Hard work, perseverance and some ‘unearthly’ intervention gave Divine Chickens the wings needed to soar to higher heights in the poultry industry it enjoys today.
This is how budding entrepreneur Lebeus Kandjeke described the early stages of his poultry enterprise. He primarily focuses on the production and rearing of indigenous chicken breeds such as Black Australorp, Rhode Island Red, Khoekhoes, Orpington and Light Sussex.
Kandjeke has of late however been experimenting with the breeding, rearing and selling of broilers and other chicken products.
“We produce our own fertile eggs which are incubated for a period of time, upon hatching, we then sell them to local poultry farmers or upcoming poultry farmers from as little as one-month-old chicks, pullets and chickens.
“Recently, we have decided to broaden our operations and venture into broiler production. These broilers will be packaged into braai packs, which will be supplied to local outlets at a very affordable price. We anticipate production to be ready for the market in mid-February 2022,” he said.
Divine Chicken is a 100% black-owned business with a poultry farm situated in a small village of Rupara, located in the Kavango West region. The business has imprinted its mark as a service driven local poultry supplier within the region and countrywide.
“The business currently employs one permanent caretaker and three causal employees. I personally run the business operations assisted by my mother who is my business partner and at times my partner who helps out administratively,” he said.
Kandjeke’s interest in farming began in 2001 when his father, who is an educator and a farmer at heart, introduced him to farming. It was through their trips to the farm that his passion for poultry farming also started and subsequently the establishment of Divine Chickens in 2017.
In 2016, Kandjeke lost his job as a banker and the fire for running his own poultry business was further ignited.
“At the time, I found myself in a very dark place in my life. Hence, I always say that chicken farming saved my life because that’s when I started seeing the purpose for my life again. So chicken farming was definitely that light at the end of the tunnel for me and it only continues to groom me into an even better version of myself,” he said
Kandjeke started by buying chicks from local suppliers, rearing them and selling them when they matured. He had at the time purchased a small incubator that had the capacity to incubate 56 eggs.
“At some point as a beginner, I purchased 50 chicks and due to my inexperience, they all died due to the cold. This was obviously devastating and demoralising for someone that was just starting especially with the limited resources i.e. capital at the time.
“I then had to make a decision either to give up or continue since I had already invested in infrastructure. It was from this experience that I decided to invest in an incubator with a capacity to incubate 880 eggs to avert the same experience,” he noted.
Today, Divine Chickens is a flourishing business with a lot of economic potentials. Kandjeke believes the poultry market, although being lucrative requires a lot of patience, passion and should be well managed if one is to reap its benefits.
“Like any other business, one needs to understand the life-cycle of the business. Therefore, it’s not just something a person should enter blindly without any research or a well thought out plan on how they intend to make profits.
“The pie is big enough to be shared by everyone, because at the end of the day, the operations are centred around food production, which is an essential need,” he noted.
It might not all be a rosy affair for beginners, Kandjeke noted, as the business is equally faced with a lot of challenges such as poultry feed, which is highly priced.
“My biggest lesson from this business is that it requires patience in order to persevere. I believe this is primarily because there are a lot of external factors that affect the business operations, which even a poultry farmer cannot control and one important factor is the weather.
“It is easy to lose out in one day on years of investment. My inspiration is to make a difference especially in Kavango West region, which is one of the poorest regions in the country. I want to be an inspiration to the child next door,” Kandjeke noted.