Mutumba Turns Cosmetics Into Money-Minting Project [analysis]

Uganda is known to be a place where business start-ups struggle through their first months of operation. The rate at which small businesses collapse before celebrating their first anniversary is alarming, with the figure above 50 per cent. Andrew Mutumba, the founder of MUM’s Products Ltd, is one of those whose future appears bright as he prepares to make it through the first year of business.

In May last year, Mutumba started MUM’s Products Ltd, which produces cosmetics and detergents such as hair conditioners, shampoos and liquid soaps. While he continues to encounter a number of challenges such as limited access to cheaper capital, for Mutumba, failure is not an option.

Initially, Mutumba says he set the venture as a side business to supplement his salary income from Radio OneAkaboozi Ku Bbiri, where works as an aertising and marketing executive. He used Shs 2m as start-up capital.

Ten months later, Mutumba is excited about the venture’s progress in terms of sales. MUM’s products have become household names in a market that was previously dominated by reputable local and Kenyan cosmetics’ brands. Today, Mutumba says he supplies his products to about 300 saloons in Kampala alone.

MUM’s products, packed in 300ml, 500ml, one and five-litre plastic containers, cost between Shs 8,000 and Shs 30,000. Today, Mutumba has more than tripled his production due to overwhelming demand for MUM’s products. For instance, production for his most sought-after aloe vera shampoos and liquid soap has increased to 3,000 litres per month.

“I have the capacity to produce more and meet the demand but I’m restricted by space,” says Mutumba, who rents his mother’s garage in Kkonge. He recently applied for seed capital from the Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU), which offers competitive grants aimed for Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) upstarts.

His application emerged second best, earning MUM’s Shs 2m. The best entrepreneur got Shs 5m. Mutumba plans to use the money to create bigger space for his business. He has already identified land for rent in Kireka, where he intends to set up a semi-permanent factory and office structures.

“I want to push MUM’s products onto the regional market by the end of this year and Rwanda is my first target,” says Mutumba.

His wife, who hails from Rwanda, is the face of MUM’s products. Mutumba is one of the successful entrepreneurs from PSFU’s mentorship programmes. During the three-day SME review event held last month at Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA) main hall, Mutumba tipped fellow SMEs on marketing their products.

Mutumba got the inspiration to start his business after he attended a three-day training programme by Maalik Fahd Kayondo, the founder of Telesat International, which works with PSFU to impart practical skills for business upstarts.

From humble beginnings on William Street in the city centre, Mutumba employs two former street boys, his undergraduate brother and wife. In less than a year, Mutumba says MUM’s produces more than 5,000 litres of shampoo and liquid soap for more than 400 customers, especially saloons, households and schools.

Recently, Mutumba’s business story featured on CNN’s African Voices, which picks out some successful upstarts on the continent.

Source : The Observer

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