It has been a year since Anitah Kansiime established her own business – a yoghurt manufacturing company operating in Nyagatare District.
Graduating from college after specialising in vocational studies in agriculture, most would have expected her to follow the much trodden path of seeking employment in a local company. However, she chose a different path- she wanted to be her own boss.
She was ready to start off a business building on an idea she had had for a while that would require the few resources she had at the time.
First, she explored the possibility of growing beetroot and producing juices and wines out of it. This, she figured would not be as productive considering that there were many entrepreneurs involved in it who had been doing it for a long while.
Kansiime during an interview at The New Times Publications offices at Gishushu last week.
It is then that she remembered a course unit, during her university studies whereby together with her colleagues, they had successfully produced yoghurt as part of a course work. The result of the exercise she said “were perfectly.”
“So I decided to try it again. I did it once, twice, thrice and it came out well,” she said.
Having a cousin who had done the same course, she sought him out to inquire where she could get the materials to commence the operations.
At the start, she had a capital of about Rwf400,000, raised from small savings from her tasks working for a number of farmers earning about Rwf45 000. She also had some money she had received as a graduation gift from her family members.
“The materials I required were affordable enabling me to start the business. I could afford them. Then I decided to give it a try,” she said.
She chose to set her business in Nyagatare considering that the area has plenty of milk, which was the main raw material for yoghurt.
“There were also cases of malnutrition in the place. Yogurt is a nutritious drink. So, I wanted to present it as a solution and intervention to end the status quo,” she said.
Kicking off she was producing and selling about 38 liters of yoghurt.
The business has been working out, despite being a couple of challenges that would deter its growth. These challenges include lack of capital to grow aspects of her enterprise.
For instance, she still lacks a refrigerated car to transport her products to date.
Yet, this has not stopped her from making strides. She has managed to increase her production by about four times from the time she started, as she is currently producing about 150 litres of yoghurt per week.
This is in different flavours including vanilla, mixed fruit, straw berry, plain, chocolate, and beetroot.
“It’s all about strategizing. You must be able to bring up something unique,” she said.
“I introduced rare flavours like beetroot as a new thing on the market as a strategy,” she said.
She however recognised that people still need to learn more about the new flavours like beetroot in order to grow her market.
The largest volume of her production is strawberry yoghurt, since people prefer it.
She is able to sell all her weekly production during the course of the week, during the sunny season. In the rainy season, it takes longer.
“People take more yoghurt in the sunny season. When it’s rainy, they don’t take it as much,” she said.
Though transportation being an issue, her immediate market is the Eastern Province where she says that her marketing strategy is door-to-door.
“I go to different shops and say: look, it’s a new product, it’s delicious and affordable,” she said.
Her products go for 280 Rwf (the 250ml bottle), and 500rwf for the 500ml package.
“The business’s growth is promising. I think I am holding it back since I don’t have enough capacity to produce in larger quantities and frequency of production,” she said.
She aspires to reach out to all the market in Rwanda, but she knows this requires more capital and she has to look for ways,
“If I could get a way of getting capital, it would solve everything. The product is good, going by the feedback we get. If I can get a car, more machinery, and improve the technology used, I can do much better,” she said.