New dawn as supply and logistics firm bets on a coaching program

New dawn as supply and logistics firm bets on a coaching program

BY NBM WRITER

If you have been in entrepreneurship long enough, you have heard that the essence of strategy is choosing what not to do. For Nicodem Mayison, director and founder of Palma Group Limited, it made sense not to give up on his business which had been disrupted by war. 

Since 2010, the supply and logistics firm had been operating mainly in South Sudan, though registered in Kenya as well. Business was flowing until conflict broke out in 2016, causing the entrepreneur to lose about $1.2 million worth of equipment and ongoing contracts, leading to a shutdown. 

While waiting for the dust to settle, Mr Mayison launched Palma Organic Farm, a subsidiary of Palma Group Limited. The climate friendly investment division is based in Kenya and mainly focuses on neutralizing carbon emission through activities that help absorb carbon from the atmosphere. In 2018, he launched the organic farm business in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), venturing into the carbon markets. 

While outsourcing financial solutions and partners for the new business, Mayison came across an investor readiness program run by Invest in Africa (IIA). He seized the opportunity and enrolled to the coaching program to help his business recover from the loss sustained as a result of the war. Today, his company is poised for growth. 

He says the recovery program was necessary for his business as it was challenging to get investors due to lack of (and poor) financial and accounting records. He needed to acquire knowledge to put in place a proper documentation structure and streamline the operations in order to entice investors. 

“The program helped us in developing proper records of our financials models. We also created an accounting routine and developed policies and a human resource management structure,’’ says Mayison, adding that the organic company is currently in the best place to implement sizeable projects while ensuring better documentation. 

Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics show that about 22% of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) do not keep any formal records of their operations. This poses a major strain in attracting potential investors, adding to these businesses’ access to finance gap.   

“Our business capacity has improved thanks to the structures we have put in place. By recognizing the need to capture information about the business and the market, we learned how to collate, process, and use information. We have been keen to track our business activities and use the collected information to plan and predict the future. In addition, this provides the investors with much-needed information to make an investment decision,” he says.

He further confirms that the organization is now investor-ready and has continued to fast-track proper policy implementation. With the gradual recovery of the economy, Mayison is optimistic that his company will do well in the long run. From where he sits, Palma has turned a new page as a result of the capacity building program. He is glad the coaching program helped in streamlining his business operations.

“We have revamped our marketing materials and clients are already appreciating. We believe that in the near future, we will be sustainable because investors can now have confidence in investing in our venture,” he says. 

Business plan

He developed a bespoke business plan through the initiative, which was implemented professionally within the IIA program. He also created business models per sector and designed a financial plan per program to serve the wide area of operation the organization is in. 

Invest in Africa (IIA) partnered with Mastercard Foundation to front for the survival and resilience of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) through capacity building. Under this initiative, organisation enrolled SMEs through bespoke masterclasses, peer-to-peer mentorship sessions, an investor readiness plan, and business development coaching, as a way of ensuring the businesses can survive the impact of Covid-19 pandemic as well as future
disasters.

“We plan to fully establish the organization in Kenya and supervise the other offices in South Sudan and DRC from here,” said Mayison, whose advice to other entrepreneurs is that “information is power”. 

“Entrepreneurs should be accountable for all operations and be keen to keep the necessary records. This, in turn, will help plan and predict the future of an investor-ready business,” he says. 

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