IN 2010, a 27-year-old graduate conceived an idea to start a toilet paper-making business in Harare.
Little did Mr Faraimose Kutadzaushe, now 33, know that less than 10 years down the line, his business and brand would be one of the most sought after products occupying more than 80 percent shelf space across retailers countrywide.
A chartered accountant by profession, Mr Kutadzaushe partnered with some friends to form Supreme Brands, a company that manufactures toilet paper products that has now widened to include diapers.
Then, the aim was to make a difference by creating employment to scores of youths countrywide. Unbeknown to him his business is making a lasting contribution to the country’s Buy Zimbabwe campaign, where the Government is encouraging citizens to procure and consume locally manufactured products.
Supreme Brands makes toilet paper (Soft Touch/Coral Soft) and diapers (Happy Nappy) which are common brands in major retail shops across the country.
The firm will soon be introducing sanitary pads, Mr Kutadzaushe told Business Chronicle recently in Victoria Falls.
With a staff complement of over 100, he said his company now produces more than 250 tonnes of toilet paper and more than 500 000 packets of diapers per month.
“We are producing approximately 250 tonnes of tissue paper per month while the diapers business is still new since we started four months ago and we are making more than 500 000 packets per month,” said Mr Kutadzaushe.
The company’s manufacturing plant is in Harare while Bulawayo was being used as a distribution centre.
The Stanford University School of Business graduate said they have acquired a new manufacturing plant from Israel at a cost of about $200 000 as Supreme Brands plans to set up a factory in Bulawayo.
With a monthly production target of 80 tonnes of toilet paper, Supreme Brands is expected to make a significant contribution to Bulawayo’s industrial revival efforts.
In recent years, the city, once Zimbabwe’s industrial hub, has suffered massive de-industrialisation due to the prevailing economic challenges the country was reeling under.
“We have just bought a machine from Israel and we are moving it to Bulawayo. Bulawayo has grown and we now want the business to grow in the whole of Matabeleland hence our Belmont depot will no longer be a mere warehouse and distribution centre but a manufacturing site. For a start, we target to produce 80 tonnes per month at the Bulawayo factory,” he said.
Mr Kutadzaushe said it was not all rosy to get their products into the market.
“We established in 2010 in Harare and in 2013 we set up a branch warehouse in Belmont, Bulawayo for distribution. No established retailer would look at us and we used guerilla marketing where we went to every small shop especially tuck shops and delivered our products.
“Now we are supplying almost every retailer and I can mention Mohamed Mussa and N Richards, African Century and Untu who have gone over and above our normal business relationships to make sure that our business thrives and reaches its potential among the few that have supported us.
“We are almost in every town in the country and also supply to Livingstone in Zambia. We also do Shoppers’ Choice brand for OK Zimbabwe and we are working on introducing sanitary pads. In business all you need to do is to find your niche and concentrate on it. You have to get over the discomfort of failure, if you fail-no hard feelings, that’s self-education,” Mr Kutadzaushe said while making a presentation at the recently held Chartered Accountants’ Winter School in Victoria Falls.
The youthful businessman who is based in South Africa where he is practising as a chartered accountant, was presenting a topic on “Entrepreneurship-developing a culture of innovation in an organisation.”
He said his niche was making a “unique product to distribute where our competitors are not able to distribute.”
“We have employed vendors so they can sell our products in every town and it’s working for us. “We want to create employment and our motto is that there shouldn’t be a shortage of local products anywhere.”
Mr Kutadzaushe said Supreme Brands’ contribution to the Buy Zimbabwe campaign was to make sure local products are readily available on the market.
Last year, he was voted overall top chartered accountant in South Africa under the age of 35 largely in recognition of his work done in Zimbabwe.
In October this year, he will be representing South Africa at a business conference in Columbia.
The young entrepreneur has worked for a number of renowned companies such as Goldman Sachs in the United States and Deloitte Touché.
Mr Kutadzaushe said he does not just believe in ideas but implements them, and challenged retailers and financiers to support local entrepreneurs as a way of giving back to the community.
He appealed to Zimbabweans to desist from rushing for every foreign product saying people need to produce locally and support local products.
Asked whether his business would survive competition from big giants in the market, Mr Kutadzaushe said: “Competition is healthy and it helps us improve our products.”
The young entrepreneur is open for win-win business partnerships.