Julius Kaberuka is the founder and owner of Kigali Time Service Limited, a Kigali based company that deals with protocol services for various events.
In 2015, while still at the University, he served as a waiter at a local restaurant which taught him a thing or two in service and kept his dream of starting his own company alive.
From his little earnings, he saved some money and in May last year, he officially started his company with capital of Rwf 100,000.
He spoke to the Business Magazine’s Joan Mbabazi about his journey.
Why did you choose to invest in this sector?
Since I was in the process of completing my Bachelors in Finance at University of Rwanda, I thought it was the right time to start my own business. Given the fact that I had volunteered in a number of hotels as an usher and waiter, I was with no doubt sure that this is the kind of business I wanted to do. It’s uniqueness in Rwanda also pulled me towards it.
What was your experience when starting out?
It seemed a bit tough to penetrate into the market as it had not been commonly done previously. I also did not have much experience.
What are some of the services that you offer?
We started out offering only protocol service (ushering in people at events) however at the moment; we also offer catering services, photography, videography, tents hiring and provision of music systems, depending on what customers prefer. Our prices depend on the number of people attending an event or the size of the venue.
What are some of the challenges you have encountered since you launched your firm?
It is quite expensive to acquire multiple uniforms for my employees as each costs about Rwf30,000. For now, we have one uniform for all events; however, we hope to have multiple uniforms as the company grows to be able to blend in with our clients events and activities.
We also face a problem of language barrier as my team is largely fluent in Kinyarwanda and English, this hinders effective communication for some international visitors who prefer other languages.
More training is also requires to improve our skills in ushering services for instance, there is need to improve on aspects such as body language, facial expression, time management among others. We are currently in a training to improve on our skills.
In this market, it is also quite expensive to advertise via traditional media and since social media alone cannot be enough. Our customer base has grown largely due to word of mouth referrals. Clients who appreciate our services, recommend their friends and relatives to tryout our services.
Any achievements you have gained so far?
I started with 15 employees and at the moment, the number has since grown to 40 with plans to hire more as the company grows. There is a growing demand among our clients to have more qualified workers to perfect the service delivery.
Our network has since grown and we are able to handle different events including weddings, birthday parties, bridal showers, birthday parties and conferences among others.
What are the best and worst seasons for customers and why?
I usually get the majority of customers between July and August because there are more weddings. There are few clients in April and September because they are mostly rainy seasons.
How many events can you have in a month?
In the beginning, I could have about one event per month, currently we handle at least three events every month in a month.
Where do you see your company in the coming years?
I hope to have growth in my customer base and we also have plans to improve on advertising as well as better service provision. Currently, there is not as much competition in the business but that is not an excuse for us to slacken.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start this kind of business?
You do not need to wait to have much capital, start by acquiring necessary equipment with the little money that you have. Study the market; make a business plan and research about the competition.
Be professional and client oriented. Communication and time management are key in any profession.
You don’t need to be an expert, that comes with time and experience.