My name is Victor Kansiime from Buringo Maheruka Town council, Sheema District, Western Uganda. I am the second born in the family of seven children. I attended my primary school at Buringo Primary School, and I went to Bugarama High school for both my O and A Level studies. I acquired a Certificate and a Diploma in Science Laboratory majoring in Chemistry at Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) in 2008 and 2010 respectively. In 2015, I acquired a Bachelor of Science and Technology in Chemistry from Kyambogo University. Currently, I am pursuing a Masters of Pharmacognosy and Natural Medicine science at MUST where I am also an incubate at the PHARMBIOTRAC – Natural Products Business Incubator (PNPBI), supported by the RUFORUM Entrepreneurship Challenge Program (RECAP). Previously, I worked as a School Laboratory Technician in Namagabi Senior Secondary School (SSS) and Kololo SSS before venturing into herbal medicine research and manufacture.
My mother inspired me at young age when she treated our neighbor’s child who was suffering from pneumonia using herbal medicine. She also treated me with herbal medicine when I was experiencing a debilitating chronic back pain that failed to heal despite visiting hospitals and specialists for long time.
Our business idea was motivated by testimonies from people who were facing pain especially back pain including myself. The enterprise specializes in manufacture of herbal medicine and health drinks. We manufacture a natural painkiller known as Victor Pain-Free, which is used in pain management and control and Samora soft drink, which works as an immune booster. We aim at producing low cost and high standard products that are affordable and environment friendly using modern technologies
Most people have good ideas but putting these ideas into practice has always been a great challenge. Our first achievement was turning our ideas into tangible products and putting the products on market. We were also able to gain the trust of our customers and therefore, we are able to maintain the business despite economic challenges and the effects of COVID-19 pandemic. It takes a lot to develop a product but it requires a lot more effort to convince people to buy your product.
We are targeting all the age groups suffering from back pain and low body immunity. However, our main target are women and men above forty years of age because the elderly people are the most affected group with chronic back pain. We intend to reach to them through sensitization in churches and other public gatherings, radio adverts and the use of flyers.
At a personal level, running the enterprise has earned me respect and expanded my social network at different levels. With the earnings from the business, I have been able to pay school fees for my family members including at university level. At the community level, my enterprise has created an opportunity for members to participate in the collection of raw materials from different parts of Uganda. Further, our business has created job opportunities for five (5) people.
Our main challenge remains the lack adequate capital to expand our business. Inspite of this, we expect to open at least one outlet in Mbarara city; and, have two of our products legally registered with National Drug Authority & Uganda National Bureau of Standards. We are delighted that one of our products, Samora soft drink was recommended by UNBS for a Q-mark. We further expect that in the coming year, our product sales will increase and our marketing efforts will be enhanced through running radio and TV shows every month.
To improve the incubation program at the university level, the center should direct more funding to those innovations/businesses that already exist and are in operation with production premises. Focus should be on fewer businesses in order to provide sufficient start-up capital. I urge MUST to invest more in mindset change in order to create more innovators and entrepreneurs than job seekers.
I urge RUFORUM to increase the funding to universities to enable them to support innovative business ideas. RUFORUM should consider supporting pilot business ventures for acceleration into fully-fledged companies. These can be further supported by the Government of Uganda through provision of tax holidays to young innovations.
I appeal to the African Development Bank to increase the funding basket through partnerships with other financing institutions and philanthropies.
I encourage young people to start businesses, and remain focused since success does not come in one day. Entrepreneurship is a journey that comes with challenges and requires a lot of patience for the goals and dreams to be achieved. Young entrepreneurs should seek mentorship so that they can be encouraged to achieve their dream of financial freedom and never to give up.