When the Ugandan government proposed a bill to ban the production of plastic bags in 2008, a 16-year-old boy made it his mission to profit from the new environmental conservation laws. Andrew Mupuya, now 25 has been hailed as the “Paper Bag King” but his humble beginnings reveal he worked hard to earn that title. In an interview with international news network CNN, Andrew’s story is recounted. “In 2008, when both of Mupuya’s parents had lost their jobs and could only afford to cover his school fees… ” Andrew told the interviewer, “I had to get to meet my basic needs by myself.” The award-winning Ugandan businessman states “I decided to face the world alone.”
He began his enterprise, Youth Entrepreneurial Link Investments (YELI), as the first registered Ugandan company to make paper bags. This undertaking began with just $14 an equivalent Ksh 1,454. Though the business started out small, it has quickly grown with more than 72 clients according to Andrew. According to his interview with CNN, the young entrepreneur found that the organization provided little supply unable to meet the insatiable demand for his product.Mupuya hopes to expand to acquire a recycling processing plant.
According to Forbes list Africa’s Top 30 Under 30, Andrew’s business ” employs 24 people and makes a turning over $170,000″ in 2016. There are a few lessons to learn from the Paper Bag King’s social initiative for-profit hybrid business model for anyone hoping to make a coin from their passion about the environment. Here are a few things to learn from the 2012 Anzisha prize winner about making social initiatives profitable business.
1.Environmental causes could be big business
Although traditional business ideas like the buying and selling of goods can be profitable, exploring environmentally sound products could be the beginning of a business empire. Like Andrew, taking advantage of the proposed bill on plastic bags, catapulted his business to success. Doing a little research could help you come up with a business idea.
2. Be aware of the environmental issues around you
In business, seek out the environmental matters around you. In Nairobi, waste management as well as water treatment are key factors affecting the city’s inhabitants. Many are looking for products that provide solutions to their problems. Borrow a leaf from Andrew and step in to offer solutions. When it comes to environmental initiatives, it also important to consider that your costs are low and your initiative does not cause more harm to the environment that you are working to save.
3. Be willing to learn on the job
Some business principles may apply when setting up a for-profit social initiative. In the case of Andrew’s organization YELI, he soon learned he had to set up an outlet to increase and ease distribution of his product. Andrew also appreciated that perfecting the product is key to retaining and gaining new markets. According to a post published on the Anzisha Prize website, “YELI’s customer base includes local hospitals, retail shops, roadside sellers, supermarkets, and major local flour manufacturer companies like Maganjo grain millers and Akamai Foods.” Mupuya’s business is also giving customers a wider range of products to choose from by diversifying into the production of gift bags.