrisian) for green and yellow beans. The contracts I have with both of them offers me the security of having a guaranteed market for my beans and a fair price. By trading and processing different kind of crops I create more opportunities for myself and become less vulnerable. In case the price of rice drops, I can earn money with processing maize or sunflower etcetera. Each crop has its own cycle of harvesting and therefore the best time to process or sell the crops also differs. Processing and trading rice is still my biggest source of income .”

Is it difficult to find markets for your rice with so many competitors in the region?
“Not so much since a lot of rice traders come to an area here close by (Shinyanga) to buy rice. So you can say that the market finds me. That’s a big advantage for me since I don’t have trucks to transport my products to them. However, if I want to receive a better price for my products I need to find new markets in larger cities. That’s why I’m also pro-active and visit bigger cities to look for other opportunities.”

How do you outshine the competition?
“By adding more value to my product. Most competitors only process the rice but I add value by grading, packaging and branding my own rice. I have my own brand ‘Salawe Super Rice’. Moreover, I also sell MACO sunflower and MACO maize flower (MACO is abbreviation of Machibya Company).”

What is the most important entrepreneurial lesson you learned in all those years?
“High quality sells! If you sell a good product, there is always a market for it. I experienced when I offer a good quality product, consistently, customers come back and new customers know to find me. Another important entrepreneurial lesson is honesty. This is the only way you build long-term relationships. If people know they can trust you, they will come back and like to do business with you. Lies always come back to bite you. Finally I think an important skill for an entrepreneur is good record keeping, otherwise your decisions are not based on any numbers and it’s hard to make good decisions. The Business Development Services of the Fund helps me to run my business more professional and to become sustainable.”

What are your dreams for your company?
“My dream is to become the second dr. Mengi. He is a very successful businessman in Tanzania and a great example for a lot of Tanzanians. He wrote a book ‘I can’, I will, I must’ which describes his journey from poverty to wealth.  Dr. Mengi shows that everyone is able to achieve his or her dreams if you are willing to invest enough effort and show determination. I take it step by step, first I want to buy more machines to increase the production.”

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