It is 11 o’clock in the morning and inspite of the downpour, I am at Clean King Company in Sinza to meet the company’s managing director, Lusajo Mwakipesile.
The moment you set foot in the fenced premises, you can easily tell what the company deals in.
Clothes hanging on the drying racks, washing activities in one of the rooms, workers ironing clothes that have just come from the drying machine and others busy packing neatly folded clothes in clear plastic garment bags ready for delivery to customers.
I was curious to know why the owner of this company chose this kind of business.
Lusajo says a life full of challenges when growing up forced him to embark on entrepreneurship while young. “We used to sell sugarcane, ice cream and groundnuts along the road to eke out a living after our father lost his job at the central bank.”
The Mzumbe University graduate started engaging in small businesses of his own while in high school and is now happy that he is his own boss and a proud owner of a cleaning company that employs over 15 people.
“I started engaging in small businesses when I was at Eagles High School in Bagamoyo. After my father was retrenched, he turned to small businesses and farming where we all participated as a family. I can say I got the entrepreneurship spirit from my father.”
Although life was hard and full of challenges, Lusajo is thankful that the hardships taught him to stand on his own feet. Today he does not struggle like many unemployed young people out there.
Before he ventured into laundry business, Lusajo used to make liquid soap to supply in supermarkets in the city. However, the business was not that rosy because of delayed payment. Customers would make him wait for two weeks or even a month, which he found inconveniencing. His business needed a good cash flow to grow. He needed money to buy materials.
“After pondering on these challenge, I decided to hunt for tenders to supply soap to customers who needed large consignments. Hotels, lodges, schools and private hospitals needed huge amounts of laundry soap and so I approached them.”
Things went according to plan and Lusajo started supplying soap to his new clients. He later started making soap from the customers’ premises, which made his work easier.
Slowly, his business grew as well as his customer base. This prompted Lusajo to expand his business by introducing laundry services and Clean King was born. He started by hand washing and later bought a washing machine. Today the company uses both the machine and hand washing.
Targeting college students
“My major customers were college students. I went to different colleges looking for customers and today I have got many of them. My customers include students from the University of Dar es Salaam, the Institute of Finance Management, Dar es Salaam University College of Education and the Institute of Social Work. We also offer our services to customers other than students. We have offices in all the municipals,” Lusajo shares.
Clean King workers pick laundry from these colleges and deliver them once they are done. Since the customer is king for this company, they make sure they offer the best services possible. So far they have not received any complaints from customers, which Lusajo says is a sign that his company offers quality service.
Lusajo targeted students first because he was sure they needed the service given their busy schedules. Demand goes up during the rains for at Clean King, students are sure of their clothes getting dried even in the absence of sunshine. Also, having their clothes washed by the company saves them time plus they are sure of getting clean and ironed clothes.
But how much does the company charge for laundry service? They charge Sh400 for a shirt, a pair of trousers, a vest, skirt, blouse and Sh300 for socks, handkerchief, Sh1,000 for a gown and Sh1,500 for a pair of jeans.
The company has introduced a new promotion package where 20 dresses are washed at Sh8,600.
Likle any other successful businesses, Lusajo’s faces challenges too. For the laundry soap business, at times his supplier delays delivery of packaging materials, which affects his business as he too fails to deliver to his clients on time. He is yet to get a supplier who can deliver large quantities of packaging materials. Capital is another challenge.
Lusajo’s business has registered a number of achievements, the major one, earning customers’ trust, which Lusajo says is key in business. “Today I receive calls from different institutions that want to do business with us. Talks are ongoing with some of the institutions. Another achievement is that we now have a 12kg washing machine which has simplified our work.”