Getting a job is usually high on the list of expectations after graduation.
For Patricia Majule, the plan, when she graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting from the University of Dar es Salaam in 2016, was establishing a factory. She had been enterprising since she was 19 and therefore a white-collar job was not on the cards.
Her plan was to take her party supplies and gift items business to the next level now that she possessed professional skills to run her business. Unique Favours, a company founded by Patricia and for which she serves as the director, designs and manufactures customised party supplies such as invitation cards, garlands, printed ribbons, sashes, wedding props, box packages, favors and gifts for different occasions.
All these are made using locally available materials, except for paper and unprinted ribbons, which are imported. The enterprising young lady who used to work from her bedroom when she started is now a proud employer of ten people.
I met Patricia in her Tabata Liwiti office for interview and the moment I entered, I could not help but notice some of her neatly arranged products.
On a glass frame on the left-hand side, different personalized gifts, souvenirs, party accessories for weddings, send offs, kitchen parties, anniversaries were neatly arranged. On the right-hand side were personalised phot mugs, post cards and stationery.
Unique Favors, which has made a name for itself in Tanzania and beyond borders was officially registered in 2017, majoring in the manufacturing and supply of party supplies and gift items.
Her exemplary work saw Patricia make it to Forbes list of 30 most promising young entrepreneurs in Africa, last year.Patricia says this was among the big blessings in 2018 as it branded her and took her business a notch higher.
“It also came with a lot of coverage and getting more clients from countries like Kenya, South Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo and many others. This gave me the confidence that I was in the right industry,” Patricia says.
Her journey in the business started six years ago after Patricia completed high school, at St Mary Goret Secondary School in Moshi, Kilimanjaro Region. She at that time used sand and eggshells to make gifts for various occasions.
“I started my business with a capital of Sh70,000. Currently, my business is worth Sh60 million including company assets. I started using sand but later switched to eggshells, which were lighter than sand.”
She would get eggshells from chips kiosks and dry them before grinding them into powder, with which she made home décor and gifts.
She initially paid someone to collect eggshells from bars and hotels for her but he disappeared with her money. Patricia had to collect eggshells herself as people wondered what she did with the eggshells. When they learnt what she did with the shells, they agreed to be keeping them for her.
Because business was good, Patricia decided to continue with the business even after she joined university in 2014. It was not easy in the beginning. The challenge was balancing studies and business but through patience, consistency and resilience, she managed to successfully serve the two masters. She still recalls most of the sleepless nights she endured in order to complete orders from customers.
“It was even more difficult during examinations because there was no way I could give excuses to clients for not completing their orders just because I had exams.” This was a personal matter that needed not interfere with delivering on time. To maintain clients’ trust, Patricia had to separate business from studies by sacrificing sleep on some nights.
After graduation the idea of starting a factory that would be manufacturing unique products from paper such as box packaging, party and corporate supplies, invitation cards and other personalised items came to mind.
“I am currently supplying more products to wholesalers, retailers and corporate clients. I believe that Africa has many opportunities, including the industrial sector, whose potential is yet to be tapped. I call upon fellow youths to venture into the sector,’’ she says.
Patricia invested in the business because she wanted to play part in the country’s industrialisation process. She sees no reason for importing some products, which can be locally manufactured. She locally designs and manufactures party supplies in support of the fifth government’s industrialisation drive.
The most challenging part of her business is when she receives an order, which needs to be delivered within a short time. This involves sleepless nights just to ensure she delivers on time to keep customers’ trust.
Another challenge is getting the right machines to do the job.