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Meet our mentoring program participants!

Meet participants YPARD mentoring program

Photo by Neil Palmer (CIAT)

We are pleased to announce the 2015 pilot mentoring program participants! They will be kicking off the mentoring program at an orientation workshop from June 4-6 in Nairobi. For more information visit


Vivien Ochieng (Kisumu)

Vivien is a smallholder poultry, rabbit and goat farmer. She also supplies vegetables to the schools and markets around her local area in Kisumu. Her business is less than a year old and she is currently working on a business plan to expand her farm and sell wholesale.

Irene Kagara (Nairobi)

Irene is a research assistant in the MyDairy project at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). She analyses mycotoxins in milk, pig urine, pig serum, foods and animal feeds.

Irene’s vision is to have a food secure and safe African continent with no cases of malnourishment. She envisions herself being part of the research community that is studying the trends and quality of food to provide data to policymakers to improve food safety.

Lencer Ochele (Kisumu)

Lencer is a small scale horticulture farmer from Kisumu. She has been growing tomatoes and buying and selling grains for over 12 months. She is looking to improve her farming methods to expand her business. Her vision is to support her community with basic agricultural commodities.

Esther Ndichu (Naivasha)

Esther is a result oriented horticulturalist specialising in cutflowers and tomatoes grown in greenhouses. She loves nature, cutflowers inspiring teenagers and becoming someone who many youths of her age can emulate. Esther just started a business called Kamzito farmers that aims to provide tomatoes during the rainy season and cold months of June and July when tomatoes become scarce in the market.

Esther’s vision is to be an end to end community based solutions provider of quality food for human consumption. She has been born and bred in an agricultural setup and want to be the pioneer of change in her community by building productive communities who are well updated in the new upcoming trends in agriculture.

Catherine Muiruri (Murang'a)

Catherine is an accountant and entrepreneur who often finds herself excelling in areas where she is promoting a product or helping people solve a problem.

Catherine has a smallholder poultry and egg farm with 600 head of chickens. In the next three months she wants to expand her business to passionfruit farming to make this fruit cheaply accessible and manufacture juice without additives. She then hopes to bring Agasha from Rwanda to Kenya.          

Duncan Cheruiyot (Nakuru)

Duncan is a young researcher with the Kenya Agricultural Research Organization looking at development of disease resistant wheat varieties.

Ambitious and eager to learn, he has a desire to gain knowledge and skills to contribute to improved agricultural production in sub-Saharan Africa and other food insecure countries of Africa. Duncan has just completed my Masters in Agronomy (Plant breeding) and is interested to pursue a PhD degree on the same.

Allan Migaili (Nairobi)

Allan is in his final year of an agricultural engineering degree, studying crop production, animal production, agrometrology, soil and water conservation, irrigation and drainage, agricultural structures and post harvest technology .

Allan’s vision is seeing that the levels of unemployed youth decrease rapidly with the solution being investment and empowering the agricultural sector. He is passionate about youth empowerment, agricultural education and extension and  entrepreneurship. While he is not sure of his career direction yet he is thinking of either a masters, agribusiness or agricultural marketing sector.

Sally Musungu (Nairobi)

Sally has just completed a BSc in agronomy in Coventry, UK. She returned to Kenya and is currently working on a number of research papers on soil microbes as she is thinking of doing a PhD in this area.

Little study has been done in Kenya to elucidate the interactions of the microbes and its effect on crop growth and through her research, Sally hopes to help small scale farmers solve soil related problems. Sally is looking forward for a future where small scale farmers in Kenya can achieve high production through sustainable means. 

Alphaxrd Gitau Ndungu (KIambu)

Alphaxrd is a dairy, poultry and horticulture farmer, managing Alpham Fresh farm, which he aims to grow into a leading agri-products company with a focus on organic food production.

His business will address the need for organic produce delivered straight to customers’ homes. People have a challenge of accessing healthy organic food and lack the time to go to the market where they can purchase them easily.Therefore he plans to do deliveries from his farm to their houses at subsidized costs and with consistency.

Alphaxrd is a graduate of economics and passionate about youth development and empowerment. Before he decided to pursue agribusiness full time, he was involved in youth empowerment projects, advocacy work and community mobilization.                            

Emily Ongus (Mombasa)

Emily is a senior field officer with SerendiKenya helping coconut farmers adhere to organic and fair trade principles which then provides a market for their coconut oil. Her choice for engaging in extension mainly has been so as to be able to become a researcher who understands what is needed on the ground.

Emily’s vision for the future is to see agriculture being embraced as an entrepreneurial activity by young people. She sees herself playing an adaptable role - either as a researcher or entrepreneur, being part of ideas that develop and build on farmers’ knowledge. Emily is an ambitious, assertive, enthusiastic go-getter who likes to do and finish what needs to be done to the best of possible outcomes. Her interests are in agriculture, gender roles in society especially women empowerment, first aid, art and cultures.

Gerishom Boiyo (Kakamega)

Gerishom is an entrepreneur about to launch online marketplace for agricultural products - Croople. This is an online platform where youthful farmers can buy and comfortably sell their produce while at the same time exchange ideas and contacts.

Gerishom has over 4 years experience working with youth in agriculture helping them gain production and marketing skills using various ICT solutions.

Samwel Murage (Mwea)

Samwel is a champion of animal feed production and nutrition. Based in Mwea, he founded Lesahfarm enterprises which processes and formulates high-quality animal feeds for cattle, poultry, pigs and turkeys.

He is currently looking at partnering with financial institutions to grow and expand his business and would like to offer training seminars to farmers. Samwel is passionate about creating employment for youth in agriculture and wants his business to be an inspiring place to work.

Juliet Braslow (Nairobi)

Juliet is a research area coordinator with the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). She is currently working on the AGORA project, which focuses on understanding the complex social and biophysical landscapes of two communities in Malawi and Tanzania. She is exploring these landscapes through Participatory Mapping and Participatory video.

Julius Makanga (Yala)

Julius is a farmer based in Yala. In September he will be beginning an onion production business, with the aim to harvest and market by early 2016.

He hopes to acquire better knowledge and skills in farming and entrepreneurship for sustainable business management, in line with his vision to contribute to achieving economic empowerment and food security by 2030. He is a keen learner and is contemplating whether to do further studies to strengthen his farming practices.

Obadiah Biwot (Eldoret)

Obadiah is an an industrious and self-driven business development advisor at Heifer Internal where he is responsible for business proposals and strategic plans for milk producer organizations, organizing and facilitating trainings for staff and farmers, creating sustainable partnerships and progress reports.

He’s also started a greenhouse tomato farming business to address the challenge of seasonal production in agriculture. He aims to begin production this month.

Obadiah is passionate about enhancing capacity and creating efficient value chains in agriculture, particularly in involving youth in farming. He believes greenhouse farming is a great way to get youth involved in farming as it utilises very small portions of land (youth do not own large tracts of land) and has high returns.  


Nicholas Korir (Nairobi)

Nicholas is an agriculture professional with a 10-year career of teaching, consultancy, registration and sales operations for high-growth agrochemical companies, growers and public benefit organizations and other institutions. He is currently a lecturer and researcher at Kenyatta University.

Nicholas has extensive expertise in needs analysis with a consultative approach to all aspects of efficacy trials, research and product registration, placement and sales. Previously he was an assistant promotions manager, product development specialist and business development manager for Osho Chemical Industries where he had repeated success guiding sizeable, cross-functional teams in the design, re-design, and launch of leading-edge solutions.

He holds a PhD in horticulture from Nanjing Agricultural University in China.

Nancy Mwaniki (Nairobi)

Nancy currently teaches business and management courses in a private christian university on part-time basis. She is also involved in private practice as a business consultant and trainer involved in business planning and development, entrepreneurship training and development, youth mentorship and development.

Nancy founded the Rural Development and Self Employment Initiative - an NGO aiming to empower women and youth through entrepreneurship training. Nancy is also a farmer involved in pig rearing, poultry and horticulture farming. She is involved in a women farmers self help group as the chairperson where they share ideas and pool financial resources. Before her current job she was previously a lecturer at the Rwanda Tourism University college.

Patricia Wangui (Nanyuki)

Patricia Wangui is a community projects manager at the Zeitz Foundation, a global NGO headquartered in Kenya, Wangui works in the semi-arid Maasai area, where most residents depend on raising livestock for income. “Food security is lacking in this area, which was hit hard by drought in 2008-2009,” she says. “The Zeitz Foundation began then to address the pressing need of food security.”                                                         

Patricia works with small-scale farmers in rural areas and has witnessed the disconnect between the good work done in the laboratory and the information gap suffered by farmers. She would like to work with mentees to appreciate and influence the link between research-extension and farmer in a timely manner. A great deal of Patricia’s work involves community outreach programs.

“Every cropping season, I organize a farmers’ field day to educate the community on the latest farming techniques,” she says. “This is widely publicized, and includes stakeholders from the agriculture sector.” She is part of a nine-member project implementation committee composed of people from nearby villages. “I coordinate communication between the villages, encouraging farmers to undertake projects on their own as community custodians.”

Jan Willem van Es (Nairobi)

Jan Willem is an experienced senior manager with sharp eye on cost-efficiency and environmental footprint. He is currently the Symposium Director of the Western Agribusiness Investment Symposium which brings together experts and investors to consider the opportunities for investment and partnerships in agribusiness activities.

Jan Willem has nearly 30 years professional working experience. He has worked across Agri, Subsistence & Energy Value Chains, in multiple roles but always with a keen eye on Green Operations. He is particularly passionate about renewable energy, carbon footprint reduction and sustainability. He has been able to build an extensive knowledge in improving farm yields by implementing fusion farming, with extensive ideas how to improve post-harvest treatment, grading and pre-processing.

Noah Nasiali (Nairobi)

Noah is the CEO of Nasco Farm Fresh - an agribusiness firm that grows, rears and are involved in value addition of both livestock (rabbits, goats and chickens) as well as crops (capsicum, strawberries, tomatoes, cabbages, kales, and herbs). His expertise is in crop protection from seedling stage to post-harvest, export market and global GAP training.

As a farmer, Noah has seen the challenges most entry-level farmers go through. He is keen to help his mentee turn farming into a business venture and develop the talents one has and make them a source of revenue. “Farming if managed well can be the best source of income but most smallholder farmers have no idea of moving from farming to agri business.

Entrepreneurs on the other hand would benefit from my experience of having tried many revenue streams. Most have the passion but are not sure of how to choose one business,” he says.

Margaret Syomiti (Nairobi)

Margaret Syomiti traces her love of livestock back to her grandmother, a farmer in Kenya’s Kwale district. “When a hyena killed my grandmother’s fattest goat, she brought all the others into the house to sleep beside her,” recalls Syomiti, who says this incident inspired her desire to improve the livelihoods of livestock farmers. Margaret has about 14 years working in livestock research, specifically on nutrition and feed science. Currently, she is just about to complete a PhD degree in natural resources management.

As a research scientist with the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Association, Margaret has developed two research projects geared to establishment of agri-business model farms where the farmers would commercialize research technologies to improve their incomes.

These research technologies are: Value-addition and Commercialization of prosopis species for livestock feeding in Kenya's dry land and early calves' weaner diets for smallholder dairying in Kenya. Margaret has also been a mentor with Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Livestock-Colorado State University.

John Kieti (Nairobi)

John is a serial entrepreneur, technologist, strategist, startup advisor, m4d researcher, entrepreneur, farmer and blogger. He is interested in how mobile technology is growing East Africa's competitiveness in the knowledge economy. He is currently studying a PhD at the University of Nairobi on information systems, entrepreneurship and agriculture.

James Aucha (Nairobi)

James is a practicing Agripreneur keen to support graduates move from job seekers to job creators. He is currently an agricubusiness programme officer for the African Network for Agriculture, Agroforestry and Natural Resources Education (ANAFE).

He hopes to help his mentee understand the wealth creation niche to occupy, develop business models, pitching the model, creating right partnership for take off and growth and making your money work for you.

James believes there is great potential in agribusiness in Africa and the mentee has a role to not only make money, but create employment for others. Mentorship has a significant role in improving the survival rates of start-ups and he believes his mentee has the potential to achieve (and even surpass) what is set before him/her.

Franklin Simtowe (Nairobi)

Franklin is a senior agricultural economist at ILRI. Prior to this he was a policy economist, responsible for Trade and market Development for The Africa Region at the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).

Franklin has been a lecturer and researcher for most of his life and so his responsibility has naturally involved supervising student research and mentoring them to become good scientists. He is keen to motivate his mentee on how they can grow their career in agriculture and make a difference in African agriculture and how they can also potentially benefit through investment in agricultural enterprises.

Justus Ochieng (Nairobi)

Justus is an agricultural economist with 5 years’ experience in research, monitoring and evaluation, value chain and livelihood analysis. He is currently a research fellow with the Tegemeo Institute of Agricultural Policy and Development and is currently working on rural livelihoods and climate change as well as youth and agriculture (How can we make agriculture as a career choice for the youth).

He has worked with CIAT in Uganda, African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) and ILRI, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Burundi, Rwanda and DRC in research related assignments.

He is a self-starter with good communication, excellent qualitative and quantitative skills, interpersonal and writing skills  His major interests is in market development, technology adoption, climate change and gender and youth's role in agricultural development.

Sarah Ayeri Ogalleh (Nanyuki)

Sarah is a senior scientist at the Centre for Training and Integrated Research in Arid and Semi-Arid Lands Development (CETRAD). Sarah’s work is helping to change traditional beliefs by equipping farmers—both men and women— with the knowledge and means to manage their environment, using scientific facts and participatory methodologies that the local people could understand.                                                                       

Sarah is the Kenyan representative on the Gender Water Alliance (GWA), an East African regional body including scientists from Ethiopia, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda who are experts in water and sanitation and environmental sustainability.

Sarah holds a PhD in natural resources and agriculture from Universität für Bodenkultur in Vienna, Austria.

Beatrice Mugo (Nyeri)

Beatrice Wangui Mugo is a district crops development officer with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Kenya. Beatrice experienced firsthand the income-generating potential of horticultural crops. Her father, a horticultural farmer, educated 11 children with profits from his produce, equipping Beatrice with basic skills and interest in the field. Her expertise in crop production was later gained from her university studies in horticulture and her post-graduate diploma in gender, poverty, and development.

Beatrice is devoted to helping farmers gain access to improved crop technologies in order to boost their food security and livelihoods. She trains farmers to incorporate high-value crops, be more business oriented, and become aware of new innovations, such as greenhouse crop production technology.

Felister Nzuve (Nairobi)

Felister Nzuve is an assistant lecturer at the University of Nairobi. She is hardworking, focused scientist with a vision to contribute to enhanced agricultural productivity.

In 2005, Felister won a partial scholarship from the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research’s Generation Challenge Program on Maize. Immediately following, the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) offered her a PhD scholarship in Plant Breeding and Biotechnology. Since then, her research interests includes developing improved varieties for deployment in the rural areas for the small scale farmers who are resource constrained thus contributing to their improved livelihoods.

She has a strong interest in nurturing young talents through mentoring programs which she currently does at the University of Nairobi. She achieves this through holding regular meetings with the undergraduate students from where she discusses issues concerning career progression, professional growth and life situations at large.

Everlyne Cherobon (Nairobi)

Everlyne is a pro poor development worker with a passion for smallholder farmers of Africa. She founded a local farmers organisation - EMEDEN Kenya - to organize and connect smallholder farmers to markets.

The focus of EMEDEN is an integrated approach to rural development through sustainable agriculture, agribusiness, microfinance, and entrepreneurship development, in addition to addressing social problems affecting rural households such as alcoholism, teenage pregnancies, and HIV/AIDS.

Everlyne is a graduate of agribusiness and agricultural resources management.

Sarah Mukolwe (Nariobi)       

Sarah Akwabi is a livestock research scientist currently working under the directorate of veterinary services in the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Kenya. Her main areas of interest is pests and parasitic diseases of livestock including vector borne parasites.

She has a keen interest in improving quality of livestock among pastoralist communities in Arid and semi Arid Africa through research into diagnostics, vaccines development and treatment. Prior to her role at the ministry, Sarah worked as a Medical representative at SQUARE Pharmaceuticals.