From importation to producing goods locally, an entrepreneur’s story
Godfrey Mosha is the founder of Principal Company, a Tanzanian-based business that imports and sells baking ingredients to bakeries, supermarkets and restaurants in many parts of Tanzania. Having been in operation since 1995, the company is aware of the potential market in Tanzania and East Africa to locally manufacture the baking products that they currently have to import.
Mosha is one of this year’s finalists for the BiD Network Fast5 Challenge, which aims to identify and showcase the leading fast growing established companies in emerging markets and support their financing on the international stage. How we made it in Africa asks Mosha about his business decisions.
Briefly tell us a bit about Principal Company.
This business started when I was approached by my friend who got an order from flour millers in Dar es Salaam to supply them with flour improver due to my long business experience with South Africa.
I took the order and imported the product which I supplied and got a very good profit margin, this motivated me and later I realised that the market potential for the product was big.
The good profit I got prompted me to ask the suppliers to give me an agency to represent them in Tanzania, which I was granted.
Before this I was dealing with the sale of motor vehicle spare parts, importation of beer from Kenya and I diversified to bakery ingredients after realising that there was a business potential, which I [have been] doing up to now.
This business was started by importing one product and it kept on increasing as many bakeries, hotels and supermarkets started opening up in the market, creating demand for more different kinds of bakery ingredients. The business expanded and as of now we stock more than 100 different types of bakery ingredients.
We have expanded to a level where we have started manufacturing a few of the bakery ingredients. The main reason for this is to maximise profit by cutting the importation costs and making use of locally available raw materials to make bakery ingredients to maintain constant supply of the products in the market to meet customers’ orders on time. My future plan is to ensure that we produce 80% of the bakery ingredients that we currently import.
What competition do you have and what is your competitive advantage?
We face competition in some similar products supplied by our competitors in the market, especially in Dar es Salaam where there are companies which produce some of the products we sell.
The competitive advantage we have is the ability to have a one-stop shop whereby our customers can get most of their needs under one roof rather than going round shop to shop and getting only a few of their needs because other companies offer a small product range.
We also provide free of charge baking training and live demonstration for better use of our bakery ingredients to our customers. This is a service which our competitors do not offer and this unique service has motivated so many customers in the market to use our products and services.
Looking back, what have been some of your failures, and what have you learnt from them?
I have been experiencing shortage of stocks to meet customers’ orders on time. We import our products by road freight and one order takes two months to be processed and delivered. This means our company can run out of stock of some products, hence failure to maintain constant supply of products to meet customers’ demands.
I have learnt that if we produce bakery ingredients locally, our customers will get the products constantly and it helps make our business grow faster.
In your opinion, what is the best way to achieve long term success?
In my opinion the best way to achieve long term success is to set short and long term goals and they must be specific and measurable.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur in Africa?
In my opinion I would say that the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur in Africa are communication, record keeping and marketing skills. An entrepreneur must know how to communicate in order to sell his business to customers and network with other relevant business stakeholders.
Record keeping skills is also very important in business; if you do not keep your financial activities records you can make a loss without noticing, which can lead to business closure.
An entrepreneur needs to have marketing skills in order to be able to sell his/her products and services well to the customers. A customer can buy a product more easily if it is well known by the users through marketing.