AFRICANGLOBE – Ten dollars — that’s all that Rwandan science teacher Cephas Nshimyumuremyi had to start his business with two years ago.
It may sound less than promising, but Nshimyumuremyi made that initial initial investment go a long way. Today, his company Uburanga Products, which makes herbal jelly and soap from local medicinal plants, is worth $30,000 and employs 12 workers.
“The $10 helped me to purchase the empty bottle in order to put my product on the market,” says Nshimyumuremyi, winner of the Educat — GT Bank Entrepreneurship Award 2014, a local business prize.
His idea for natural cosmetics with healing properties came from trying to teach his students how the science they were learning in class could be applied in practical ways: “I teach chemistry so I showed my students how you can test a plant, and know the capacity of that plant to kill bacteria,” says the young entrepreneur, who launched his company in a bid to supplement his income from teaching
Nshimyumuremyi also wanted to use the local medicinal plants, used by some traditional healers, in a scientific way. He says his future goal is to provide the solution for “some skin diseases in Africa.”
‘Start With Little, Use Your Knowledge’
Herbs used in Nshimyumuremyi’s remedies are grown in a botanical garden, then dried and mixed to create either soap or jelly. “The products made by Uburanga help the skin to be smooth and they protect from bacteria which can cause skin disease,” says the entrepreneur.
Like with many new businesses, the greatest challenge Nshimyumuremyi had to overcome was getting the word about his product out to a wider audience, without having money to advertise. Another was the high cost of containers in which his products are sold, which he had to import: “In our country there is no industry producing such kind of bottles and cartons, so we purchase them from Kampala [Uganda]),” Nshimyumuremyi says.
His message to fellow would-be entrepreneurs thinking of starting a business is encouraging: “Don’t think that you need a lot of capital,” he says. “Start with little, but use the knowledge and the environment that you already have.”
By: Milena Veselinovic And Marc Hoeferlin