Why Francis Gasana is eager to run Asia's top waterproof tech business

Local businessman, Eng. Francis Gasana, recently landed a juicy deal to represent a top Chinese waterproof technology manufacturer’s business interests in four regional countries, including Rwanda.
Gasana during the interview at his office in Remera, Kigali. / Faustin Niyigena.
Gasana during the interview at his office in Remera, Kigali. / Faustin Niyigena.

Local businessman, Eng. Francis Gasana, recently landed a juicy deal to represent a top Chinese waterproof technology manufacturer’s business interests in four regional countries, including Rwanda.

It comes after the Rwanda Private Sector Federation (PSF) mid last month organised a business expedition to China in which 16 local traders interacted and held trade discussions with potential Chinese investors on possible investment opportunities.

 

“It is an important deal for me. I am looking forward to help address the issue of shortage as the products I will bring to this market are hard to find now. The region will also benefit as jobs will be created,” Gasana said.

 

“My target, or perhaps my dream, in the near future is to set up my own factory here. But it’s challenging because of raw materials. Bitumen is the key raw material and is not found here.”

 

According to Gasana, the company’s main products are rare high quality wall coatings for buildings, as well as geotextile and membrane for tarmac road construction.

Founded in 1998, the Chinese corporation is acknowledged as the leading company on waterproof materials R&D, manufacturing, sales and construction services. It is on the list of Asia’s 500 most influential brands, national high-tech enterprise and the first listed company of Chinese waterproof industry.

“It is a big company; covering 90 per cent of the Chinese market. Their waterproof product is the best for constructing swimming pools. So is the coating for houses since in Rwanda, walls often peel off due to humidity,’’ Gasana said.

During their July 17-26 trip in Guangdong, a coastal province of southeast China whose capital, Guangzhou, sits within its industrial Pearl River Delta region, Gasana had a “fruitful tête-à-tête” with a sales manager of Beijing Oriental Yuhong Waterproof Technology Co Ltd.

“I let him know that I didn’t want to just buy from them. I said, ‘can I be your representative; buying but also representing you? And he agreed. I then informed him that I actually want to represent them in east Africa, not Rwanda alone.”

As the company already had representatives in Kenya and Tanzania, it was concluded that Gasana, a practiced surveyor, would represent them in Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and DR Congo.

One of his companies, Scaletech Ltd, will handle Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi, while another, Geosurveys International, handles Rwanda and DR Congo. The agreement is that each of his companies makes three million Chinese Yuan, nearly $450,000, annually.

And he is not intimidated by these targets.

“I am not worried because if you were, let’s say, going to order for the product for a 10 kilometer road, it can’t go for less than $200,000 because tarmac road construction is very expensive.”

“And these will be the first such products in Rwanda. I will be a wholesaler supplying many retailers in the whole market in these countries.”

After learning about the Chinese company, Gasana says, he is well assured about product quality.

“This company doesn’t make second-rate copies for various markets but only one type. What I will be bringing to Rwanda and the region will be the first quality which is all they make and send to Europe and elsewhere. That’s what our agreement says, and I am lucky it is only one quality they produce.”

The deal – whose grace period ends in December – is such that only Gasana represents the company in the four countries. It can be canceled only if he fails to meet agreed targets.

According to PSF, the main objective of the local business people’s trip was to discover new business opportunities, conduct market research and forge possible partnerships with Chinese investors as Rwanda continues to strategically attract more foreign direct investment to sustain its economic growth.

According to Stephen Ruzibiza, the PSF chief executive, their main focus is to come up with strategies to attract more foreign investors in our private sector to boost our local production.

“To achieve this, however, we try to link the local investors to their international counterparts in order to share experience and discuss trading partnerships,” he said.

Virgile Rwanyagatare, Rwanda’s deputy Ambassador to China said, “The strategy is also to convince big Chinese companies to relocate and operate in Rwanda. This will help in technology transfer to our country.”

About Gasana

Gasana has been in business for more than 10 years. The 37-year-old father of two holds a masters degree in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing from Manchester Metropolitan University, a British public university located in North West England.

His two companies; Scaletech Ltd and Geosurveys International, do construction and service provision, and surveying and study services, respectively.

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