I mentioned paper bag production as one of the business ideas to take center stage in 2017, with several good reasons: the environment has become a serious talking point, plastics and synthetic bags are gradually going out of use, and paper bags are very good for the environment.
In fact, one African entrepreneur started his own paper bag production empire with just $14. Ugandan Andrew Mupuya has been featured on CNN where he was hailed as the ‘Paper Bag King’. His fortunes began when the Ugandan government made a move to stop the use of plastic bags. Taking advantage of this situation, the young Mupuya (a teenager at the time) started a small-scale paper bag production to replace plastic bags.
Recalling the event, Mupuya had said, “I conducted a feasibility study, and market research around retail shops, kiosk, and supermarkets around Kampala, and discovered that there is a need and a potential market for paper bags.” Today Mupuya is 21 years old and employs 16 staffs, producing 20,000 paper bags per week. Mupuya’s story is a clear signal that there is so much profit to be made in paper bag production business, whether it is on a small-scale or a large-scale.
Why paper bags?
Plastic bags pose a grave threat to the health of the environment. This growing awareness has opened up a wide market for paper bag producers. Some countries have even placed a total ban on the use of plastic bag – most notable is India.
Smart entrepreneurs such as Bilikiss are making a name from clearing the environment of plastic waste. Other smart entrepreneurs such as Mupuya are making a fortune from replacing plastic bags with paper bags. Whichever route you choose, it pays to take care of the environment.
Starting a business requires tremendous effort on the part of the entrepreneur to ensure success in the long run. Most business men who have succeeded in turning a business idea into a business empire will agree that the major requirements for a successful business are: a detailed feasibility study, an excellent business plan and finance.
A feasibility study is vital for ensuring success in paper bag production. It involves a detailed and comprehensive research on the market size, customer preference, presence of other competitors, and specification of any risk that might be associated with the business. A feasibility study will determine if the business is worth venturing into, or if it will turn out to be a total waste of time.
You need to know who needs paper bags and how you can reach them. Mupuya started by supplying his paper bags to restaurants and supermarkets. Who is your customer?
Mupuya started with $14 but he was a pioneer in Uganda and he had time to perfect his business.
Write a business plan
Just like any other business, starting up paper bag production requires a business plan. The business plan should contain all the plans put together to ensure the success of the business. All the results and findings obtained from the feasibility study should be well captured in the business plan. This helps not only to keep the business in focus of its present and future goals, but also to serve as a document for obtaining loans.
Every business requires capital. The amount of fund available will determine the scale of the business. You should have enough funds to cover materials and equipment, cost of machinery, labour, rent, etc. Don’t let the cost discourage you. You can start small and grow. The main point is to start. To begin a small-scale paper bag production business, the basic raw materials required include: Paper in rolls, gum, printing ink, eyelet and lace.
The bag manufacturing process is remarkably simple. It involves cutting the paper roll into required sizes using a cutting machine, after which the paper is folded, gummed, and sheared. In large-scale production, an automatic paper making machine is used to fold the paper into bag forms which can be done manually in a smaller setting. Eyeleting and lacing the paper bags can also be done manually or with the aid of a machine. Eyeleting involves perforating a hole in the bag where a lace (serves as a handle) can pass through.