Taita Ngetich, 29



Ngetich is a 2016 Mandela Washington Fellow and a leadership and innovation graduate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Currently, he is studying for his MBA at the University of Warwick.

He founded Synnefa, an agritech startup to provide smart solutions such as efficient use of water, to make farmers climate-resilient.

He has secured funding from multiple organisations, including Founders Factory Africa, Water and Energy for Food, and Google Black Founders Fund Africa.

"Surround yourself with friends and family members who believe in you. Not those who think your business idea will fail."

On his most important lesson from building a business from the ground up, Ngetich says it is failure that unlocks success.

There is, however, a caveat. “Surround yourself with friends and family members who believe in you. Not those who think your business idea will fail.”

His vision? “We are positioning Synnefa to be Africa’s leading agro fintech by generating farm data sets that we can use to determine farmers’ credit scores for lending.”

Any regrets about his early 20s? Only pride, he says. “I partied a lot when I was in my 20s. I married at 25 because I wanted to settle and focus on building Synnefa. I do not regret anything.

He adds: “I represented Kenya in multiple global startup competitions. In 2015, I was second at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit.”

Over time, the University of Nairobi graduate says he has learned to embrace failure and to use it as a launchpad to better things.

“It has enabled me to build resilience and to unlock growth.” If he could have an audience with Kenya’s smallholder farmers, Ngetich would drum the point of the reality of climate change home. “It is real and it is here. We must adopt modern farming technologies that will boost our resilience.”

He adds: “This is the time to start using digital tools to digitise your farm operations and monetise a new agricultural commodity: carbon credits.”

He struggles to stay positive, he says, noting that the journey sometimes gets lonely.

“Things sometimes do not work out. Products fail. Or sources of funding disappear.” He spends such moments reflecting on his journey. “I remind myself that I am where I wanted to be eight years ago when all I had was an idea.” Ngetich says he is averse to mediocrity.

“I constantly work on first improving my skills and knowledge to offer quality assurance to my clients and partners.”

James Kahongeh