Saturday March 19 2016

From casual worker to making soap

Mustafa Kasirye (R) joins one of his employees

Mustafa Kasirye (R) joins one of his employees to pour liquid soap into jerrycans. The soap is made in the evening but stays in the plastic drums overnight. PHOTO BY AMOS NGWOMOYA 

By Amos Ngwomoya

Mustafa Kasirye has no regrets as he looks back to the casual work he did five years ago at Right Sun Enterprises a soap making company in Bweyogerere, Wakiso District.
Kasirye, then a fresh graduate from Kyambogo University, was a casual labourer at the detergents company.
While pursuing a Diploma in Business Administration, the 30-year-old always dreamt of becoming either a manager in a big company or a bank teller.
However, his dream hit a dead end when he walked the streets looking for employment in vain. But Kasirye did not give up. He instead looked for any casual work that could earn him a wage.
Fortunately, he landed a job as a casual labourer at Right Sun Enterprises and took keen interest in how they made liquid soap.

With the Shs500,000 he made from the company, and the skills he had acquired, Kasirye invested in making his own liquid soap.
“I decided to give making liquid soap a try because I had seen the demand it had. I use sulfuric acid, caustic soda, salt, urea, perfume and water as raw materials,” he says.
Today, Kasirye runs a liquid soap processing firm and supplies Right Star liquid soap in Kampala and surrounding areas.

Making the soap
Kasirye secured a two-room wooden structure in Kavule-Bweyogerere with the help of a friend. He uses one room as his office and the other as working space.
Kasirye has always had love for business. In Senior One, he started a salon to help him raise money for some of his school requirements. When he finished university in 2007, he tried establishing a boutique but later closed it.
“I never enjoyed the fruits of the boutique so I decided to try some other venture that would bring in more money,” Kasirye says.

Kasirye’s day begins at 6am, at which time he is already on his way to Kampala to buy jerrycans in which to pack the liquid soap.
When he gets to his work station, he makes sure that all the working tools are clean in order to produce a good detergent that cannot get spoilt.
Kasirye says he mixes the soap in the evening in two drums each with a capacity to producing 10 jerrycans. He later uses a litmus paper to see if the soap is good.

“If the paper changes colour, it means the soap is bad.”
Every day, he supplies at least 50 jerrycans. Each jerrycan goes for Shs20,000. Though, he supplies on credit, he says that at the end of the month, he takes home Shs2.5 million after deducting rent and wages for his employees.
Kasirye says ever since he started making the detergent, he has never received complaints. This has earned him trust from big companies.
“I make sure that I make a product that will leave my clients happy. When you make fake products, you can never succeed in business.” he says.
Kasirye says his breakthrough came in 2010 when he sold 50 jerrycans of liquid soap to Shanghai Restaurant. They liked his detergent and kept on ordering for more. Through this, many companies got to know him.

However, Kasirye says the raw materials he uses in producing the detergent are very expensive and he buys them from supermarkets.
“I buy these raw materials expensively but I have to keep moving on because I don’t want to disappoint my clients. I spend about Shs300,000 a week on raw materials,” Kasirye says.
Kasirye confesses to have jumped many hurdles. For instance, he pays Shs150, 000 as rent for the structure which houses his business. He says he faces tough competition and yet his capital is still low.

Kasirye recalls that in 2013, he made a loss of Shs1.5 million when one of his workers used excess salt and spoilt the whole liquid he had planned to supply.
“Losses happen in business, I prayed to God to comfort me. I didn’t sack the employee who did it but rather took time to teach him how to mix the detergent,” recalls Kasirye.
Kasirye employs three young men who help him at the workstation because of his busy schedule. He pays them on weekly basis which has helped him run the business. He also says he has trained several youth who have also started earning a living.
Kasirye’s clients are mainly schools and hotels because they buy his product in bulk. He says people get to know him through those speak to them about his detergent. “Many people call me placing orders and they often tell me that they were connected by people who had used my detergent.”

Through his business, Kasirye has built a house in Bweyogerere and bought a car (Caldina), which he uses for supplying the liquid soap.
“I bought the car in order to help me deliver the soap on time. I am also happy that my children are in school and besides, I have my own capital,” he says.
Mr Asuman Bakyenga, a manager at Golden Hotel, Kireka, says they have been using Kasirye’s liquid soap for four years and have no regrets. “Kasirye’s liquid soap is exceptional because we haven’t got any problems with it so far. The other thing is that he uses recommendable raw materials,” says Bakyenga.

Future plan
Aside from making liquid soap, Kasirye also makes candles and wood preservatives. He hopes to expand his business by establishing his own company and start producing at least 1,000 jerrycans a week. He also plans to start making other products such as hair shampoo.
With the decision he made to first become a casual worker, he advises that people should never shun jobs because humble beginnings come with great opportunity.

“People should know that chances of finishing school and getting a job are very rare. They should never despise jobs because one can get their own capital. Self-employment will always remain the best because you become your own boss.”
Kasirye’s business principle is respect for clients because he believes it is the only way one can make it in business. “The more you respect clients, the more opportunities you get since these same clients will connect you to something big as a reward for your honesty.”