Strolling away from formal employment was one of many hardest issues that Charles Okadia has achieved, however trying again, he says that the chance he took 10 years in the past was price it, as a result of it has introduced him with countless alternatives.
Earlier than launching his paint and adhesives manufacturing enterprise, Chemsols Restricted, Okadia had labored for greater than 20 years in varied company organisations, together with Crown Paints and American Ink, each manufacturing firms.
It’s throughout this time that he developed a burning want to launch his personal enterprise, through which he envisioned himself not simply making a good revenue, but additionally creating jobs and enriching livelihoods.
His dream got here true in 2009 when he arrange a producing firm in Nairobi’s industrial space, beginning with making paints for carton and paper bag manufacturing firms.
However he had not envisioned how difficult organising and operating a enterprise could be, and inside a short while, realised that issues wouldn’t be as straightforward as when he was in employment.
“While you depart company life to run a enterprise akin to mine, which most individuals discuss with as Jua Kali as a result of they do not see us as critical enterprise folks, you expertise what is named baptism by fireplace,” he feedback, and provides:
“Entrepreneurship isn’t as straightforward as working for a company which already has constructions in place.”
One of many challenges he skilled was a scarcity of employees to hold out varied features within the enterprise, a problem caused by lack of sufficient financing, an issue that hinders the progress of many small and medium enterprises.
“If you find yourself a start-up, there are only a few banks that will provide you with an overdraft, and if you’re within the manufacturing house, no provider could be prepared to present you uncooked supplies on credit score,” explains Okadia.
Organising store in an trade the place he needed to compete with established gamers who might afford to present credit score, he ended up lacking out on new clients as a result of the association of ‘purchase money and promote on credit score’ was one he couldn’t afford.
With no cash and only one worker, Okadia needed to deal with the roles of accountant, salesperson, manufacturing line supervisor and several other different duties all by himself.
“Once I was beginning Chemsols, I had just one employee, it might clock 10am but there could be no tea for me, which I had been used to after I was employed, that’s if you realise you might be by yourself,” he quips.
To reduce the workload, he was compelled to make use of folks with no expertise, a few of whom had a secondary faculty schooling, and prepare them on the job. With time nonetheless, he managed to surmount the challenges and develop his enterprise.
Quick ahead to 2021, Chemsols Restricted now employs 30 folks and generates annual turnovers of practically Sh100 million. The corporate specialises in home paints, automotive paints, water-based and solvent-based adhesives and has since expanded to Uganda.
“Over this era, we have now managed to interact accountants with CPAs, certified gross sales personnel and chemical engineers – it has taken time, we have now needed to climb the ladder slowly however we lastly received there,” he says.
Okadia says he’s pleased with reaching what he got down to do, which was to create jobs, and attributes his success to entering into enterprise with that goal in thoughts.
Drawing from his experiences operating a enterprise, he says that there’s nonetheless far more the federal government can do to make the enterprise surroundings extra conducive for SMEs, thereby enabling them to supply significant employment to the labour market and soak up the unemployed.
“The federal government hasn’t achieved a lot by way of financing for SMEs, not too long ago, it was introduced that they might be giving some loans to SMEs, however there may be nonetheless a limitation in that they haven’t taken under consideration all teams,” he factors out, including that particularly now when Covid-19 has affected many companies, it turns into much more vital for the federal government to ascertain mortgage amenities that would assist guarantee enterprise continuity for SMEs.
“When Covid-19 hit, a lot of the suppliers couldn’t import uncooked supplies, presently, most containers are making their option to the US and Europe, however there are not any containers coming to Africa, this scarcity (of products) implies that costs have gone up as effectively.”
With clients unwilling to fork out extra for merchandise, producers are being compelled to bear the added prices.
“A rise in the price of uncooked supplies is affecting the entire manufacturing trade, as an example, color pigments akin to iron oxide, which used to price Sh40,000 per ton in April final 12 months now prices Sh66,000,” he says, whereas the price of different supplies like titanium dioxide, a pigment, has elevated from Sh300 to Sh450 per kilogramme.
“Usually solvent costs have gone up by 15-20 per cent, an impact of the Covid-19 pandemic,” he says, stressing that if the federal government doesn’t come to the rescue of companies like his, many is not going to survive.