By Isaac Blessings
Losing a job is always a traumatizing experience especially if you don’t have a well thought out exit plan. Not many people can pick themselves up, dust themselves off and open a new chapter in their lives. But one man – Caleb Karuga has proved that with the right mindset you can become what you want incase you find yourself jobless.
In this article WoK brings you the story of this former K24 journalist who ventured into agribusiness after losing his job.
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Caleb Karuga’s Journey
Caleb Karuga was born and raised in the central province of Kenya. He later came to Nairobi to pursue a Degree in IT but quit midway when he realized that it wasn’t his passion. While at the university, he had acquired some basic knowledge in film and videography and so he decided to join the media field. With the little savings he had, he bought a video camera and began shooting videos for funerals, weddings and any events he would be booked to cover. Through the videography job he made some good money to enable him to register his first company named Target Creations in 2003.
His big break came in 2007 when the CEO of Ashleys Ms. Terry Mungai who also happens to own Miss Kenya, Miss Tourism and Miss Commonwealth, noticed his talent and passion for videography. She had seen him record videos for JCC Church, Ngara and asked him to be the official videographer of the 2007 Miss World Pageant finals that were held at the Kenyatta International Conference Center. He signed the Ksh 250,000 deal and covered the event which was a success and gave him a very big networking opportunity.
In August 2007, K24 TV was being established and were looking for journalists and technical workers. He used the clip of the work he had done at Miss Pageant to apply and was employed as a reporter and cameraman. He worked for K24 TV for six years until 2013 when he was relieved of his duties together with several other employees. He was paid Ksh 1.3 million compensation benefit that he used to kick-start his agribusiness journey.
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One day when he was on his way to Naivasha, Karuga met a mole trapper whose story changed his whole perception of agriculture. The Mole trapper would visit different farms trapping moles and would make around Ksh 2,600 per day which accumulated to over Ksh 90,000 per month. This was slightly more than what he would make at the MediaMax owned Television. The story of the young man shifted his mind about agriculture prompting him to lease an acre of land in Kikuyu where he started Wendy Farms.
During the first three years, he made many mistakes that almost made him give up on his farming dream. At first, he bought 200 pigs without doing proper research and the venture failed terribly. He then bought two hens and a cock from his neighbour and started rearing chickens. But he had no information on the vaccination time and process and so he lost 200 chickens within two months. Determined to make it in the poultry business, he again decided to buy 500 day-old chicks from Kenya Agriculture Research Institute (KARI). This time, his rogue and undisciplined employees sold his chicks during his absence. He later leased land in Lamu to start farming but didn’t follow the right procedures of signing a lease agreement and so one day the farm owner chased him from the farm. He later found out that there was no legal action he could take against the farm owner since there was no written agreement whatsoever between the two.
Success of Wendy Farms
Despite failing so many times, Caleb didn’t give up on his farming dream. He kept on learning from his mistakes and trying one more time. Today he runs farms in Kikuyu, Nyeri and Laikipia where he practices poultry rearing and farming. He has thousands of indigenous quails, chickens, guinea fowls, dairy goats and cows. He farms sweet potatoes, butternuts, sunflowers and strawberries across his three farms. He also supplies eggs to various supermarkets, sells chicks and chickens and has trained over 1,200 people across the country who want to join the poultry and agribusiness sectors.