Success is about taking risks, says Umwali a young entrepreneur
Monica Umwali is the co-founder and marketing director of Anganza Limited; a Rwandan eco-brand that specializes in quality up cycled accessories. By upgrading PVC billboards, they repurpose what would otherwise be trash and turn it into valuable accessories.
She shared with Women Today’s Sharon Kantengwa about the secret to the success of their business and what they intend to achieve.
How did you come up with the idea of Anganza?
Anganza is a Swahili word which means shed light and we are shedding light on managing waste in Kigali.
Maria Mayanja, my business partner is an environmental engineer and I have a bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurship and small business management from Makerere University. When we met, I was working as a marketer in a large format printing company and we decided to make cash out of trash and out of our little savings of less than one hundred thousand francs, we started this company. Her passion for the environment and my background in marketing and business management in large format printing brought this company into existence because our largest material is banner flex. Our company has been in existence for three years now.
What is your take on being self employed and being employed by others?
Being an entrepreneur is challenging but interesting. I wake up every morning with a vision to conquer something. The good part is that you are your own boss and plan your own day; you are self motivated and celebrate even the small milestones. However, business is like a baby because if you don’t take good care of it, it doesn’t grow. It requires full time responsibility as it all depends on you, which means that you have to be willing to learn a lot for you to compete favourably. Our clients have been our biggest motivating factor because they give us feedback on where we need improvement.
What are some of the attributes that have made your business a success?
The company is a separate entity which should survive on its own, but we have stayed in business for long because we chose to share our profits with the company. We have been able to get funds from different donors who believe in our story and from marketing campaigns. We have been exposed to markets outside Rwanda.
Who do you look up to?
I look up to my mother who has had a string of businesses from a salon to a boutique, forex bureau and her efforts to make her businesses a success is what has kept me motivated.
What are some of the hurdles that you faced in this entrepreneurship journey?
Starting with little capital was a challenge. Sometimes when you start with limited capital, by the time you break even, you have taken a long time and it’s also hard to reward yourself as a young investor because you have to reinvest your profits. There is not a variety of fabric in Rwanda and this is a challenge. There is also the issue of the local market not understanding what we do to be able to buy. We also don’t have a showroom of our own where we can display our items which hinder our ability to control the prices because you have to cover the rent price. It’s however part of the process because we decided to first create the market to reduce costs at the beginning.
Where do you see Angaza limited in 3 years?
I see ourselves opening up a showroom for our products but also for other young in up cycling who have creative pieces but don’t have space to exhibit them. We are mainly advocating for products that are up cycled and also want to have a workshop where we can train people on up cycling and sell our products to Europe and participate in environmental shows. We will be able to provide employment to many more youth to be able to make a living.
What advice do you have for the women?
I advise women to go for what they are passionate about. There is that fear factor but life is about taking risks if you are to succeed. Start with whatever you are passionate about and use the resources around you. Focus on your dreams and along the way people will support you. Also, believe in yourself and your dreams and be willing to learn because we live in a competitive world.