What you need to know:
- For Kitandwe, what started as a side hustle in university has become his major business and a source of pride. He shares his story to inspire many that are uncertain of their employment chances in post-university days.
“My worry about getting a job after university and the passion to be self-employed triggered my dream of a home service company.’’
Those were Andrew Kitandwe’s words as we settled for an interview at his office premises in Kawaala, Kasubi, Rubaga Division in Kampala.
Kitandwe, 25, is the manager of Handi Home Services Ltd, a company that offers different services such as cleaning, painting and fumigation.
“While at Kyambogo University in my third year. I started thinking of a service I could render that beats the social norm. I felt that people think of cleaning as a feminine role,”he recounts.
“So, I hired a cleaning machine and started offering services to some university staff and homesteads,’’ he adds.
When he completed his Bachelor’s degree in Social Work and Social Administration in 2019, there was no immediate job to earn him a living. His parents also stopped providing the financial aid. They had other responsibilities at hand.
“I looked around and realised getting a job was not going to be rosy. The cleaning venture popped up in my mind. I decided to do it full-time,’’ Kitandwe recalls.
After some research, he decided to continue hiring a cleaning machine and other equipment using savings he had accumulated from a university savings groups. He was later able to raise more money and registered the business in October 2020.
Kitandwe says the first few months in business were rough.
“After hiring the equipment, I started waiting for customers, but I never got any. I realised nobody knew my company. The experience almost made me give up, but things changed when I started marketing my services on social media,’’ he says.
Some businesses are said to have grown by word of mouth. However, in the digital era, especially in this social media age, Kitandwe realised that his only way out was to create different social media pages for his company and take advantage of the different platforms.
“I created social media pages for the company on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and a WhatsApp business page. I keep updating them with current information in line with the services I offer,’’ Kitandwe adds. The soft spoken young man has now been able to print posters and business cards that he uses to physically market Handi Home Services. In October last year, despite the Covid-19 challenges, he was able to buy his own cleaning equipment worth Shs5million.
Kitandwe has built his reputation as a reliable service provider and his clientele base grows daily.
Today, he manages a team of 50 people. His core responsibility lies in marketing, operations and customer relations.
“I have learnt that the face and progress of any business lies in marketing and branding. You are the number one ambassador of your business,’’ he says.
Cheers and tears
Kitandwe says his entrepreneurship journey has had a share of challenges; tears and happy moments. He says the core challenge is access to finance for expansion and growth. He advises starters to open an account, have a good financial ethic and create a good rapport with the bank.
“Since the company is still growing, it outsources most of its equipment and professional workers.
So it is tricky when appointments are made and the workers have to deal with a particular service on the same day or when the equipment that is supposed to be used is off for another duty,’’ Kitandwe says.
His advice to young and aspiring graduate entrepreneurs is “not to worry about starting because not every successful individual started from where they are. I encourage university graduates to think about starting up personal initiatives so that they become their own bosses.’’
On top skills needed to thrive in business, Kitandwe says priority is customer care.
“The way you talk, handle or treat clients determines how far you will navigate in business.’’
Kitandwe adds that any business requires patience. He cites the Covid-19 period that nearly ripped the company apart.
“Most people closed businesses. We went down in business, but consistency has kept us alive,’’ he says.
He also advises graduates to always pray because “prayer opens doors of favour, gives grace during the dry season and peace in happy times.’’
In future, he hopes to serve high-end and middle income clients without compromising quality. He also wishes to network with great minded-people and impact lives.