Paul Kipsiele Koech, the 2004 Olympic 3,000m steeplechase bronze medalist, is not your ordinary Kenyan celebrity.
He has established a multi-million shilling business empire. But the coronavirus pandemic has dealt him a big blow.
He runs Kaso Dairy Farm and Kaso Bakeries in Kapchepkoro in Sotik, Bomet County.
“The situation is a blow not only to me as an athlete but as a businessman and a farmer. I supply bread to four secondary schools within the county. There is no substitute market now that the schools were closed abruptly.
“I also supply milk to dispensers in Kaplong, Litein and Sotik. The demand has gone down in recent weeks. Most of the farmers will bear huge loses,” he said.
Kipsiele says the farm currently produces more than 350 litres of milk daily. Had they sold this milk to processors at the market price of Sh30, the farm would make Sh10,000 daily from raw milk.
“At the moment, I sell my milk to Kenya Cooperative Creameries (KCC) in Sotik. I ferry it there daily,” he said.
Kipsiele, who is best known to have competed in 67 international competitions in 3,000m steeplechase race, made brilliant steps in his dairy farming.
He has adopted value-addition as a way of reaping maximum returns and makes yoghurt and fermented milk (mala).
“I sought help from professionals to ensure that I head in the right direction,” he said.
He started with three cows which he used to give him between 18 and 20 litres per day in 2005.
He tried his hand in dairy farming after earning Sh300,000 at the Golden League in Stockholm, Sweden.
He set up a zero-grazing unit for his cows while improving their feeds.
At the moment, he uses 200 litres of to make yoghurt and mala every day.
The yoghurt sells at Sh120 per litre while mala goes for Sh80 per litre.
The remaining milk is sold directly to consumers at Sh50 per litre.
Kipsiele says he juggles between training sessions and his businesses.
“I go for training and thereafter get back to the farm. It is not easy managing the crisis.
“We hope the situation will be put under control very soon so that we can resume our daily routine,” he said.
As an ambassador of Absa Bank, Kipsiele is among a legion of world-beating athletes that stand to lose millions of money in product endorsements after signing lucrative deals.
“We were set to have two functions but the situation could not allow to do so,” said Kipsiele, the third-fastest steeplechaser in history at 7:54.31.
World record-holders Eliud Kipchoge (marathon), David Rudisha (800m), 2007 world 800m champion Janeth Jepkosgei and four-time Boston Marathon winner Catherine Ndereba are other Absa Bank ambassadors.