Creating Opportunities Out Of Nothing: The Motivating Story Of Kator Hule
Sometimes entrepreneurship isn’t planned for, it emerges. For Kator Hule, entrepreneurship emerged at age 10 when he was a sales representative and at 11 years as a professional photographer in the small town of Lessel, Benue State Nigeria.
But after he graduated from university, Kator moved from Benue, his home state to Abuja, the nation’s capital. In his word, “I left Benue for Abuja with nothing but a pair of trousers and two shirts, I was broke with no accommodation but I was living in a friend’s office”. It was the darkest time he can ever remember, marked by social and economic challenges.
Kator didn’t own any property in his name. He didn’t have collateral or credit history. He was left with a mindset of possibility. But he managed to turn it around in 2013 after he emerged among top 50 Small and Medium Scale Enterprises that were sponsored by Diamond bank Plc under the Building Entrepreneurs Today 3 (BET3) programme. Kator was also selected as a Semi-Finalist (amongst 26 others) in an international competition that attracted more than 1000 entries from 32 countries.
Kator is educated and resourceful, but he knew that many young people like him find themselves in difficult circumstances without access to productive assets. “I saw that there were other young people like myself, some of them had not been to school like I had been and they were less privileged than I had been—and I thought: ‘How are they managing?’” In Africa, entrepreneurship, economic independence, and ability to contribute to economic growth is often restricted by a lack of opportunities and financing regulations that require tangible collateral. In Nigeria, where 69 percent of the population live below the poverty line, people struggle to open and grow businesses without the collateral needed to qualify for loans. More than 90 percent of the population do not own property, this exclusion propels many of the country’s population into a cycle of poverty.
Kator saw an opportunity to circumvent the restrictions that limit young people and people in the rural areas’s economic participation. He redesigned the traditional model of micro-finance to work for Nigerian entrepreneurs. In 2012, he founded KATOR HULE ENTERPRISES (K.H.E) in Abuja and began loaning and goats farming. Under this initiatives, Mr Hule created a FinTech called FIGI, a platform that enable users gain access to financial products such as loans and investment windows using mobile technology gateways.
The FIGI loans platform are offered to members of the public at no interest, without collateral and financial history reviews. Eight years later, Kator and his team have provided loans to over 2,000 businesses, impacted more than 100,000 people and created 55,000 jobs. A repayment rate of 85 percent enabled the company to keep growing; to serve more women and their families.
KATOR HULE ENTERPRISES (K.H.E) has been a catalyst for startup businesses in Nigeria, responsible for the launch of a range of small businesses and enterprises.
FIGI is just about everything – the flexible loans offer ranges from the lowest amount required by a client up to 10 Million Naira [USD$28,000] repayable in 12 months. The facility is accessible to all people (aged 18 years to 70), who are using mobile technologies/gadgets and have a bank account with a Bank Verification Number.
INVESTMENT, Each FIGI beneficiary automatically becomes an investor at the period of cashing out. The profit from the investment can be withdrawn anytime and the principal withdrawn once your loan has been repaid.
TRANSFER MONEY, On the FIGI platform, users can make savings, transfer monies to other FIGI account holders (called Figiants), pay for house rents (on House9ja), buy fresh food or cooked food, pay for laundry, medical insurance and other services available on the integrated Apps.
A majority of Kator’s clients, 60 percent, live in rural areas. Many are widows and young farmers who wouldn’t otherwise have access to the opportunity FIGI provides. Kator has designed a solution that meets his community’s needs, and he has built a model recognized by the former President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan after emerging top in a business plan writing competition, Youth Enterprise With Innovation in Nigeria (YouWiN!). Mr Hule was also acknowledged for ground breaking effort in driving business changes that build organizational effectiveness and propel revenue growth.
His entrepreneurship fuels bigger dreams, bigger goals. “If I can change the life of one person it makes a whole difference because behind that person there is a whole family. It’s a family, it’s a society.” Kator plans to open offices across Nigeria and has his sights set on expanding to other countries in West Africa.
Goats farming is the other business interest of Kator Hule, “I’m a goats farmer,” he said with excitement during this interview with PLEASURES MAGAZINE’S Faith Kirian.
Kator never gave up and to add to his achievements, his success story made it to the cover of the Pan African Entrepreneurial and Luxury magazine, Pleasures Magazine.
In some parts of the world, farmers are viewed with respect and cultivating the land is seen as an honorable trade. But in a region where most agriculture is still for subsistence — relying on cutlass, hoe and a hope for rain — farming is a synonym for poverty.
But Mr. Hule is among a growing number of young, college-educated Africans fighting the stigma by seeking to professionalize farming. They are applying scientific approaches and data-crunching apps not just to increase yields, but to show that agriculture can be profitable.
They call themselves “agripreneurs.”
It’s a steep challenge. Undeveloped distribution networks, poor roads and fickle water supplies are difficult hurdles for even the most competent farmer, and many of these would-be farmers have little training or experience.
However, these agricultural entrepreneurs hope to make money and to tackle the confounding calculus of a continent that holds about 65 percent of the world’s most arable uncultivated land, but which imports over $35 billion in food a year, according to a report by the African Development Bank.
In Nigeria, they’ve been bolstered by the government, which is in the midst of an ambitious national rollout to increase agricultural capacity and entice young people back to the farm. As seen from the rest of the continent, Nigeria’s farmers are aging, even as young people pour into cities in search of jobs amid skyrocketing youth unemployment.
Rolling up sleeves and bucking convention, some young farmers have left behind cushy jobs. They tend to be people who have the means to lease or buy large tracts of land, and afford a loss. They often have little more training on how to rear chicks and till soil than from YouTube videos. But underscoring their work is a sense that what’s at stake is Africa’s economic future.
For Mr. Hule, 37, the future is goat farming.
Both are rare delicacies here, and are typically harvested from the wild. Mr. Azumah, who has a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of Agriculture, Markudi, Nigeria and a certificate in entrepreneurship management (CEM) from Pan-Atlantic University in Lagos , spotted a missed opportunity: captive breeding. When he told his mother, Martha Amuzu, she wept.
“We have to make farming sexy and KHE GOATS are here to stay,” said Kator Hule, who has a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of Agriculture, Markudi, Nigeria and a certificate in entrepreneurship management (CEM) from the Pan-Atlantic University in Lagos has laborers on his farm in Gwagwalada area of Abuja, rearing hundreds of his goats.
“Goats provide one of the most proteinous meats. Mutton ranks among the highest consumed of animal protein in Nigeria and Kator Hule Enterprises (KHE) is leveraging on the huge market gap and enabling environment to tailor solutions in price stability and quality meat supply. A commercial farm, KHE is professionally managing goats using advanced technologies and available raw materials. Beyond farming healthy/ strong/ affordable breeds of goats, the farm makes supplies to restaurants, abattoirs, events and local goat merchants.
Market access, advanced breeds, good transport system, insurance and good farm security are the farm’s advantages. Goat business is safe as the mortality rate of goats is low”.
In today’s dynamic society, effective management of a business requires expertise ranging widely from administrative to technological areas. Conscious of this, our farm is administered by a solid team of professionals, including Agricultural Engineers, ICT and financial experts, vet and animal scientists.
Yearly, KHE Goat Farms opens a unique opportunity for investors to partake by owning goats or sheep in our farm and make profits when we sell them. Investors also enjoy benefits such as free goats/ sheep and free bags of rice at festive periods such as Christmas, Easter, Sallah and during special times such as birthdays and wedding anniversary. In year 2019, we gave out lots of live goats, cooking oil, chickens and bags of rice to our investors in Abuja, Lagos, Benue and Oyo.
Mr. Hule now opens his doors to investors to come in, and according to world bank report, investments in this sector are estimated to be two or three times more effective at reducing poverty than investing in other sectors. “Doors are wide open for potential investors to invest with us as we are looking to expand our loans and goat farming initiatives, even beyond Nigeria to other West African countries. The government has made agriculture a priority, and has provided an enabling environment for investment in the sector,” said Kator Hule.
Since President Muhammadu Buhari took office in 2015, Nigeria made raising the productivity of its agricultural sector a key initiative.
And with government placing agricultural transformation at the centre of the country’s economic modification, I believe the most achievable pathway to raising the efficiency and productivity within the sector to the necessary standards for sustainable economic growth is an investment in farming, Mr Hule informed Pleasures Magazine.