Written by: Rosie Dupont, Foundation Intern (2021)
As Divine currently works at Nourish, where I have been staying, I have had the pleasure of getting to know him over the past few weeks. To introduce Divine in words is near impossible. His personality can be described as nothing less than larger than life- when he arrives every morning you will hear his laughter before you see him and his kindness, enthusiasm and passion has continued to inspire me throughout my stay here.
Divine was working in the garden at Nourish since before he was a participant in the program, holding workshops about permaculture and teaching the community about backyard gardens. When Farmers of the Future (FotF) started here, he jumped at the opportunity. He now has a small business owning chickens and selling organic eggs within his community, but that is not all- “they saw something in me, that I can also be a trainer”. Which doesn’t surprise me, as it doesn’t take very long to see the potential in Divine. Since graduating the program, he has been involved in the training of the most recent participants, which he’s very excited about (a phase which was repeated often- there is a lot here that excites him). Maybe because of this, I’m not sure there could be a better trainer or advocate for FotF. In his own words, “It’s a program that I’ve enjoyed so much and I so wish that it can continue and help other people because I have seen that it helped me, and there are people that it is going to help as I will be there monitoring them and assisting them”.
“no we don’t need money, we need knowledge… because if we can have money without knowledge the money will be useless”.
When I ask what the most useful part of the program was for him, he enthusiastically starts talking about all the business skills he learnt. Before the program, he had started a business but he describes how he wouldn’t record how much he spent on resources, or pay attention to how much he was selling his product for. “I didn’t even know whether the business was working, whether as people are buying I was getting a profit or if it’s a waste of time”, but after his training he is now handling his finances more effectively. He explains how a lot of businesses in his area fail due to lack of business skills, but now he has the knowledge to help, he provides mentoring to anyone he can find that is struggling with their business. “Even when you are not part of farmers of the future participant, but I can see you with a business, I want to try and intervene”.
To Divine, knowledge is key. When his friends and family were apprehensive about the program as there are no stipends for attending, Divine wasn’t deterred; “no we don’t need money, we need knowledge… because if we can have money without knowledge the money will be useless”. He is also a big advocate of patience, a trait which he attributes to his FotF training.
He has an analogy for this which he has explained to me often; “everything in life doesn’t come with a microwaved meal, if we are going to have noodles everyday then we are not going to be a good country”. This makes me laugh, as most of what Divine says does, but the lesson is a valuable one- “I’ve learnt that perseverance is a matter of success, and then we need to be patient in everything that we do, we need to work hard in order for something to be successful”.
Alongside being patient and seeing the value in knowledge, one of the main pieces of advice Divine has for anyone starting their own business is to love what they do. And to no surprise, Divine is very good at living by his own advice. “You know I love when I see them laying eggs, it excites me, it ignites my spirit, it makes my day”. Even before going to visit him for the interview, Divine insisted he took me to his house to meet his chickens. We walked into his ‘chicken room’ and he energetically picked one up and handed it to me, before taking pictures proudly. A similar series of events happened when I met his baby son, which I think says quite a lot.
Divine has dreams to expand his farm on a bigger plot of land, first to supply his eggs to his community and local bakeries, and then to big supermarkets and the lodges that surround this area. He says he wants 5000 chickens- which is a bit of a change from the 68 he currently has. But for now, although his business is small, the accomplishment is still great. “There’s a step that I’ve took. There’s a walk to freedom, I can see my freedom there, so that’s a big achievement to me”.