Meet James Momoh, a 29-year old Agricultural Biotechnologist with years of successful experience in crop production, livestock management and agropreneurship. Currently the CEO of St. James Farms, a product of the A2S Entrepreneurship Incubation Program, James and his team of four specialize in the production and sale of livestock. The focus is to produce affordable, organic food products that provide immense health benefits to consumers. St. James Farms officially opened for business on December 20, 2018, but the journey began long before that.
With the support, and an occasional strong push, from his A2S mentors, James led his team through a hefty research and planning phase as they developed a business plan for St. James Farms. Upon receiving an investment from A2S, the crew set to work designing, building and equipping the farm. Matured broiler chicken was the first St. James Farms product sold during the Christmas season.
“The lessons we learned from our mentors will forever be a part of our journey,” James commented. “We gained a lot from their vast network of knowledge and experience. We were thoroughly mentored on how to carry out surveys, research and factual analysis without relying on guesses. We thought they were too tough on us at the beginning, but now we can confidently say it was worth it. We are forever grateful to Mr. Andrew Lovedale and Mr. Douglas Eichhorn. Indeed…’we rise by lifting up others.’”
As St. James Farms continues to expand its production, the team is developing a social media presence and approaching businesses that could sell their products. “The best strategy is to develop strong relationships with people both professionally and personally.”
Like any start-up, this business it is not without its challenges and learnings. The major challenge the team is facing right now is the seasonal nature of the product. Poultry products are usually sold more during the festive periods, such as Christmas and Easter, and in the off-peak period people tend to patronize beef sellers.
“Many are not aware of the dangers of imported dressed products and patronize them rather than buying healthy live or dressed poultry products,” said James. “We currently do not have a shop in town that is equipped with freezers to store dressed products so it is quite difficult to compete with sellers of imported products.”
To overcome this challenge, St. James Farms is making connections directly through event planners, restaurant owners, and individuals that prefer healthy products. They have placed ads on some online platforms such as jiji.ng and WhatsApp, and they are also planning to open a shop in town to sell dressed products.
He has a full life as an entrepreneur, but James makes time to enjoy a night out at the cinema with friends. You might also hear his voice in the midst of football enthusiasts arguing about who is better between Ronaldo and Messi. James finds inspiration from his fellow Nigerians when it comes to making his business successful.
“I think what inspires me the most is the survival instinct ofthe average Nigerian. Things may not be as rosy as they should be, but there is this sense of hope in every Nigerian. An average Nigerian is a survivor and a fighter. She goes the extra mile to achieve success, and she sees every challenge as an opportunity to grow. She believes in herself no matter the economic state of the society. It is safe to say every market woman, hawker, vendor, driver, farmer, doctor, and entrepreneur inspires me because there is always a lesson to be learned from peoples’ experience.”
When asked if he had any words of wisdom for aspiring entrepreneurs, James reminded them to do proper research, market surveys, and create precise financial projections.
“Don’t rely on guesses. And don’t be discouraged at the beginning. Be willing to start small, learn in the process, gain experience, and grow.”