Esther is the co-founder and managing director of Beta Eco Farms, an organization dedicated to raising awareness on sustainable agriculture, environment protection, and biodiversity conservation. She’s also a mother of four, a book guru, and a nature-lover.
Tell me a bit about yourself.
I grew up in the suburbs and rarely had an opportunity to interact with what I learnt. Even though I excelled in academics, most of what I learnt was more of theories. Upon university graduation, I started my career in a nonprofit organization. As an adult, I came face to face with the reality of my ignorance when I one time during fieldwork interfaced with a cotton plant but could not identify it! As far as I was concerned, I confidently knew what cotton was because I had studied about it in class, done exams and passed! This got me thinking about how many of us adults, not just children, have no idea about the things that we have studied?! As a mother, I purposed to raise children that are practically empowered and hence co-founded Beta Eco Farms in 2020 to bridge the gap between theoretical and practical learning in science, biodiversity conservation, and environmental protection as well as promote education and research on ecosystems restoration for children and young people, so they can naturally develop insights on how the world works.
You mentioned one mission of Eco Beta Farm. How was the Farm started and can you elaborate on its goals?
In 2019, I left formal employment to find something that would allow me to integrate family into what I do. The next year my husband and I co-founded Beta Eco Farms.
Like me, most of the children in the suburbs rarely get an opportunity to interact with what they learn at school, so there is a big gap between their academics and reality. Beta Eco Farm attempts to fill that gap by offering these children an opportunity to practical lessons by letting them immerse and connect with nature. Here for example, children do not just see a picture of the Pawpaw, they get to understand how the fruit comes about, how a plant grows from seeds to maturity via exposure to the farm.
Apart from practical learning, Beta Eco Farm practices Agroecology, which means practical sustainable farming that supports ecosystem restoration, a relatively new concept to the locals. At Beta Eco Farms, trees are home to a number of other living organisms that would otherwise be on the verge of extinction.
We also provide Eco-Tourism products and services. Families and children come to our farm to plant trees, eat fruits, harvest, and most importantly have a pleasure-filled time surrounded by nature.
How has Kyusa training helped you with building Beta Eco Farm?
Kyusa training helped me articulate and understand how my personal mission and values are intertwined with those of the business. When you see how your own values translate into the work you do, you become much more passionate and gain a sense of fulfillment.
Also, I learned about the Business model canvas, how different customer segments connect with a specific part of the business, and how I could reach these customers. For example, at Beta Eco Farms, we provide learners aged 6 to 21 with practical learning about the environment and nature. For tourists, we offer cultural immersion programs so they can see directly how a local Ugandan is living their lives.
I also learned about revenue streams and how to maximize profits, and I love the module on human resources, in specific how to recruit a winning team that supports the values and mission of the project. Before the training, I had all those things vaguely in my mind but Kyusa helped me put things down in process, which was very important.
What has been your biggest challenge so far and how did you overcome it?
I’m a mother of four and must juggle being a mother and an entrepreneur. When I was pregnant with my firstborn, I had a lot of morning sickness. I kept vomiting and was malnourished. Everything in my life was coming to a standstill. My friend, who understood my experience, took me to her home in the countryside. Just spending three days in a fresh environment with green plants and the absence of any pollution helped me heal.
From this personal experience, I realized how much nature has impacted my life and with my business, I can support those who may be experiencing the same challenges I experienced before.
What is your favorite book?
I love Family Wisdom From The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma. This book has simple yet important wisdom on parenting, family, and a natural bond with your loved ones. When my husband and I decided to stay home and take care of the children, I realized that the most important thing any child can get is a connection with their parents. This bond can help a child become more confident. At Beta Eco Farms, we also create a space for families to have novel experiences together while connecting with nature thus strengthening their bond.
What is one thing you want other young people in Uganda to know?
Live your best life now. When I first left formal employment, I didn’t know what the future would hold. But then I kept taking it one step at a time. Find a mentor to hold your hand and walk this journey with you. One step at a time, and one day you’ll see yourself at the finish line.