In the heart of Vihiga County, Kenya, a transformative story of determination and entrepreneurial spirit is unfolding.
Rodrick Oware, once a resident of the bustling streets of Nairobi, made a life-altering decision in 2012: to return to his rural roots in Ebusiekwe, Vihiga County.
Little did he know that this decision would lead to the establishment of a thriving business empire, demonstrating the incredible potential of rural entrepreneurship.
Growing up in Nairobi, Oware experienced the harsh realities of urban life, coupled with the challenges of poverty.
Despite the city’s reputation for abundant opportunities, he found himself facing insurmountable difficulties. Nairobi, to him, was a concrete jungle devoid of the opportunities he had hoped for.
“Nairobi ni shamba la mawe [is a concrete jungle].” Oware reflected on his difficult experiences living in the city during a past interview.
However, Oware’s story takes a unique turn. Faced with adversity, he decided to return to his rural village, seeking solace and a chance for a new beginning.
Determined to rebuild his life, Oware started with virtually nothing. His fellow villagers, initially skeptical of his prospects, watched as he embarked on an entrepreneurial journey that would eventually change the community’s outlook.
Undeterred by the doubt surrounding him, Oware ventured into the business of selling seedlings.
Focusing on popular tree species like blue gum, Cyprus, gravellier, and ‘cayaba,’ he catered to the rising demand for these plants, especially for compound fencing purposes. His dedication and hard work paid off as the seedling business flourished. Oware’s entrepreneurial acumen soon led him to expand his operations.
With the growing success of his seedling business, he seized the opportunity to diversify. Oware opened a small kiosk, strategically positioned near his seedling business, offering soft drinks to thirsty passersby.
This move not only provided a steady income stream but also paved the way for his entry into the food industry. Oware’s kiosk became a popular spot, attracting families and travelers alike.
Emboldened by his achievements, Oware ventured even further. He transformed his establishment into the Roddy-Ecosystem, a full-fledged hotel situated in Ebuyangu, Emuhaya subcounty.
This hotel, built upon the foundation of his seedling business, became a cherished destination for tourists and locals, showcasing Oware’s entrepreneurial prowess and commitment to his community’s growth.
Oware’s journey did not end there.
When the county introduced policies promoting bamboo cultivation, he recognized the potential for another profitable venture. With an eye for sustainability and innovation, he invested in bamboo farming.
His vision extended beyond personal gain; Oware sought to educate others about the importance of trees and the remarkable potential of bamboo as a cash crop. He passionately advocates for diversifying economic activities beyond traditional paths, emphasizing the need for open minds and embracing unconventional opportunities.