Supporting small and medium business enterprises to adapt green production practices
Promoting inclusive green economies through sustainable consumption and production patterns
Textile and Fashion Design (TexFad)
Entebbe road, Kampala - For Muturi Kimani, the banana plant is an all-around product, its fruit can be eaten, while its fibre can be used to make various products including art and craft materials and in the next few years textile.
“We have been testing it here and we hope to make it soft enough to make rugs and even clothes,” Kimani says during a tour of his Textile and Fashion Design (TexFad) School located on Entebbe road, Uganda.
TexFad is one of the several Micro Small and Medium Enterprises and start-ups benefitting from the Switch Africa Green (SAG) Programme — a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) initiative that aims to promote sustainable development by supporting efforts towards inclusive green economies based on sustainable consumption and production patterns, while generating growth, creating decent jobs and reducing poverty. The initiative which is funded by the European Union focuses on promoting private sector led inclusive green growth.
Working through various small scale and medium size private sector associations, the SAG programme provides grants to Micro Small and Medium Enterprises to green their business through ensuring resource efficiency as well as reduction of pollution as they make their products.
TexFad, joined the programme through the Uganda Small Scale Industries Association, where it’s a member. Through the SAG programme, it has been able to move to bigger premises where they are able to organise their production space better.
“Our initial space was really small and not well organised,” Kimani explains adding that, “through the SAG programme, we were trained on how to organise our equipment better for production.”
Kimani further says that the byproducts from their raw materials was also not being well disposed leading to littering and pollution in their compound.
“Now we are using some of our byproducts like those from banana fibre to make charcoal briquettes, which has a ready market in the city,” Kimani says. Texfad which also doubles as a training school in vocational skills is now providing ‘soft skills’ for those who want to learn something they can earn from immediately. It is also an incubation centre for Kyambogo University and has trained 22 students so far, enabling them get hands on skills in their fields of study.
“We are now also training community members in soap and candle making among other things, and these have become quite popular since we allow our students to use our production spaces when they are free,” he said.
He adds that they have also set up a mobile school which enables them to carry out community based trainings. Using a van, trainers from TexFad set up in community town centres and markets where interested people can be trained in these soft skills people.
“With the support we have received, we hope to have zero waste in the next couple of years because we shall be using all the waste to make other products or selling it to other businesses which need it,” Kimani says, adding that all the lessons learnt through SAG have not only led to improved waste management but also improved energy and water efficiency hence lowering their bills for them.
In addition, they have also registered a notable improvement in market access through networking with other beneficiaries, improved record keeping, product costing and better store keeping.
Kawempe, Kampala - On the other end of the city, Masupa enterprises, another small enterprise making briquettes is no longer struggling to get their products to the market after receiving support from the SAG programme.
Started in 2012, the company initially focused on maize growing until they realised a strong need for environmentally friendly fuel for domestic use.
“We started making briquettes using waste from our maize crop and some from our neighbours who had nowhere to take it,” Margaret Kyamulabi one of the proprietors shares.
She added that between 2012 and 2013, they were introduced to Afri-Banana and became one of their incubatees and enabling them to improve our production process which they were struggling with.
In 2014, the enterprise was one of those selected to join the SAG Programme to enable them improve their resource efficiency and green their production process.
A home based industry, Masupa was using their machines inefficiently and were not keeping their production spaces clean.
“When we joined the programme, we taken through the steps leading to cleaner production, now we are using one machine which is very efficient, we have improved the cleanliness of our manufacturing spaces and we have a sheltered drying space for our briquettes so that the weather does not affect us anymore,” Margaret says, adding that this has led to a better quality product for them.
They were also able to acquire an electrical briquette machine enabling them to increase their production to 2000kgs of briquettes per month, up from 30kgs with their revenue raising to Uganda shillings (UGX) two million per month from the 30,000 UGX they were making at the beginning.
Masupa sells its briquettes to restaurants, hotels as well as poultry farmers breeding chicks that require to be kept warm most of the day. Their neighbours have also become some of their biggest supporters.
Apart from making briquette, Masupa also provides training for those interested in learning how to make briquette. So far, they have trained 600 people some of whom have become a part of their supply chain, providing them with extra briquette when there’s increased demand for their products.
The enterprise makes different types of briquettes — stick briquettes which are popular for domestic consumption and the honey comb briquette made in small, medium and large sizes which are popular with hotels and restaurants because they burn for longer hours.
“Recently we got a high end customer who is packaging our briquettes and selling them in supermarkets, we hope to be able to do this on own in the near future, for now, we have opened a small outlet in Wandegeya market to enable us reach more customer,” Margaret shares.
They are also already looking at increasing the products they maker, already they have partnered with a fabricator to make Masupa stoves which conserve heat and reduce the amount of briquette used. They have also partnered with another of their trainers to make briquette lighters which have proved to be very popular with
all their clients.
Green production through the SAG programme has enabled their small cottage enterprise to ensure that all their waste is turned into another product.
East African Packaging Solutions company
Jinja, Eastern Uganda - In Jinja, the East African Packaging Solutions company which manufactures corrugated boxes for packaging was more popular for its dark coloured water effluent than for its products.
For a long time, the company’s management wondered how it could stop this effluent which the community around them thought was a dangerous pollutant due to its black colour.
Working with Uganda Cleaner Production, one of the SAG programme partners, the company was able to find a solution to this problem through setting up a modern effluent water treatment system which treats and restores the water to its original colour.
“We now collect this water at one point, treat it and use it to clean our production space and equipment,” Mr. Madhu Kabra shares during a visit to the factory adding there are no more complaints from the surrounding community, they only ask what happened to the water.
In addition to reducing water waste in and out of the factory, their biggest win since the partnership with the SAG Programme is that they have been able to use the waste from the corrugated paper boxes to make egg trays, one of their best selling products today.
“When Uganda Cleaner Production through the SAG programme introduced this idea, it was not well received initially, finance for example was not keen on providing the funds needed to set up a new line for egg tray production, now it’s the happiest department because this line is bringing in more revenue,” Kabra says, adding that the company invested USD 7000 to set up the egg tray line and they have been able to recoup that capital in four years since it was set up.
Their egg trays are made purely from waste paper and have created 27 new green jobs for members of the community.
Mr. Kabra says that these new changes have encouraged them to think green and they are researching on how their treated water can actually be channeled back into the production line to enable them reduce their water bills by more than half. They have also cemented their factory’s compound floor, a dusty affair before — which is now used for packaging finished products onto their trucks.
In addition, they also using LED lights to save power and plan to install solar to light the entire place so that electricity can only be used for their production lines. The company has also partnered with another company which grows fruits and vegetables for export to research the use of soda ash, a by-product of their products for use as fertiliser.
“Green production and zero waste is indeed the way to go for maximum profitability,” Mr. Kabra states.
Text & Photos by: Doreen Kansiime, Communications Unit - UNDP Uganda.