29-year-old Maureen Wanyaga is the largest rabbit farmer in Nyeri. There, residents know her as the millennial rabbit farmer.
Her determination and entrepreneurial spirit have seen her rise to the top, and although she is yet to reach the stars, she says she is on the right track.
This is her journey as told by WoK:
Maureen ventured into the rabbit farming business in 2015.
She had just graduated from the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology with a bachelor’s degree in Commerce, specializing in Human Resource.
After tarmacking for 8 fruitless months without finding a job, she decided to invest all her savings of about sh 50 000 into the rabbit farming business.
Initially, she started with only 5 rabbits at her home in Kahawa Sukari.
Maureen, who is the last born in a family of 5, was orphaned in 2005 after losing both of her parents in a road accident.
“I was the only survivor in that accident. I survived without a scratch. It was God’s grace,” she said.
She was raised by her aunt, whose household was an avid consumer of rabbit meat.
Although life was hard, Maureen slowly developed a taste for rabbit meat and started rearing them as a hobby.
By the time she graduated from JKUAT, she was already an old hand in the business.
It was also at JKUAT that her entrepreneurial spirit surfaced.
As a student, she had managed to purchase a motorbike, which enabled her to invest in the boda boda business.
This gave her the initial capital of sh 50,000 she needed to start her rabbit farming venture.
Within months, her initial brood of 5 rabbits at Kahawa had multiplied to almost 100, and she was running out of space.
Luckily, her sister appreciated her venture and gave her some capital to expand.
“With the money, I went to the hardware, bought some materials, and started building better cages for my rabbits,” she said.
In the course of building, she suddenly realized that the cost of rearing the animals in Nairobi was very high.
There was the issue of water, labor, electricity, among other costs.
She therefore decided to take the venture to her ushago home in Tetu Nyeri, and most of the money she had been given by her sister was used on transport expenses.
Therefore, she did not have the initial capital to build the structures and had to rear the rabbits on open ground.
However, they were attacked by predators at night and she lost almost 12 in one night.
The next day, she spoke to some of her neighbors who helped her build some cages inside the house, where she lived with them for three months.
She did not even have electricity at the time.
She currently has about 1000 rabbits, and the unit has cost her about sh 800 000 including their housing units, drainage, drinking system, food, etc.
She feeds them on pellets, which she buys from the agrovet.
She says business is good, and she is proud to be the rabbit lady of Nyeri.
She sells most of the rabbits during the festive season, with a mature one going for sh 1 000.
“In the beginning, people in Nyeri were very reluctant to eat rabbit meat, they saw the animals as pets,” she said.
However, she has gradually cultivated loyal costumers.
Some of her neighbors have also seen the profitability of the venture and embraced it.
She is inspired by how far she has come, with her aim being to grow her brood to over 5,000 rabbits with better facilities.