Eric Kaduru, the co-founder of KadAfrica Ltd, an organisation which economically empowers young out of school girls, is an interesting character. He has trotted the globe, living in eight different countries including Nigeria, South Africa and the UK while growing up.
At first impression, one may perceive him as a baller, given the youthful aura about him. In reality, Eric is just a focused and persistent young man, who through farming has created unforgettable positive change for young women in Fort Portal.
However, Eric never thought he would be a farmer. Even while he now enjoys wearing gumboots and strolling around the farm, it was not something he had lived to do. He had pursued sales and marketing for a local firm in Uganda before opening out his own advertising agency, notching some top clients like Shoprite Supermarkets and Stanbic Bank.
Under his belt were tucked 6 years marketing and branding experience and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in International Relations from Monash University in South Africa.
His career was successful, even when it was still rising; but he was a young man, and he felt he could do more. In 2011, he moved to Fort Portal where his father had purchased a 25 acre piece of land that lay undeveloped. Here, his farming journey begun. He ventured out dealing in vegetables, which he abandoned due to their short shelf life for the more long lasting passion fruit. Two years later, results were already being seen.
In 2013, together with Rebecca Kaduru as co-founders of KadAfrica, they won the Young Achievers Award for farming and agro-processing.
“Our initiative was very innovative. It focuses on two things that are very important in Africa right now: women empowerment and agriculture. I feel these were key as to why we were awarded this” he said in an interview with The Young Achievers Awards.
KadAfrica came by to solve two key challenges. One was the fact that 70% of Uganda’s passion fruit supply was from Kenya, and the other was that young out of school girls needed a source of income. The model designed was to initiate the girls into the program with a comprehensive training on passion fruit growing, give them seeds to plant and provide them market by buying back their produce at harvest.
Today it has grown to facilitate over 2000 girls in passion fruit growing, many of whom have seen their monthly income rise from an average $3 to $20. KadAfrica focuses on passion fruit farming and has changed the mindsets of young people by demonstrating that Farming can be a source of income and not just a chore delegated to the women in rural communities.
He applauds the Young Achievers Award, for giving him the much needed endorsement to push on.
“Receiving the Young Achievers Award showed me that my work was being recognised and appreciated, and with this drive I knew I had to work harder to maintain the standard we had achieved” he added.
To other young people out there wildly chasing their dreams, he recommends persistence as a way to achieve them. “Persistence is everything. You fall, fail, get up and try again” he concludes.
Eric is proof that farming is not an activity for only the old. It can be a big business for young people to reap big, without losing their youthful vibe.