By Elias Hakizimana.
Shaffy Hagenimana, the CEO and Founder of Holly Trust Limited that produces honey-based Kaso Products in Musanze District explains his business journey that has led to a very success story in honey processing into beauty and body nourishing and moisturising oil.
His firm produces various products and the idea has a root in his childhood when he was in senior four of secondary school.
The main products of his firm include Kaso Castor Oil, Kaso Shea Butter, Kaso Coconut Oil, Kaso Avocado Oil, Kaso Pumpkin Oil, Kaso Cream, Kaso Jelly, Pollen Jelly, White Honey, Black Honey and Beeswax.
Learning from his own illness experience, that experience pushed him to invest part of his school living allowance to start a bee keeping project as a source of having honey to produce medicine.
“I had respiratory complications and I needed natural honey to produce traditional medicine. I was living at Kabungo ….. where it was difficult to find honey and the little available quantity such natural sweet product was expensive. I decided later to take Rwf7,000 from my Rwf20,000 which is my pocket money at school and I bought a bee hive so that I get honey to make a medicine,” Hagenimana said.
After six months investing in this bee hive start up, the young student got a produce of 10 kg of honey and he successfully tried to share with his neighbours who sought a help from him as they also wanted honey for medicine.
Learning to solve community problems, expanding honey production
“I later linked my lessons in ‘Entrepreneurship’ with available problems in the locality to make a business from such a scenario,” he reveals, pointing out that “from the 10 obtained kilos of honey, I used 2 kilogrammes as a medicine for my respiratory illness and I sold the 8 kgs, getting me Rwf24,000 in return that helped me to expand my project.”
From only one bee hive, the young man now has 6,000 bee hives. He is working in different areas of the country and the produced honey contributes in processing other products.
Hagenimana said that in the research he conducted about the productivity, 57% of honey produce is (pure) honey, while 43% remain wastes after the research.
The young man has a new strategy to feed bees so that in two months one bee hive can give between 45 kgs and 60kgs. He said the initiative will help bee farmers to increase honey production.
Turning honey wastes into face and hair oil
He thought on how to recycle the honey wastes into beauty oil, like Beeswax, Pollen Jelly targeting to export.
Currently, Hagenimana has found value in honey ‘wastes’ which he says is, in fact, a big source of beauty oil.
“I have a market of Beeswax in Matonge in Belgium, where I send 400 pieces (500 grams each) and 270 pieces of Pollen Jelly once in a year. I also export the same quantity to Nigeria twice a year.We are processing anointing oil honey wastes. We also produce castor oil mixed with honey and castor. We have two kinds of oil which are ‘honey oil, honey waste oil. We added castor oil in honey to produce the anointing oil that helps people with skin head to recover their hairs and it is good for women with poor hair nutrients,” he noted.
His company has a new project dubbed ‘KASO PROGRAM’ that will help to employ 3,000 young girls in partnership with Rwanda Youth in Agriculture Forum (RYAF).
“Most of people neighbouring Gishwati are lucky to grow bees but they get a bad produce that is between 57% and 47% due to limited knowledge to grow bees. We need to train young girls in that location on proper collection of honey wastes and we are ready to buy it at affordable price to help them change the life, for example we can give them Rwf2,000 per kg if they bought it at Rwf500.” said Hagenimana.
Hagenimana said that the first challenge is the standardization mark (S-MARK) that is still expensive to afford unlike the government tried to ease the process.
“As a young man I need policies to facilitate me and youth in general still have a problem of capital, which I can link to S-MARK cost. We have a small capital and financial liquidity, the banks do not trust us and no other person can trust you to give you ever Rwf2 million as a loan.” He said.
He said that the price for S-MARK is around $2,000. Himself calculates over Rwf1,600,000 to pay this certification of standards. However, he thanks ‘Zamukanubuziranenge programme’ by Rwanda Standards Board (RSB) that later facilitated them in going through the process and they hope to get S-MARK by April, 2019.
“We wish to have good policies to help youth in no matter way. Due to limited capital, we fail to expand our production because banks do not trust us. We also need government’s efforts to help us in terms of exports without only considering the big companies and for sure, we all support innovations,” he said.
The company linked capacity with RYAF and so far they established a common shop in Kigali to sell their products.
In two years by now, they expect to reach out countrywide after having other four shops functioning.
Since 2018, the company is getting first returns on investment in terms of net profit, employing 60 permanent workers working door to door.
The door to door market helps clients access the products without going to the factory.
His employees are paid between Rwf240,000 and Rwf350,000 in monthly salary .
“There is now a huge progress as we have proceeds on investment. By November 2019, we plan to have 140 employees working door to door.”
The company now produces 2tonnes per week, which can also have impact on exports. It has five machines, including the recently imported one worth $17,000.
The factory under progress
“We have a big space and we are building a factory. In coming days, we will no longer be renting the workplace. It is expected to be officially open by 2020 as we are first working to meet all RSB requirements [for standard certification],” Hagenimana.
His business has grown to the extent that whoever needs to be a member or shareholder has to pay $120,000 (about Rwf100 million).
“People are giving me $90,000 to pay the 60% of my investment and be a member, and I need $120,000,” he said.
Since 2016, his dreams were of develop significant export commodities from bees.
“Honey products come after coffee and tea in exports, my dreams is also to have big quantity for exports,” he said.
Going forward to.expand his export market, the young man is targeting to enter Matonge area in Belgium to supply 60 percent of its population by 2023.
The current export price for oil is 17 Euros for one piece (about Rwf17,000), while the local price is Rwf 9.000.
In Rwanda, he supplies his products to many supermarkets.
On December 27, 2018, he participated to the exhibition in Nairobi-Kenya.
In 2017, Hagenimana said, he won a best young innovator during the International Trade Fair.
Only in that year, he said he got six (6) trophies as best exhibitor in various exhibition places.
Also, he received the best retailer award in 2018.
Message to youth
Hagenimana advises youth to have the culture of saving, starting from Rwf100 per day, making the Rwf3,000 per month and Rwf 360,000 per year.
“Myself began with Rwf7,000. They can start with Rwf 360,000 to invest in their businesses without relying on public employment, they should learn how to invest little and get much in return.” he advised youth.
Call for BDF Intervention
“I request The Business Development Fund (BDF) to work with youth entrepreneurs by giving them the truth that is there to have a loan. We are always told that we will get a loan but most of companies of youth extinct while still waiting for loans. We need to know the truth on funding,” Hagenimana wondered.
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